FEATURE STORY February 26, 2019

In Thailand, a Hackathon Crowdsourced Innovative Solutions to Protect the Ozone

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Participants of the 24-hour policy hackathon aimed to solicit new ideas and approaches to develop a bottoms-up policy that will protect the ozone layer.


STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • As part of Thailand’s national efforts to achieve the sustainable phase-out of harmful ozone depleting gases, the World Bank partnered with the Department of Industrial Works, Chulalongkorn University and Government Savings Bank to launch a series of activities under the “Ozone, OurZone” campaign.
  • The campaign aimed to increase public awareness about the ozone and climate protection as well as increase stakeholder participation in the national and international efforts to protect the global environment.
  • One of the key activities of the campaign included a policy “hackathon” to solicit new ideas and approaches from stakeholders to develop a bottoms-up policy that will protect the ozone layer in Thailand.

Protecting the ozone layer also protects the climate. While the ozone layer is 10 kilometers high up in the sky, simple actions to protect it can be so close to people. These were the thoughts behind the “Ozone, OurZone” campaign, jointly launched by Thailand’s Department of Industrial Works, Chulalongkorn University, Government Savings Bank and the World Bank to enhance understanding and public awareness of the ozone and climate protection issues.

Serving as a natural shield, the ozone prevents harmful UV-B from reaching Earth. Too much of UV-B can cause skin cancer and eye cataracts, lowering the human immune system and can adversely impact the food chain.

Through a series of workshops, the campaign’s aim was to increase people’s awareness of their ability to protect the climate and the ozone layer. More than 300 participants from the public sector, academia, manufacturers and students from many provinces across Thailand joined.

“I understand the importance of the ozone and that protecting it is good for our health. However, I just realized there are many things I never knew,” said Pawak Worasun, a student from the Faculty of Economics, Khon Kaen University in Northeastern Thailand.

From refrigerators, air-conditioners, laptops, shaving creams, deodorants to the mattress people sleep on at night, it was the first-time participants learned how the appliances and equipment people use throughout the day are made with or can contain ozone-depleting substances.

Thailand has taken great strides to phase this out as a member of the Montreal Protocol, which controls the production and consumption of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). It was the first developing country to ban the manufacturing and import of CFC refrigerators in 1997. It was also the first developing country to convert air-conditioners from using HCFCs to new technology that was ozone-friendly in 2017. Thailand’s next step will be ratifying the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol which specifies targets and timetables for replacing hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) with more planet-friendly alternatives.

“I really enjoyed the presentations and group work to design modules for ozone protection. The ozone is relevant to us more than I thought. It connects to industries and our daily lives. As a farmer, what I can do is to adjust my behavior,” said Shinapas Poona Manmae, an organic farmer from Kanchanaburi province.


"The ozone is relevant to us more than I thought. It connects to industries and our daily lives. As a farmer, what I can do is to adjust my behavior"
Shinapas Poona Manmae
Organic Farmer, Kanchanaburi Province

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Participants from various sectors, age and background worked together to illustrate their understanding of how the ozone layer affects our world and our lives.


One of the key activities of the campaign included a 24-hour policy hackathon where 70 participants in 13 groups provided innovative solutions and inputs to a HFC phase-down strategy for Thailand, a move that can prevent up to 0.5 degrees Celsius of global warming by the end of this century, while continuing to protect the ozone layer.

“Though I am a student, I can share this knowledge to others to enhance their understanding. From this point, people can make changes because they fully understand. I think this is more efficient than only a top-down policy approach,” said Pawak.

Mentors from the National Economic Social Development Board (NESDB), Ministry of Energy, Federation of Thai Industries, manufacturers of foam and refrigerant sectors, and the World Bank Thailand environmental team participated to help participants shape ideas. The results included innovative solutions ranging from developing an air conditioner app, promoting car maintenance incentives to piloting solar energy housing for the poor.

“Going beyond conventional learning methods, this disruptive environmental education through the hackathon provided an innovative learning platform for listening to others, crystalizing new ideas, and employing new thinking tools to develop policy prototypes,” said Dr. Pisut Painmanakul, Associate Dean of Innovation Strategy at the Faculty of Engineering, Chulalongkorn University.

The World Bank is one of the implementing agencies of the Multilateral Fund for implementation of the Montreal Protocol and has been working closely with the Thai industry for the last two decades to transfer knowledge and technical advice to relevant government agencies on the sustainable phase-out of ozone depleting substances. More than $70 million has been made available to support CFC and HCFC phase-out programs in Thailand.

“The ozone layer and climate protection is not the work of a single agency, but it should be everyone’s responsibility,” said Dr. Viraj Vithoontien, World Bank Lead Environmental Specialist. “Our workshops and policy campaign aim to engage inclusively with all stakeholders from the policy preparation step. I strongly believe that Thailand will be able to repeat the successes that it had in phasing out CFC and HCFC in the past.”



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