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Dr. Wijarn Simachaya

Permanent Secretary of Natural Resources and Environment  

Since 2016, Dr. Wijarn Simachaya has served as Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the highest ranking government official in the agency. Along with this position, he sits on a numerous impact committees, including the Advisory Panel under the Bill Gates Foundation, Asian Institute of Technology. With Nan Sandbox, Mr. Simachaya provides knowledge of forestry regulation and conservation and offers general support to Mr. Lamsam. Acting as an advisor and liaison to the Thai government, he listens to concerns and conveys the issues at hand to the appropriate authorities. Since he is responsible for all the national forests in Thailand, this issue hits close to home. 

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Mr. Banthoon Lamsam

Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, KASIKORNBANK PCL

Since 1992, Mr. Banthoon Lamsam has held the role of Chief Executive Officer of KASIKORNBANK PCL (and since 2013, concurrently the Chairman of the Board) which, under his leadership, has remained one of the largest commercial banks in Thailand and the first to be carbon neutral. He received his Bachelors in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University and MBA from Harvard Business School. As a true change leader, he led the Bank’s survival during the 1997 Asian financial crisis when many other banks folded. His latest initiative is to promote forest conservation, particularly critical headwater forests. With Nan Sandbox, Mr. Lamsam is responsible for finding concrete solutions that bring sustainability to his homeland.  Mr. Lamsam has negotiated with the villagers on behalf of the government and the government on behalf of farmers—a role that required the development of trust from local farmers over years. Mr. Lamsam has also enlisted KASIKORNBANK PCL to provide operational support as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility program, which has been recognized by the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices and the FTSE4Good Emerging Index, among other acknowledgements.

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Mr. Samruay Phadphon

Born and raised in Nan province, Mr. Samruay Phadphon is on a mission to continue his father’s efforts to restore prosperity to the land. He studied agriculture at Agriculture College in Nan and General Administration at Uttaradit Teachers’ Training College, and earned a Master’s degree in Human Resource and Environmental Management from Chiang Mai University. After graduation, he worked at a shelter for Lao immigrants in Nan province. Seeing hunger and poverty among the immigrants, he started his research on rice varieties in hopes of providing a sustainable source of food for the world population. He takes part in leading the Nan province community in forest restoration and river preservation, and has created a network under the Hug Mueang Nan Foundation which plays an important role in community development across northern Thailand. Through training and site visits (both domestically and abroad) he has learned to combine scientific methods with local wisdom and apply it to the concept of plant genetics. His aim is to develop local plant varieties that provide a solution to monoculture farming and hazardous chemical use. With Nan Sandbox, Mr. Phadphon links the village leaders to other Thai leaders and serves as a bridge to foster trust and develop solutions.


Ms. Thikamporn Kongson

Ms. Thikamporn Kongson is a local farmer in Nan province. She received a vocational certificate, majoring in Accounting, from Nan Technical College. She holds leadership roles in many community groups in Ban Nong Ha village, and has been actively involved in village development. In particular, she led a group of 126 farmers’ families facing conflicts and held talks with the government that led to successful remediation for more than 632 farmers. She has assisted farmers in alleviating chronic debt and taught them new occupational alternatives. She was among the leaders in a project aimed at encouraging children and youth to adhere to the six principles of morality: cleanliness, perseverance, integrity, savings, devotion, and gratitude. With Nan Sandbox, she provides a different perspective and uses sincerity in tackling these issues.


Phra Khru (Monk) Phithak Nanthakhun    

Phra Khru (Monk) Phithak Nanthakhun is a development monk in Nan province. In 1980, when a community forest concept was introduced, Phra Khru Phithak initiated a forest reserve in villages and led campaigns to preserve the local fauna. He led the local villagers to organize tree ordination ceremonies similar to monk ordinations in Buddhism. This helped people respect the trees and refrain from cutting them down. He also worked with relevant parties in revamping rules and regulations governing community forest, before assigning village community forest reserves to each village. In 1990, he led foundation volunteers in applying religious and cultural activities to forest preservation, including taking surveys of Nan river. They also organized a ceremony to extend the destiny of the headwater forest, which has been used as a model for forest preservation in many provinces. This is now a tactic to mobilize cooperation among the local people in preserving water quality and avoiding pollution of the river.


Phra Khru (Monk) Suchin Nanthakit    

Phra Khru (Monk) Suchin Nanthakit sees trees as living textbooks, which can be used to raise public awareness in forest preservation. He came up with this idea when promoting Pong Kham temple as a learning center. He has played a dual role in this effort: one is to teach people to understand Dhamma and the results of good and bad deeds, and this other is to raise public awareness in preserving the environment and natural resources. Phra Khru Suchin Nanthakit truly understands that preservation and rehabilitation of natural resources and the environment cannot be accomplished by a single party. These will require cooperation of all concerned. He came up with an idea to teach children about preservation methods, in order to pass them onto their parents. He was later quoted as saying: “This project let us see the fact that, by nature of human beings or animals, love is very important, and it is quite difficult to deny a request of the ones they love most, especially their children. I will teach your kids first, and let them show to their parents”. The results are worth noting: in 1994, Phra Khru Suchin Nanthakit successfully persuaded farmers to stop monoculture in many thousands of acres, after the children were encouraged to tell their parents.