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Social Innovation in Southeast Asia

Thailand's Vision for a Green Future
Why Growth and Sustainability Must Go Hand-in-Hand

    With a population of about
    and a labour force of

    Thailand has been recognised widely as Southeast Asia’s development success story throughout the years, despite having a per capita GDP of around $7,000.

    The country is the second-largest economy in Southeast Asia, trailing behind Indonesia, and is the 21st-largest economy globally.


    largest country producing agricultural output


    largest country for manufacturing


    largest exporter worldwide

    Ranked as the 12th largest country producing agricultural output, 18th for manufacturing and 25th largest exporter worldwide, Thailand’s GDP is expected to grow by 3.7% in 2023 – more than a 2% increase since 2021 despite the pandemic’s impact, according to the International Monetary Fund. Despite its success and growth, Thailand continues to face a variety of issues within the country, hindering its full growth potential for its economy.

    Thailand has faced rapid population growth as well as urbanisation throughout the years. While vast development and an increase in population stimulate economic growth, it has brought about a variety of challenges for the country such as an ageing population and increased reliance on private vehicle usage and industrial systems. Capital cities like Bangkok have become more crowded with human traffic, and roads get more congested – resulting in the popular city coming in at number 8 on TomTom’s global traffic ranking.

    It is expected that the number of Thais aged 60 and above will rise from


    in 2010
    by 2040
    Bringing about potential issues such as

    Incoming strain on healthcare systems, the workforce and economic growth for the country.

    The country’s increased dependence on modern industrial systems, such as air conditioning and fuel, have resulted in the rise of temperatures, leading to eventual environmental issues.

    As energy consumption increases, climate change issues have become more prevalent in Thailand as well. The country is highly vulnerable to the impact of climate change and is ranked the ninth country in the “extreme risk” category that is most vulnerable to future climate change impacts over the next 30 years. Despite the country’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions accounting for less than 1% of global emissions, air quality and pollution have become a severe concern.

    Top three emitters of CO2 contributing to
    of the country’s emission growth annually between 2011 and 2023

    Power Generation



    Among its larger issues, improper disposal of waste has been another cause of concern, especially for cities like Bangkok, where other factors have screamed the need for urgent climate action.

    Another set of challenges faced by Thailand is the adoption of Industry 4.0 and digitalisation. The country lacks significant investment in areas such as research and development, and the adoption of new technologies and infrastructure. This is attributed to both the lack of domestic and international collaboration as well as sources of funding to finance this transition. With the lack of investment, Thailand struggles to address existing skills gaps and re-educate its pool of employees to ensure they do not lack behind their foreign counterparts in terms of upcoming technological advancements.

    Inadequate regulations and policies are being established to encourage innovation, experimentation, and accommodation of new technologies as the country continues to also face an increase in cyber risks and data breaches. It is crucial for government bodies, industry players and academia to come together and adopt openness in sharing data and knowledge to drive collaboration, innovation, and growth to realise Thailand’s Industry 4.0 ambitions.


    From its early days, Hitachi has been committed to contributing to a sustainable and prosperous society – leading to its Social Innovation Business, where expertise and technology are combined to address global challenges, solving problems related to climate change, aging populations, and other pressing issues. Hitachi continues to leverage technology, with a particular focus on digital transformation and sustainability as an important aspect of bettering society.

    As part of its commitment to helping Thailand achieve its green and smart city ambitions, Hitachi recently provided the signalling and power supply system, and its rolling stock to the Bangkok Redline – a rail transportation system connecting Bangkok’s main station with its suburbs. The project allowed Hitachi to assist in tackling the issue of heavy traffic congestion in the city and provide a more efficient means of transportation for commuters.

    In addition to the Bangkok Redline, Hitachi has also launched Hitachi Energy, a new business division focused on renewable energy and energy storage solutions as part of Hitachi's efforts to address climate change. The unit provides a range of products and services, including wind turbines and energy storage systems as an initiative to reduce carbon emissions.

    Hitachi's commitment to sustainability and innovation is reflected in its long-term goals – as the upcoming global leader in environmental solutions, with a focus on reducing carbon emissions and promoting renewable energy. With an aim to be the trusted company by society, Hitachi continues to maintain its strong reputation for ethical behavior, and responsible business practices through its initiatives and projects.


    Aside from their current works, Hitachi is also investing in research and development, collaborating with other companies and organizations, and seeking to create innovative solutions to complex problems. The company is also committed to diversity and inclusion, recognizing that a diverse workforce is essential to driving innovation and achieving its goals.

    Hitachi's vision and goals reflect its commitment to innovation, sustainability, and social responsibility. With a focus on technology and digital transformation, Hitachi continues to address global challenges such as climate change through projects like the Bangkok Redline – in hopes of a more sustainable and prosperous future.

    Date of Release: May 2023