Renowned Thai environmentalist, Niwat Roykaew, affectionately known as Kru Thi, has recently made his nation proud as the inaugural Thai winner of the prestigious Leader on the Frontlines Award. This recognition, hailed by the Asia Foundation, a prominent international development organization based in San Francisco, is a validation of his dedicated work in environmental preservation. At 64, Niwat continues to serve as the chairman of the Chiang Khong Conservation Group, and he is also the director at the esteemed Mekong School’s Institute of Local Knowledge.
Niwat’s praiseworthy strides have mainly centered around community mobilization initiatives geared towards safeguarding the lush ecosystem of the Mekong River along with the preservation of local livelihoods. His diligent work in community advocacy has successfully halted numerous detrimental damming and blasting projects that posed significant risks to the fragile river ecosystem and the communities that depend on it. Niwat’s unyielding endeavors in environmental preservation have been heavily lauded by the Asia Foundation.
The notable Leader on the Frontlines Award, also recognized as the 2023 Chang-Lin Tien Distinguished Leadership Award, was bestowed upon Niwat on the first day of April. This monumental moment marks Niwat’s position as the sixth recipient since the award’s program was established. As per a report by the Bangkok Post, Niwat’s response to this recognition reflected his humble nature. He joyfully stated that it was not just an honor for him personally, but a celebration for the entire civil society sector tirelessly striving to protect natural resources.
Niwat stated in his words of gratitude, “I am elated that our ceaseless efforts to protect the Mekong River have gained worldwide recognition. This reward is not solely for me, but it is a blissful moment for the civil society sector dedicating years to safeguarding natural resources.”
Niwat also effectively utilized this platform to call attention to the broader issues surrounding environmental protection. He voiced a plea for more individuals to actively participate in the protection of environmental resources, highlighting that such obligation is not limited to any specific nation but is a global responsibility.
The Chang-Lin Tien Distinguished Leadership Award was instituted in memory of the late Chang-Lin Tien, the previous chair of the Asia Foundation’s Board of Trustees and former chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley. The aim of this award is to celebrate those inspiring individuals who demonstrate exceptional commitment, much like Tien, in their respective fields.
Keep pace with The Thaiger for more of such uplifting stories on our updated Facebook page HERE.