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Seeking a greener island

PHUKET: If you could tap the energy that obviously resonates from Sean Panton, one of the founders of SEEK, Phuket’s own active environmental group, his electricity supply could make a small rural village self-sufficient in power.

Friday 27 January 2012, 10:00AM

Briton Sean Panton, one of the co-founders of SEEK.

Briton Sean Panton, one of the co-founders of SEEK.

A suspected broken ankle and a small operation on his nose have not slowed him down either.

Working with JW Marriott Phuket Resort and Spa some 10 years ago at the start of their project to release young endangered sea turtles back into the sea each year, Mr Panton realised that there was no agency co-ordinating the protection of the environment in Phuket.

With the backing of Klaus Hebben of Thanyapura, Mr Panton joined Nick Anthony, both British, to form SEEK three years ago. “So that my son can still surf in the future as I can now,” Mr Panton said.

Short for Society, Environment, Economy and Knowledge, SEEK describes itself as an “organisation set up to work with local community, local government, the private sector and residents of Phuket to communicate and lobby to keep Phuket a leading sustainable destination for the future.”

“The response has been unbelievable. Everyone wants to do something but don’t quite know how to do it,” Mr Panton said.

The group aims to promote sustainability on the island, coordinate and communicate on issues such as waste and water management, social and economic development and educational initiatives.

The group’s president, Dr Robert Mather, Asian head of the International Union for the Conservaton of Nature, and long-time environmental guardian of Phuket, Dr Chamniern Vorratanchaiphan, of the Thailand Environment
Institute, hosted a SEEK seminar last Friday and Saturday January 20-21 at the Thanyapura Mind Centre.

The group has now built a supporting coalition of 25 key community individuals from Governor Tri Augkaradacha outwards.

SEEK Phuket says it aims to work as a platform and service to create working links for all local forces to work together to benefit the environment.

tile-it - Phuket’s Quality Tile Boutique

Mr Anthony, a personal friend of Mr Panton for 12 years, does a lot of the groundwork for the group with his many contacts in the environmental movement in Phuket.

What does Phuket need most of all now?

A high-level sustainability plan is the answer, the green group says.

The group is following the Compass model developed by the Atkinson Group: north for nature, west for well-
being, east for economy and south for society, and, if all the directions can be in harmony, then sustainability would be achieved.

Last week’s workshop was designed to come up with 48 sustainability indicators, used all over the world by the Atkinson Group, that SEEK would now use to measure progress of environmental sustainability in Phuket.

There will be a two-day SEEK expo in August which will again measure progress in this promising environmental campaign.

This monitoring will happen every year.

Already interest is being shown in this initiative elsewhere in Thailand such as in Chiang Mai, said Mr Panton.

–Norachai Thavisin

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