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Reaching sufficiency

Jun 29,2015 - Last updated at Jun 29,2015

I first heard of the term “economic sufficiency” from the current Thai ambassador in Amman. I was among some invitees to a lecture about a theory initiated and advanced by the king of Thailand.

The idea is basically simple: let everyone live within their own means and needs, without extravagance or waste.

Let each human being have a crop garden in his own yard, consume some and sell the rest.

Let us all exert a collective effort to repackage surplus food, surplus clothes, electronic gadgets which we stopped using and give them to those in need.

Should we all adhere to a consumption and production behavioural code that shows other human beings concern and compassion, we would have no more hunger, famine, diseases, and much less garbage and solid waste.

Sufficiency is thus achievable and it will help realise the millennium development goals passed in 2000 by the UN, and those that will be adopted this year or the next.

Intergovernmental relations have proved a failure when it comes to global responsibility and inclusive attitudes.

White-collar bureaucrats seldom act amicably or magnanimously when they sit to negotiate. 

They exercise “BOGSTAT” in its most drastic form. BOGSTAT is the acronym for a “bunch of guys sitting together around a table”, meaning they analyse problems but never reach a consensus on how to resolve them.

To bypass this negative attitude, civil societies should step in to bride the gap.

One sees examples deserving respect at both global and domestic levels.

I met an Algerian lady who majored in genetics but could not find a job. Instead of sitting idle, feeling sorry for herself, she started a biogas production unit using garbage she and her co-workers collect.

Her simple and efficient model has captured the attention of international players. Her example is emulated.

I was deeply moved by the initiative of five Jordanian youths whose story was covered by Al Hurra satellite station.

Five years ago they began collecting the extra food from five-star hotels during the month of Ramadan, repackaging it and distributing it in a presentable package to the needy.

The social media helped spread the word. More restaurants and hotels are offering their cafeteria’s unsold food and more volunteers are sharing in the effort of packaging and distributing.

I am sure both experiences cited above will be emulated in many parts of the world.

Both experiences show that with some courage and imagination we can serve the goal of sufficiency with dignity.

I salute the king of Thailand, and those young people serving the cause without knowing about the king’s theory.


The writer, a former Royal Court chief and deputy prime minister, is a member of Senate. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times.

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