The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed Thailand’s multiple vulnerabilities, including imbalanced development stemming from prioritizing economic growth over societal and environmental objective; dependency on foreign tourism revenue, healthcare and technology; and the lack of support for a local economy leading to social disparity. As the country is setting a path to post-COVID recovery, a paradigm shift in developmental strategy is needed to warrant sustainable development and immunity to future changes and disruptions. The design of a new developmental paradigm is based on: 1) balancing between economic, social and environmental development to build change resilience; 2) placing priority on human security in four aspects: food, healthcare, energy and employment; 3) building strength from within by promoting the grassroots economy to enable fair wealth distribution and self reliance in accordance with the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy; 4) creating an innovation-based economy by nurturing locally-developed innovations; and 5) preparing for social and technological disruptions and creating new business opportunities from disruptive innovations.
Higher education, science, research and innovation (HESRI) are key enablers to transform Thailand into an innovation-based country with balanced development, freeing it from the middle-income trap to become a high-income nation, creating fair wealth distribution to fight off social disparity, embracing responsible production and consumption to conserve limited resources, and bringing happiness and well-being to the society. The HESRI strategy for post-COVID recovery consists of the following directions: 1) Turning Poverty to Prosperity, 2) Promoting Human Values, Social Changes and Sustainability, 3) Implementing Bio-Circular-Green Economy, 4) Transforming Industry and Building Foundation for the Future, 5) Reinventing Higher Education and Human Capital, and 6) Reforming Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation System.