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Buddhism supports Sustainable Development Goals SDG # 1 No Poverty

Updated: Apr 9, 2022

Buddhist Philosophy for Mind Management

Coach Sirisa SCH Saengchai, PCC


The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or Global Goals are a collection of 17 interlinked global goals designed to be a "blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all".1 The SDGs were set up in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly (UN-GA) and are intended to be achieved by the year 2030. They are included in an UN-GA Resolution called the 2030 Agenda or what is colloquially known as Agenda 2030.2 The SDGs were developed in the Post-2015 Development Agenda as the future global development framework to succeed the Millennium Development Goals which ended in 2015.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 17 SDGs are ;

(1) No Poverty

(2) Zero Hunger

(3) Good Health and Well-being

(4) Quality Education

(5) Gender Equality

6) Clean Water and Sanitation

(7) Affordable and Clean Energy

(8) Decent Work and Economic Growth

(9) Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

(10) Reducing Inequality

(11) Sustainable Cities and Communities

(12) Responsible Consumption and Production

(13) Climate Action

(14) Life Below Water

(15) Life On Land

(16) Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions

(17) Partnerships for the Goals.

Each goal typically has 8–12 targets, and each target has between 1 and 4 indicators used to measure progress toward reaching the targets. The targets are either "outcome" targets (circumstances to be attained) or "means of implementation" targets.3

Sustainable Development Goal 1: No poverty. For SDG 1 is to: "End poverty in all its forms everywhere". Achieving SDG 1 would end extreme poverty. Sustainable Development Goal 1 consists seven targets and 13 indicators to measure progress. And the Five "outcome targets" are:

1. Eradication of extreme poverty

2. Reduction of all poverty by half

3. Implementation of social protection systems

4. Ensuring equal rights to ownership, basic services, technology and economic resources

5. The building of resilience to environmental, economic and social disasters.

The two targets related to "means of achieving" SDG 1 are mobilization of resources to end poverty; and the establishment of poverty eradication policy frameworks at all levels 4,5

For Thailand, Poverty in term of SDGs is defined that the earning lesser than daily 5.5$ (Approximately 165Thai Baht). In 2012, There are an estimated 15.6 million poor people living in Thailand with 8.4 million of those considered extremely poor. 6 And the update Thai poverty ratio would be 8.8% in 2020 due to the impact of Covid 19.7

SDGs 1 - No poverty, Poverty Situation: Generally, Poverty happens and is an effect of many causes. Poverty is the state of not having enough material possessions or income for a

person's basic needs. Poverty can have diverse social, economic, and political causes and effects. When evaluating poverty in statistics or economics there are two main measures: Absolute poverty measures compare income against the amount needed to meet basic personal needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter. Relative poverty measures when a person cannot meet a minimum level of living standards, compared to others in the same time and place. Thus relative poverty is defined as varies from one country or from one society to another.

In Thailand, there is an official poverty record in 2021 at around 7-10% of the population.8 The cause of poverty in Thailand may be learned from history. Since the Sukhothai period and even earlier, there have been local population and migrants from other countries such as China, India, Persia, Europe. The people have been earning for living from their expertise and familiarity. In the majority, local people have lands and work in agriculture or works for the army or government. While most of the migrants arrived and provided the service to governors or worked in commerce and trading. However, people from both groups, local and immigrants,

have been merging and classified to 2 types of characteristics and mindsets; Routinary and

Proactivity. The mindset differences have been supporting each other without much conflict and

The mindset of proactivity has been driving the persons and families to positively move forward. On another hand, some of them may negatively gain any resources from others for their advancement. However, most people with a proactive mindsets have become the leaders and

upper class in society. These people with proactive mindset have included both local and immigrants who have developed themselves since the past and also the abolition of slavery and the industrialization in the 1960s.9 Noticeably, the immigrant people seem more proactive in the society than the local ones who peacefully live and routinely work in the large area on the land.

Significantly, the routinary mindset is the majority group in Thailand. Most of them earns living from agriculture, art, craft, production, bureaucracy, and employment. They have been continuously working on their jobs for good deeds.

The root cause of poverty in Thailand is from the combination of 2 different mindsets.

Since social welfare is not well organized and is inadequate to well support both groups of all people, everyone needs to survive on their own path. Many proactive ones or opportunists

do anything to gain other resources for their advancement. The routinary ones enjoy or accept

their lives as they are. Most people in the community are aware of their own personal interests rather than the public interest. The public services and education are not well organized to support everyone equally and for equality. The poor public service and education system enable the gap between poor and rich people to get larger. The education system involves learning in school and parents, as well as learning morals and mindset in the community. The majority of Thai people and the new generation are lack learning in Core skills, soft skills, and a good mindset due to the inefficient education system. The individuals who wish to get away from poverty and everyone who live together in the community, need to develop their own positive mindset and activities which are tough by the Buddha.

For Thailand to reach SDGs#1 - No poverty in Thailand, Buddhism can play a significant role to support people's productivity and earning incrementation.

Good moral, and principal mindset is the most important for human living regardless of school education, age, and role. Buddhism is, therefore, the most significant role to educate people to have a good moral and right mindset which enables people to fundamentally live their life on track and to perform their appropriate role such as the role of parent, the role of children, role of teacher, role of governor, etc. When people respect themselves and insist on appropriately performing their roles, they will gain personal effort for their responsibilities. That would be the challenge and enable “self-motivation”. Good Buddhists would learn the life fundamental, the truth of nature, the path or direction to reach the destination and also, would know their destination. Once people know their ultimate destination or goal, they look for direction, they are not lost. Buddhism enables a good path for people moving forwards with peace of mind, Education at school or skill learning is like the selected vehicle to bring the person go along the road to their destination.

For SDGs #1, to reduce poverty, Buddhism would enable people's self-respect and self-esteem to develop their good leadership skills as well as to emphasize their effort and wisdom to appropriately perform their roles and to reach their expectation as “Big goal” with Sila, good moral and mindset. Buddhism will enable governors and educators to appropriately perform their roles to manage and work for the growth of people and villagers, and also enable parents to perform their role to make the most effort to nicely grow their children, and also enable young people to perform their role to diligently learn to leverage their knowledge and skills for their own living and any upcoming roles.

The Buddha Teaching that supports the elimination of poverty would be the five precepts Noble Eightfold Path, Iddhipāda

The Five Precepts are the Buddhist code of conduct or rules to help people behave in a moral and ethical way.10 Buddhists should follow the Five Precepts to ensure they are living a morally good life. This helps them to get rid of suffering and achieve enlightenment. The Five precepts are;

1. Refrain from taking life

2. Refrain from taking what is not given

3. Refrain from the misuse of the senses

4. Refrain from wrong speech

5. Refrain from intoxicants that cloud the mind

The eight Buddhist practices in the Noble Eightfold Path are:

1. Right Resolve or Intention: the giving up of home and adopting the life of a religious mendicant in order to follow the path; this concept aims at peaceful renunciation, into an environment of non-sensuality, non-ill-will (to loving kindness), away from cruelty (to compassion). Such an environment aids contemplation of impermanence, suffering, and non-Self.11

2. Right Speech: no lying, no rude speech, no telling one person what another says about him to cause discord or harm their relationship. 12

3. Right Conduct or Action: no killing or injuring, no taking what is not given, no sexual misconduct, no material desires.

4. Right Livelihood: no trading in weapons, living beings, meat, liquor, and poisons.

5. Right Effort: preventing the arising of unwholesome states, and generating wholesome states, the bojjhagā (Seven Factors of Awakening). This includes indriya-samvara, "guarding the sense-doors", restraint of the sense faculties.13

6. Right Mindfulness (sati): "retention", being mindful of the dhammas ("teachings", "elements") that are beneficial to the Buddhist path.In the vipassana movement, sati is interpreted as "bare attention": never be absent-minded, being conscious of what one is doing; this encourages the awareness of the impermanence of the body, feeling and mind, as well as to experience the five aggregates (skandhas), the five hindrances, the four True Realities and seven factors of awakening.

7. Right samadhi: practicing four stages of dhyāna ("meditation"), which includes samadhi proper in the second stage, and reinforces the development of the bojjhagā, culminating into upekkha (equanimity) and mindfulness.14 In the Theravada tradition and the vipassana

movement, this is interpreted as ekaggata, concentration or one-pointedness of the mind, and supplemented with vipassana meditation, which aims at insight.

8. Right View: our actions have consequences, death is not the end, and our actions and beliefs

have consequences after death. The Buddha followed and taught a successful path out of this world and the other world (heaven and underworld/hell). Later on, the right view came to

explicitly include karma and rebirth, and the importance of the Four Noble Truths, when "insight" became central to Buddhist soteriology.

Iddhipāda is a compound term composed of "power" or "potency" and "base," "basis" or "constituent".15 In Buddhism, the "power" referred to by this compound term is a group of spiritual powers. Thus, this compound term is usually translated along the lines of "base of power" or "base of spiritual power." 16 In the Buddhist pursuit of bodhi (awakening, understanding) and liberation, the associated spiritual powers are secondary to the four "base" mental qualities that achieve such powers. These four base mental qualities are: concentration on intention; concentration on effort; concentration on consciousness; and, concentration on investigation. These four base mental qualities are used to develop wholesome mental states and rid oneself of unwholesome mental states.16

The four bases of such power are concentration (samādhi) due to:

1. Intention or purpose or desire or zeal (chanda)

2. Effort or energy or will (viriya)

3. Consciousness or mind or thoughts (citta)

4. Investigation or discrimination (vīmaṃsā)17

Buddhism supports Sustainable Development Goals SDG # 1 No Poverty. The Buddhists who learn the Buddha's teaching and practice their living complying with Buddhism, will have self-awareness, understand the truth of life, and have the willingness to live with others in harmony. Thus, they will stand with more self-respected, more confident to work and for living complying with Buddha teaching; the five precepts Noble Eightfold Path, Iddhipāda.


Ritchie, Roser, Mispy, Ortiz-Ospina (2018) "Measuring progress towards the Sustainable

Development Goals." (SDG 1), website"Decline of Global Extreme Poverty Continues but Has Slowed". World Bank. Retrieved 26 August 2020.

Firzli, Nicolas (3 April 2018). "Greening, Governance and Growth in the Age of Popular

Empowerment". FT Pensions Experts. Financial Times. Retrieved 27 April 2018.

Jeffrey D. Sachs , 15 Jul 2015 “The Age of Sustainable Development”, ISBN10 0231173156

Kevin Feige, Sustainable Development Strategies : Engineering, Culture and Economics,

Publication date 21 Aug 2020, Publisher Elsevier - Health Sciences Division,

ISBN10 0128189207, ISBN13 9780128189207

Steve Hagen, Buddhism Plain and Simple : The Practice of Being Aware Right Now, Every

Day,Publication date 01 Dec 2018, Publisher Tuttle Publishing, ISBN10 0804851182

Berrett-Koehler, Publishers Being Buddha at Work: 101 Ancient Truths on Change, by Franz

Metcalf, Publisher Date: 2012-02-28

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