The Sufficiency Economy Philosophy

The Sufficiency Economy Philosophy

The Sufficiency Economy Philosophy


Sufficiency Economy Philosophy (SEP), is a visionary and award-winning idea, attributed to the Late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. An economic and social model pieced together after decades of practical experience and personal meditation. The idea crystalized in the wake of 1997 Asian financial crisis and is now seen as one of the cornerstones of UN’s international development goals. At its heart – the sufficiency economy is about placing sustainability at the centre of everything, not short-term goals – this is the key to a profitable and prosperous future.


In many ways, the idea was birthed soon after His Majesty’s ascension to the throne. King Bhumibol toured the length and breadth of Thailand and became aware of the hardships facing Thai farmers. Consider at the time the GDP was only about $200 per capita, he took a keen interest in rural development an interest which has blossomed SEP projects across 23,000 villages.


“Recently, so many projects have been implemented, so many factories have been built, that it was thought Thailand would become a little tiger, and then a big tiger. People were crazy about becoming a tiger…Being a tiger is not important. The important thing for us is to have a sufficient economy. A sufficient economy means to have enough to support ourselves…” – Dec 4, 1997, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, to a nationwide television audience.


What is The Sufficiency Economy Philosophy?


There are 3 core components and two underlying premises that are central to the SEP’s applications. The three components are reasonableness, moderation, and prudence. The two premises’ are knowledge and morality.


1.Moderation with reason, in the sense of not too much or not too little, is an Eastern concept. As His Majesty, the King has stated: “Being moderate does not mean being too strictly frugal; consumption of luxury items is permitted… but should be moderate according to one´s means.” (Royal Speech, given at Dusit Palace, 4 December 1998)


2.Reasonableness requires that the choices we make be justifiable by using academic approaches, legal principles, moral values or social norms.


3.Prudence: emphasizes the need for built-in resilience against the risks which arise from internal and external changes by having good risk management; Sufficiency Economy recognizes that the circumstances and situations that influence our lives are dynamic and fluid. 


These ideas contrast directly with the core concepts of a business, designed to empower the few (the shareholders) as opposed to the many. Central to SEP is the idea of long-term benefit and long-term profitability, instead of short-term gains. The sufficiency economy is similar to Buddhist economics. Sufficiency Economy is not a theory about how the economics of a country work, but a platform for rules, guidelines and good choices to the benefit of everyone.


Self-sufficiency offers the idea of limited production, protecting the environment and conserving scarce and essential resources. Production should be aimed at individual consumption, never use more than you need or can afford.


The ultimate goal of SEP is to eradicate poverty and reduce inequality as a means to achieve sustainable development. Over the recent years, Thailand has been able to share with the international community the application of SEP, with a number of partnerships that have been fostered, especially in developing countries.




The Sufficiency Economy Philosophy

About Sean Allan

Digital Marketing Manager at Aware Group: Working his way through the world of technology and Thailand as best as he can. Happy to contribute to other tech publications.