King Bhumibol’s achievements recognized by the world
The late King Bhumibol Adulyadej was a man of the people who worked throughout his life to improve the conditions of all Thais and whose efforts and achievements in doing so were recognized by the global community.
To understand his people’s problems, King Bhumibol would often travel to poor and remote villages and sit on the ground with common people and farmers, engaging them in conversation. In recognition of his life-long commitment to the well-being of the Thai people and sustainable development of Thailand, the United Nations Secretary General Kofin Annan in 2006 presented him with the first UN Human Development Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2013, the UN General Assembly, at the request of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), voted to celebrate the annual World Soil Day on December 5, King Bhumibol’s birthday.
Soil health and fertility is absolutely essential to the well being of farmers and to the general population, as without fertile soil farmers could not possibly grow enough food to feed us all. King Bhumibol conducted several research experiments and initiated royal development projects to protect and restore soil health in Thailand and beyond. Preserving soil health is the very essence of sustainability.
But soil health was just one of many areas in which organizations around the world acknowledged King Bhumibol’s work and chose to honor him with awards and degrees. During his 70 years on the throne King Bhumibol received nearly 90 honors and awards from foreign governments and international organizations such as the United Nations, and 25 degrees and 14 fellowships from foreign academic institutions.
From the United Nations he received awards from the World Health Organization, FAO, the World Intellectual Property Organization, the United Nations Environment Program, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the United Nations Development Program.
One country that bestowed several honors upon King Bhumibol was the United States. In 1960, President Dwight Eisenhower awarded King Bhumibol the Legion of Merit, Degree of Chief Commander during the King’s visit to America, where he addressed a joint session of Congress.
The awards and degrees span a range of fields and disciplines that reflect the fact that King Bhumibol was a ‘Renaissance Man.’ His endeavors covered everything from the arts and sciences to governance and development. They include awards for peacemaking, public health, rice research, agricultural development and food security, humanitarian work and international property protection. He received honorary degrees and fellowships in music, art, photography, sports, engineering and medicine.
He earned them all through his commitment and achievements. And although he accepted and appreciated them all, there is little doubt that King Bhumibol valued one honor above the rest – the enduring love and respect of the people of Thailand.
Photo credit: www.mfa.go.th