The Science, Research, and Innovation Plan 2023–2027 (SRI Plan) is a national policy that will support researchers to steer Thailand towards a more sustainable path. In contrast to most existing policies, which focus on poverty reduction through economic growth schemes, and national security,
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The Science, Research, and Innovation Plan 2023–2027 (SRI Plan) is a national policy that will support researchers to steer Thailand towards a more sustainable path. In contrast to most existing policies, which focus on poverty reduction through economic growth schemes, and national security, Thailand Science, Research, and Innovation (TSRI) aims at balancing the social, economic, and environmental aspects of the SRI Plan. While the TSRI has been incorporating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into its policies, it realized that there is the need to cater for diverse lives across Thailand. This research aims to support the TSRI in drafting a more inclusive SRI Plan, especially during the COVID-19 outbreak. Through the SDGs’ lens, the researchers collaborated with regional investigators to examine the area-specific needs across six regions of Thailand. Given the COVID-19 constraints, the horizon scanning and modified Delphi technique were used to collect data from April 2020 to April 2021. The results obtained from the participants unveiled that, while several issues are shared, each region ranked mostly different issues as their development concerns. The TSRI stands to benefit from these insights by drafting a region-specific national research plan. Regarding the shared concerns, the economic slowdown was ranked as one of the most grievous matters concerning the regions. Interestingly, through the interlinkage approach highlighted by the SDGs, the participants associated this economic problem with other issues unique to their regions, such as multidimensional poverty, loss of tourists due to the global pandemic, and drug-related crimes. Unfortunately, the relevant authorities usually treat these problems as being separate issues. A silos-dominant administrative system, combined with rigid regulations, prevents efficient cooperation. In addition to the economic issues, waste management and water-related problems due to climate change were ranked as significant concerns. Lastly, the participants also viewed injustice and the lack of good governance as drawbacks to sustainable development. From these results, it is evident that TSRI can draft a more inclusive SRI Plan to support research for sustainable development through the SDGs’ lens. Indeed, the Plan would reflect a more balanced view of regional needs than those formulated through the usual technocratic techniques.