The last time we had a visit from Thai colleagues from the EARTH organization  in Arnika was in 2018. Therefore, we were glad they attended Prague's Biodetectors Conference in September. On that occasion, we took them around different parts of our country and discussed the challenges ahead.
At the conference, Akarapon Teebthaisong delivered a presentation on the results of studies that colleagues from EARTH have carried out in collaboration with Arnika and European laboratories. Thanks to his presentation, the guests saw what everyday life is like in the places where eggs, fish, crabs, and other samples are collected before they travel to their laboratories for analysis.
We also included many excursions in the program, including the State Veterinary Institute. Engineer Jan Rosmus, the head of the chemistry department, gave us a tour of the laboratories and showed us the equipment used to analyze samples for persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and other harmful substances. Another facility we visited was Enviropol in Jihlava, where electronic waste is processed. Our colleagues from EARTH were curious about this recycling plant because one of the cases they are dealing with concerns its unprofessional disposal, which you can see in the PHOTOGALLERY from our last mission.
Fighting for the right cause
We enjoyed hearing our colleagues' stories about working with Thai communities because there have been several recent court cases in Thailand in which people have successfully defended environmental destruction. For example, we wrote about Ban Muang Chum's village, whose residents sued the Thai authorities for being slow to act in a local landfill case. A big issue at EARTH is the promotion of the Pollutant Release and Transfer Register, a tool to control substances discharged by industries into the environment. Such a register exists in the Czech Republic, and Jindřich Petrlík, one of the founders of Arnika, recalled to his Thai colleagues how they fought for its introduction at the beginning of the millennium.
Our guests ended their trip to the Czech Republic with a trip to Jezeří Castle with its infamous view of the local coal basin. The program also included a meeting with the mayor of Horní Jiřetín, Vladimír Buřt, who is trying to prevent the town from falling victim to the breaking of the limits on lignite mining. The conversation with this inspiring man was an ideal end to the ten-day visit because he left us all with the impression that the right thing must be fought for, no matter how uncertain the outcome.
 Ecological Alert and Recovery - Thailand (EARTH) is a non-profit NGO working for social and environmental justice and sustainability in Thai society. For more information, visit their website: https://www.earththailand.org/en/