Following the turmoil of its emergence as an independent nation, Timor-Leste continues to be faced with enormous development challenges. Climate change represents an additional risk with the potential to cause further set-backs by undermining progress made on key development indicators, in particular food security. Due to its recent history, there is a limited store of scientific knowledge and research specific to Timor-Leste which might help to characterize the likely impacts of climate change. However, in common with its neighbors in South-East Asia and the Pacific, it is anticipated that Timor-Leste will face significant challenges as a result of climate change. In particular it is anticipated that the nation’s vulnerability to climate change will be intensified by its extremely high dependency on the natural resource base, inadequate infrastructure and lack of institutional capacity.
This National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) has been prepared by the State Secretariat for Environment located within the Ministry of Economy and Development (MED), Government of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. The preparation process has closely followed the guiding principles outlined in the annotated guidelines of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Expert Group (LEG) established under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). A central element of the Timor-Leste NAPA has been the establishment and active participation of six dynamic Sector Working Groups on food security, water, health, disasters, biodiversity and infrastructure. Members were drawn from across government, universities, national and international NGOs, donors, the private sector, international organizations and youth. Focal points from these groups were also actively engaged in consultation at the district level.
The Sector Working Groups adopted a two-step workshop process in order to identify the likely vulnerabilities and impacts of climate change on their individual sectors and to consider potential actions to address these impacts. Across all sectors, the main concerns raised related to changes in rainfall and temperature patterns and their effects on drought, flooding and landslides. These concerns were mirrored at consultations in the five Districts of Baucau, Bobonaro, Ermera, Manufahi and Oecusse, which were selected to represent the full range of possible climatic and agro-ecological conditions. The agricultural and water sectors were the two felt to be most heavily affected by climate change.
The overarching vision set out in the NAPA is to make the Timorese people more resilient to climate change, recognizing their high vulnerability in an economy that is dominated by subsistence agriculture. Adaptation measures will be focused on reducing the adverse effects of climate change and promote sustainable development. These measures will build on existing strategies and plans across all sectors within Timor-Leste including the National Priorities process.
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Through improved capacity building and project identification, government agencies and other actors will increase their abilities to insulate at risk urban and rural populations from the adverse effects of climate change.