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Rio+20: Towards a Green Economy for Sustainable Development in Timor-Leste
Rio+20: Ba Ekonomia Matak no Dezenvolvimentu Sustantavel iha Timor-Leste

Comments by Alexandra Arnassalon, La’o Hamutuk

UNDP/MED workshop, Dili Convention Center, 30 November 2011. Page updated 11 June 2012.

La’o Hamutuk appreciates the invitation from RDTL Ministry of Economy and Development and UNDP to share our views during this workshop. We believe the topics discussed are fundamental for Timor-Leste’s future.

Timor-Leste urgently needs to adopt an alternative development model, including an alternative economic development strategy, because the current economic strategies being pursued in Timor-Leste are not sustainable economically or environmentally sustainable, and are socially inequitable. The challenge is not only to identify a greener and sustainable future as a goal, but also to be brave enough to tackle current problems, acknowledge misguided policies, and change direction.

Timor-Leste’s current development model is not sustainable.

Timor-Leste’s development model is based on revenues from the exploitation of limited, non-renewable oil and gas reserves. We will spend a disproportionate amount (48%) of our 2012 State Budget on physical infrastructure, while human resources such as health (2.9%), education (6.3%), and agriculture (1.1%) will get very little. Our Government largely ignores environmental concerns (as reflected in the choice to use heavy oil power plants, the absence of environmental impact assessments, etc.). Our country imports almost everything, and we violate vulnerable people’s rights when the state forces them to give up their land without appropriate consultation or compensation.

Notwithstanding repeated warnings from La’o Hamutuk and others, Timor-Leste is now falling deeper and deeper into the condition known as the “Resource Curse.” Its symptoms are, among others, high inflation (“Dutch Disease”), extreme import dependency, neglect of non-oil sectors and revenue sources, prioritizing unproductive infrastructure megaprojects over human resources, not developing effective local institutions and businesses, credible reports of corruption and failing to plan realistically for the long term.

Unfortunately, the 2012 State Budget continues this tendency. It contains almost nothing to increase domestic productivity, or to invest in productive and sustainable sectors, neglects social services and human development, increases imports and oil dependency, and allocates the largest part of public money to environmentally destructive mega-projects.

We need to radically alter Timor-Leste’s development model.

To be sustainable, Timor-Leste’s economic development must be based on sustainable sources of revenue. This implies a shift from oil-export-dependency to diversification of revenue sources, job creation, and development of the productive private sector. Spending more than double the Estimated Sustainable Income from the Petroleum Fund, as will be done in 2012, is not compatible with sustainable economic development, especially in light of our finite oil and gas reserves, which could be used up in only a dozen years.

Moreover, Timor-Leste’s people should be at the center of the development process, as they are our most important resource. Economic development strategies should concentrate on improving people’s quality of life and well-being, and the State Budget should reflect this priority. In order to achieve socially equitable development, special attention should be given to the vulnerable and poor, as they suffer the most from inflation; the lack of health, water and sanitation services; inadequate education; insecurity of land tenure; lack of local industrial and agricultural development; unemployment and environmental degradation.

Local communities are intended to be the beneficiaries of development efforts, and they must be allowed to express their own views, to define their priorities and to actively take part in all stages of the processes. Their right to control their food production and consumption should be recognized in order to achieve food sovereignty. Food security is not enough; Timor-Leste should be able to feed its own people without depending on imports or emergency assistance.

In addition, we need to give the natural environment the importance it deserves. A healthy environment, functioning ecosystems and protected biodiversity are fundamental to human life. Ecosystems provide many services, including water purification, pollination, erosion prevention, soil formation, nutrient recycling, the basis for agriculture and fisheries, as well as cultural and aesthetic values. Because nature is irreplaceable, the negative impacts of human activities on the environment must be sharply limited, and we should strive for positive impacts. This implies adopting sustainable, organic agricultural practices, environment-friendly infrastructure and energy projects, non-polluting vehicles, etc.

In conclusion, economic development should nourish both human and natural resources.

Behavior change is also an important part of the process. Every person is responsible to reduce her or his own impact on the environment, making choices like walking instead of taking a car for a short distance, minimizing waste, saving water, taking care of the fauna and flora etc. Timor-Leste’s leaders, and international organizations like UNDP, should set better examples as part of encouraging a green, sustainable future in this new country.

Thank you.

La'o Hamutuk agradese ba konvite husi Ministerio Ekonomia no Desenvolvimentu no UNDP atu fahe ami nia hanoin durante workshop ida ne'e. Ami hanoin diskusaun kona ba desenvolvimentu sustentavel no ekonomia matak nee importante tebes ba povo Timor-Leste. Timor-Leste tenke adopta modelu desenvolvimentu alternativo, tanba modelu desenvolvimentu agora la sustentavel. Ne'e signifika katak tenke rekoniese falhansu no muda orientasaun.

Modelu desenvolvimentu Timor-Leste agora la sustentavel tanba

  • Timor-Leste depende ba eksploitasaun rekursus naturais nebee la renovable no limitadu: mina-rai no gas. 95% rendimentu estadu nian mai husi mina-rai no gas.

  • Timor-Leste depende tomak ba importasaun, inklui hahaan, nebe fo ameasa ba seguransa aihan.

  • La iha atensaun sufisiente ba rekursu umanu. Hanesan, alokasaun Orsamentu Jeral Estadu 6.3% deit ba edukasaun, no 2.9% deit aloka ba saude.

  • Orsamentu Jeral Estadu aloka 48% ba infrastrutura mega projetu / agrikultura 1.1% deit.

  • Timor-Leste hetan inflasaun nebe boot (13.1%).

Haree husi situasaun hirak nee, bele hateten katak Timor-Leste hetan ona malisan rekursu.

  • Ita viola ema vulnerable sira nia dereitu wainhira estadu halo despeju ba sira la iha konsultasaun ka kompensasaun.

  • La iha atensaun sufisiente ba meiu ambiente ezemplu oleu pesado ne’ebe maka halo polusaun barak, no estadu la iha asesmentu ba ambiental, kultural, sosial.

Timor-Leste tenke adopta modelu desenvolvimentu alternativu.

Desenvolvimentu Timor-Leste tenke bazeia ba fontes reseitas sustentavel. Ne'e signifika katak tenke diversifika fontes reseitas no hatun dependensia ba eksportasaun mina-rai. Praktika hanesan gasta liu dala rua husi Rendimentu Sustentavel husi Fundu Petroleu la adekuadu ho modelu desenvolvimentu ekonomia ne’ebe sustentavel.

Povu Timor-Leste mak hanesan rekursu nebee importante liu. Entaun, povo Timor tenke sai sentru iha procesu desenvolvimento. Estrategia desenvolvimentu ekonomia tenke fo prioridade ba hadiak povo nia kualidade moris, no Orsamentu Geral tenke implementa objectivu ne'e.

Atu atinji desenvolvimentu ne'ebe sosialmente justu, tenke fo atensaun espesial ba povo kiak no vulneravel, tamba sira mak sei hetan konsekuensia liu husi impaktu inflasaun, falta servisu sira hanesan saude, be'e, sanitasaun, edukasaun la adequado, inseguro nain ba rai, falta desenvolvimentu agrikultura no industria lokal, desempregu, no degradasaun ambiental.

Desenvolvimentu ne'ebe sustentavel tenke haforsa povo atu sira rasik bele expresa sira nia hanoin, sira nia prioridade, no necesidades, atu sira sai autor iha procesu desenvolvimentu. Sira iha direitu atu kontrola ba produsaun no consumo ba sira nia aihan rasik atu atinji soberania aihan. Tuir lolos, Timor-Leste iha kapasidade atu sustenta nia povo la depende ba importasaun no ajuda emergensia.

Hakarak hateten mos, ita tenke rekoniese ambiente nebe mak natural nee mak importante tebes. Meiu ambiente nebe saudavel, ekositemas nebe funsiona diak, no biodiversidade nebe protejidu nee mak fundamental ba ema nia moris. Ekositemas fo servisus oin-oin hanesan purifikasaun bee, polinizasaun, prevensaun erosaun, formasaun rai, resiklagem nutrientes, baze ba agrikultura no peska, no valor kultural no estetiko. Ita la bele substitui fali natureza, tan ne, ita tenke limita impaktu negativu ba ambiente, no halo esforso atu bele hetan impaktu positivo. Tan ne'e, ita presiza adopta praktika agrikultura sustentavel (organiko), infrastruktura no projetu energia nebe maka amigavel ho ambiente, transportasaun sira nebe maka la halo polusaun.

Konklusaun, desenvolvimentu ekonomiku tenke desenvolve kapital humanu no kapital natural. Presiza muda ema nia hahalok, ne'e parte ne’ebe importante husi proceso. Ema ida-idak rasik iha responsabilidade atu hatun impaktu ba ambiente. Ezemplu, bele la'o deit duke uza transporte ba fatin nebe besik, hamenus foer, la bele gasta be'e no enerjia arbiru, tenke kuidadu ba flora no fauna. Lideransa Timor no organisasaun internasional hanesan UNDP presiza hatudu ezemplu ne'ebe diak atu enkoraja futuru ne'ebe matak no sustentavel iha ba nasaun ida ne'e.


In May 2012, the RDTL Ministry of Economy and Development, together with UNDP and UN DESA, released Sustainable Development in Timor-Leste: National Report to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, on the run up to Rio+20.

The Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and Analysis (La’o Hamutuk)
Institutu Timor-Leste ba Analiza no Monitor ba Dezenvolvimentu
Rua dos Martires da Patria, Bebora, Dili, Timor-Leste
P.O. Box 340, Dili, Timor-Leste
Tel: +670-3321040 or +670-77234330
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