Introduction to the Conference
Aderito de Jesus, Sahe Institute
Welcome ladies and gentlemen
I would like to introduce the Conference on Sustainable Development.
I was first introduced to the conference a year ago and have given assistance to its direction. There have been many meetings over the last year and much discussion. Others that have been directly involved with the organizing committee include representatives from Yayasan Hak, Haburas, East Timor Forestry Group, TaliTakum, ETADEP, Timor Aid and the ETTA Environment Protection Unit. The conference has been organised through this collective process.
This participatory process assisted in devising ways that this conference can be sustainable - how it can result in long-term positive outcomes.
Thanks go to the many people who have contributed their ideas. There have been open meetings at the East Timor NGO Forum (FONGTIL), meetings with University Lecturers and particularly in the lead up to the conference, a flurry of meetings with the participants.
In particular, I would like to welcome our many international guests who have travelled from many parts of the world to contribute to sustainable development in East Timor. Dozens of other people would also have liked to attend the conference but could not attend for various reasons. They would have come from organizations such as the United Nations Environment Program, the Australian Conservation Foundation, the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, UNDP in the Pacific region , the University of the South Pacific and the International Union for Conservation of Nature from the Asian region.
It is proposed that a Task Force on Sustainable Development is established to carry forward the ideas generated from the conference and to continue to use the important networks that have been established with our international guests.
Because the organization of the conference has its roots in NGO's - in civil society then the idea of an Environmental Resource Centre is another possibility.
Anticipated outcomes also include a framework for an educational exchange program and identification of priority pilot environmental projects.
In terms of education for sustainability and the environment there are obvious links that can be made with universities. The universities represented at this conference include; the University of the South Pacific, the Northern Territory University, the Australian National University, the University of Queensland and Murdoch University.
The obvious outcomes of the conference will be the results of the discussions that will be held over the next 6 days. From these discussions recommendations will be made and a conference proceedings book will be published. We hope that the outcomes of discussions can be used for identification of priority pilot environmental projects and can be used in assisting policy development.
To help these outcomes become a reality we have scheduled structured workshops each afternoon. The mornings are dedicated to plenary sessions. I look forward to the many presentations that will be made by both East Timorese and international experts. The importance of participation is emphasized by the comprehensive range of workshops. We hope that you will receive much from your time here.
We would like to invite you all to attend the final day of the conference. On the final day the workshop outcomes will be endorsed, and recommendations will be made. In the afternoon of the final day there will be a discussion about the establishment of a Task Force on Sustainable Development. Questions will be asked about the make up of the Task Force, about how will it function and what is its relationships will be to civil society, NGO's, the transitional administration and the future Government of East Timor.
The number of people that have registered, have come to the opening and have shown an interest in the conference is encouraging. It shows how much interest there is in sustainable development in East Timor. An interest of course from East Timorese but also importantly from Internationals. Sustainability is about strategies for the future and their implementation. We hope that our guests will also continue to assist us in the development of our future strategies. We can learn much from both successes and failures in other countries.
Many countries around the world have attempted to tackle the complexities of sustainable development. But in fact no country has achieved a truly sustainable system. Yet no country can create sustainability by itself. There are the many unsustainable issues that cross state borders. Those of poverty and climate change and human rights abuses that create movements of people. Sustainability is not geographically specific. A few people consuming a lot can cause as much damage as a lot of people consuming a little and the effects of consumption cross into the borders of the developing and developed worlds.
We hope that a Task Force on Sustainable Development can establish a strong partnership with our guests. A partnership that can cross these state borders and help build a viable sustainable future for East Timor.
Sustainable Development is after all is about building a global alliance without which we will not overcome the inequity of poverty, the continuing climatic destruction, or even begin to imagine a peaceful world.
I wish this conference every success in the makings of this global alliance.