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Environmental Pollution and Waste Management in East Timor


Carlos Conceicao: Environmental Officer, Environment Protection Unit (ETTA)


Pollution and waste management are key issues for the sustainable development of East Timor.This presentation describes: the regulatory and institutional framework for pollution and waste management in East Timor; the principal sources of environmental pollution (present and future); environmental issues associated with waste management; and measures currently being taken by the Environment Protection Unit (EPU).Current sources of pollution include tourism, agro-processing, fuel and oil handling, agricultural inputs, waste disposal sites and domestic sewage.The Indonesian Environmental Management Act (1997) is the primary piece of legislation governing environmental pollution in East Timor.Secondary regulations cover effluent discharge, marine pollution, air pollution, and the management of hazardous wastes.There are no regulations currently applied in relation to solid waste management. The EPU carries out investigations of pollution events in response to public complaints and applies pollution prevention principles in the environmental review of new investments.The EPU is in the process of establishing pollution control procedures including a system of environmental permits for industrial facilities.Groundwater quality monitoring is planned for selected districts as well as a survey of contaminated sites, subject to availability of funds.




Pollution and waste result from the activities of people who are unsure of or donít understand the impacts of their actions on the environment.This is an environmental issue that needs to be taken seriously by government and by all responsible agencies.Dealing with the effects of environmental pollution in East Timor is not just the responsibility of the EPU as a policy maker, but is the responsibility of all the agencies involved such as; Water and Sanitation, Division of Health Services, Infrastructure, NGOs and also of the general community.



Pollution and waste can affect ground water and the atmosphere and can also impact onthe aesthetics of the environment.Pollution and waste directly and indirectly affect the health of the community.



Pollution results from toxic substances from industrial activities and domestic waste that cause changes in the chemical content of the environment (water, land and atmosphere).







Current pollution sources


        Household food scraps.

        Paper, plastic, cardboard, and used bottles that are thrown haphazardly in the streets of city and village centres

        Domestic waste water.



        Metal shavings, used tins and asbestos.



        Excessive use of non-organic fertilisers by farmers.



Motor Vehicles

        Smoke from motor vehicles and other machinery.

        Used oil.



        Liquid and solid waste.

        Problems with local residents.


Future pollution sources

        Industry and factories.


        Mining (coal, marble, gold, etc).

        Oil and gas.



The Role of the EPU

The role of the EPU as a regulatory body for environmental management involves:



In terms of environmental legislation in East Timor, the government (EPU) is working to implement a number of regulations.However, we would like to apologise because most of the regulations that will be presented have been adopted from Indonesian law, while only one regulation is a product of the transitional government (UNTAET).The regulations are:

  1. Indonesian Government Regulation No 20, 1990 regarding water pollution.
  2. Indonesian Government Regulation No 23, 1997 chapter 6 paragraphs 1 and 2 which state the following: every person has a responsibility to preserve the function of the environment as well as preventing pollution and environmental degradation, every person whose activities may affect the environment is responsible to provide accurate information about environmental management.
  3. Indonesian Government Regulation No 27, 1999 regarding environmental impact assessment
  4. Indonesian Government Regulation No 41, 1999 regarding the control of air pollution.
  5. Indonesian Government Regulation No 85, 1999 regarding the management of dangerous or toxic waste.
  6. UNTAET Regulation No 19, 2000 regarding protected areas.


The implementation of these regulations is very difficult, because they are Indonesian regulations.Our new nation requires new regulations that are appropriate to our situation.



Pollution and waste management needs to be implemented in East Timor. There needs to be intensive public education regarding environmental regulations. Pollution and waste have a negative effect on the health of the community.



        Regulations concerning pollution and waste in East Timor should to be published

        Ongoing community education regarding the legal framework for pollution and waste management is required.

        There needs to be coordination between departments and NGOs involved with pollution and waste management, for example; between Water and Sanitation, Civpol, the Investment Institute and Legal Affairs.