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Sustainable Development Conference

Dili, January 25-31


Workshop Outcomes

The 22 workshops on sustainable development issues first identified 4 priority issues and then listed strategies to address them. It is not possible to go through each workshop outcome in the plenary, but all of the issues, priorities and strategies will be included in the book of conference proceedings produced after the Conference. 


The following document is a summary of the workshop outcomes.


Sustainable Economic Development


At all levels of society there are links between economy, environment and social well-being. The livelihoods of Timorese people depend on a healthy and productive environment.  More than 400 years of colonisation by Portugal, and 25 years of occupation by Indonesia resulted in widespread environmental degradation and poverty.  Sustainable development is fundamental to reducing poverty in Timor Lorosa’e. 


Appropriate technology, alternative income generation, micro-credit access, eco-tourism, value adding and certification of coffee are all opportunities for sustainable economic development.  Involvement of women at all levels of decision-making, and ensuring women have access to education and opportunities, are also vital to achieving sustainable economic development.


Through its purchasing policy Government can support sustainable local enterprises such as a recycling industry.  The supply of water and infrastructure can be achieved through partnerships between government and business.  Theses measures may help to stimulate markets for domestic products and services.  Taxes, subsides, energy pricing and electricity user fees, should also be designed to work for, rather than against sustainable development.  Financial arrangements for investment, currency, foreign borrowing and budgets require appropriate sustainable development analysis.  There is a need for transparency in national decisions about financial development.


Education- at all levels of society


Education was identified as a key strategy to achieve sustainable development. An educated community is a national asset and education and its associated research programs should be a high priority for Government and NGO resources.


Education programs and materials need to be designed to address the priority issues identified in the conference workshops and listed below. Curriculum on environmental and sustainable development needs to be written and taught in schools. More teachers are needed and all teachers need special training on sustainable development issues and how they can incorporate them into the general curriculum. Such programs will need to be diverse to meet the different needs and educational levels of East Timorese society.


Sustainable development education programs needs that were identified in workshops include: universities, schools, village communities, women, fishermen and farmers, seminars for building workers and foreign construction companies, tourist operators, language training, traditional law and cultural education, internet training, work skills, health, nutrition, maternal health and hygiene education, education about major projects such as mines and how they will affect the community, political education and the functioning of civil society, marketing skills, technical education, water catchment protection, reforestation and environmental health and leadership training.


Education programs need to be both formal and informal with practical examples used where possible such as demonstrating different farming techniques; construction methods, such as good latrine construction, maintenance and repair of appropriate technology, alternative energy and cooking fuel options, recycling and waste reduction and disposal and rainwater harvesting. Assistance in the form of micro-credit will be essential if farmers, fishermen etc are to purchase equipment.


Public education on sustainable development issues needs to be conducted using media such as posters, radio and TV. A free and independent media was also identified as vital to achieving sustainable development. Educational materials should also be available in libraries.


Capacity Building- at all levels of society


After more than 400 years of colonisation and 24 years of occupation and repression, the people of Timor Lorosa’e are calling out to be active and informed participants, in the process of sustainable development. This was a strong theme in many workshops. There is now an urgent need to empower people at a local level, through traditional structures and other organisations such as women’s groups, youth groups, NGOs etc, so they can participate in decision-making on all the issues identified at the Conference on Sustainable Development.


There is also a need to hasten the process of “East Timorisation” where the people of Timor Lorosa’e take over the positions of responsibility including Government, and UNTAET takes on an advisory role.


Young people, particularly students and former staff of government departments need to be called on to participate in a major training program that addresses the specific sustainable development issues listed in the education section. Extension officers should be available for all of Timor Lorosa’e and consideration must be given to maintain equity for the rural areas so they too receive their share of resources and training. Many issues are best dealt with at a local level (e.g. hygiene and waste disposal), and local communities should be given the necessary tools to develop their own appropriate solutions.


Transparent and Integrated Planning Process


Sustainable development requires transparent management of fiscal resources and holistic, cross-sectoral planning which recognises the many links between the environment and other issues. For example many health problems have environmental causes, such as the spread of diseases through poor quality water supply or improper disposal of waste and waste water.


Planning should draw on expertise in the community.  It needs a transparent, integrated approach, which is regulated and includes environmental impact assessment (EIA).


Infrastructure planning needs to be cross-sectoral (e.g. waste disposal is coordinated with transport, and water supply capacity is considered when tourism planning is occurring.)  Cooperation between departments will provide better outcomes for the community.  Planning to meet energy requirements is needed. A Sustainable Energy Futures group could be established to assist with policy formulation in this area.


Planning should be supported by good data. In many areas the data are poor or non-existent and priority areas will need to be identified for data collection. Such data and all information on which planning decisions are made, should be available to the community. Decisions on zoning, resources and management must be transparent and accountable. Geographic information systems (GIS) should be used.


Planning should respond to the needs of the community with bottom-up meeting top-down planning. Aldeia <> Suko <> Posto <> District <>  Nation, allows for a 2-way flow of views.



Clear Policies -developed in consultation with the community


Several workshops identified the need for clear government policies to guide the future development of Timor Lorosa’e. Policies and policy development should demonstrate equity in access to resources and services.


There was strong support for these policies to be developed in consultation with the people so they have ownership. Policy should reflect the need to find practical solutions and be drafted by a multi-disciplinary group. The final policy should incorporate the opinions and needs of local communities (e.g. the agriculture policy should reflect the needs of farmers.)


There should be ongoing communication and consultation with NGOs working with local communities.


Sustainable development policy areas suggested in workshops include Land Use and Land Zoning, Fisheries, Catchment Management, Forestry, Mining, Import/Export, Investment, Agriculture including Slash and Burn Agriculture, Import of Genetically Modified food products, Tourism, Energy and Waste Management.




Transparent System of Regulations, Enforcement and Penalties


Regulations are urgently needed in a number of areas, especially land tenure and foreign ownership.


Regulations should be drafted in consultation with customary leaders so that they recognise traditional land, individual land, and the different land zones such as forests, agriculture, industry, tourism. There also need to be regulations on citizenship, use rights of foreign investors, land tenure dispute resolution, import/export, environmental and social impact assessment for mines and major projects, company accountability, pollution prevention and waste disposal. Building regulations are also needed.


Regulations are needed to protect human rights, civil rights, the environment and labour rights.


Regulations should have enforcement mechanisms, and human and material resources dedicated to their enforcement, with a system of penalties that reflect the severity of the offence.


Recognition of Traditional Structures and Knowledge


The rights of indigenous people and customary law should be recognised. Respect for traditional culture and valuing local products are also important. Traditional materials have many advantages over imported materials, and modern technologies can be used to complement traditional designs. Recognising traditional law can assist with preventing problems such as deforestation and pollution. Traditional people have valuable knowledge and experience due to their very close links with the land, air and water.  Recovery of traditional knowledge and law should have high priority.