GoTL, UNTL and UNDP Launch New Center for Climate Change and Biodiversity

22 May 2014

imageStudents from the National University of Timor-Leste review the Executive Summary of the Initial National Communication on Climate Change during the opening ceremony of the Center for Climate Change and Biodiversity. Photo: Felisberta Moniz Da Silva/UNDP Timor-Leste

Day-long Celebration Commemorates International Day of Biodiversity

Dili, 22 May, 2014 – Recognizing the importance of addressing climate change adaptation and mitigation  to secure the nation’s development gains, more than 200 government officials, members of civil society, university leaders and students gathered today on the campus of the National University of Timor-Leste (UNTL) for the launch of the nation’s Center for Climate Change a Biodiversity. The launch coincided with a day-long celebration commemorating the International Day of Biodiversity

The Center is among the many initiatives undertaken by the Government of Timor-Leste to address climate change related risks and secure the country’s development gains. Its mission is to provide policy makers, natural resource managers, and development practitioners with the tools and information needed to develop and implement management strategies that address the impact of climate variability and change on all aspects of socio-economic development and to contain rising greenhouse gases (GHG).

“The objective of building the Climate Change and Biodiversity Center”, said Adão Barbosa, the Center’s Coordinator, “is to facilitate and providing data to the government to help make the decisions needed to combat climate change through adaptation and mitigation.”

Dr. Doctor Aurelio Guterres, Rector, of the National University of Timor-Leste highlighted the importance of positioning the Center at UNTL.

“Academia plays an important role in the fight against climate change and for biodiversity conservation”, he said. “This includes research into relevant areas to find solutions to climate change, providing data to government to make good decisions, and deepening people’s knowledge and understanding about climate change adaption and mitigation.”

Climate change is emerging as a severe threat to future growth and development in Timor-Leste. Addressing the challenge will require targeted mitigation and adaptive measures at the national and local levels to protect the country’s economy, infrastructure and overall progress.  This is according to the final draft of the Initial National Communication on Climate Change or INC, the first in a series reports that will serve to develop the country’s long-term Strategy and Action Plan to assess and mitigate the impact of greenhouse gases and address climate-related vulnerabilities. The Climate Change Center and the INC report were both supported by UNDP, which co-hosted the day’s event with the Government and UNTL. Key components from the INC Report were presented by Mario Francisco Correia Ximenes, Director of the National Directorate for Environmental affairs and Climate Change (DNAAIAC).

“The National Communication process acts as a key instrument to developing climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies, and is a mechanism to enable policy dialogue and raise public awareness on climate change,” said Noura Hamladji, UNDP Country Director, a.i. “The INC project undertook a number of activities such as a green house gas inventory, a mitigation option analysis, a vulnerability and adaptation assessment and other activities related to education, training and public awareness. The INC report is scheduled to be approved by the Council of Ministers later this month.”

Exhibitions of the biodiversity and climate change adaptation and mitigation initiatives by individual government, civil society, national and international NGOs and donor organizations were a highlight of the day’s events. These included presentations by CARE International, ADB, GIZ, Seeds of Life, JICA, Mercy Corps, the Foundation for Community Development in Timor-Leste, DNAAIAC, Red Cross in Timor-Leste, Kadalak Sulimutuk Institute and Timor Hopeseller.

The theme of this year’s annual event, Island Biodiversity, focuses on the importance of safeguarding the biodiversity of small island nations. Island nations such as Timor-Leste and their surrounding near-shore marine areas constitute unique ecosystems often comprising many plant and animal species that are found nowhere else on Earth. The legacy of a unique evolutionary history, these ecosystems are irreplaceable treasures. They are also key to the livelihood, economy, well-being and cultural identity of 600 million islanders—one-tenth of the world’s population.  The theme of Island Biodiversity coincides with the UN General Assembly’s decision to designate 2014 as the International Year of Small Island Developing States (http://www.un.org/islands2014/).

Click HERE to read the Executive Summary of the Timor-Leste Initial National Communication under  UNFCCC.