Timor-Leste Highlights the Importance of Protecting Biodiversity for the Country’s Future

Timor-Leste Highlights the Importance of Protecting Biodiversity for the Country’s Future

Noura Hamladji, UNDP’s Country Director a.i. and H.E. António da Conceição, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Environment plant an Ai-Portugal or Portuguese Laurel to commemorate International Biodiversity Day. Photo by: Sandra Magno/UNDP.

Dili – A cross section of government, civil society, international organisations and institutions, and approximately fifty school children gathered in the nation’s capital to showcase the growing awareness and increased importance being given to environmental issues, as the country celebrated International Biodiversity Day on 22 May 2013. The event highlighted the government’s commitment to protecting the young country’s natural environment, and through this protection, the livelihoods of its people. (Lee versaun Tetum iha ne'e)

The Timorese are heavily dependent on a healthy and biologically diverse ecosystem to support the vast majority of their livelihoods. For generations, agriculture and coffee production have balanced extraction with protection using Tara Bandu and other traditional methods that help regulate the relationship between the people and their environment. However as populations increase and the pressures of modernization impact on traditional agricultural practices, traditional support and protection mechanisms alone cannot always cope.

In order to address these kinds of degradation and biodiversity issues, the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) has been developed as a requirement of the United Nations Conference of Biological Diversity, of which Timor Leste is a signatory. UNDP has been assisting the Government in developing its Plan since 2007, culminating in its finalization in 2011. UNDP continues to provide support, including providing the finances necessary to make this International Biodiversity Day event a success.

“The NBSAP is an important tool for the Government of Timor-Leste and its development partners to coordinate actions that address the threats to biodiversity and strengthen the protection and conservation of ecosystems”, said Noura Hamladji, UNDP’s Country Director a.i. “The commitment, leadership and active participation of the national stakeholders will be crucial to the success of its implementation. I would like to thank his Excellency, the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Environment for the leadership he has shown in making this effort a national priority.”

The event placed particular focus on teaching school-age children about the importance of biodiversity in Timor-Leste. A drawing competition was organized around the theme and prizes were given out to the top five drawings.

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