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Green Climate Fund approves $22.4 million for climate-resilient infrastructure in Timor-Leste

Timor-Leste farmer carries away crops destroyed by heavy rains. Manatuto, Timor-Leste, 2010. Photo credit: UN Photo/Martine Perret

7 July 2019, Songdo, Korea – At its 23rd Board Meeting the global Green Climate Fund Board has today approved US$$22.4 million for Timor-Leste to advance its adaptation priorities while focusing on more resilient rural infrastructure and strengthening local infrastructure development planning processes.

The approved amount will fund a 6-year project, the formulation of which was led by the National Directorate for Climate Change under the Secretary of State of Environment, which will focus on six municipalities most at risk to climate-related hazards: Baucau, Ermera, Aileu, Viqueque, Lautem and Liquica.

“As global warming increases, extreme weather events are projected to increase in intensity and duration, posing threats to social and economic development gains and ultimately affecting the lives and livelihoods of our people in Timor-Leste. The approval of this project, supported by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), is a major step towards achieving our adaptation priorities while addressing drivers of vulnerabilities,” said H.E. Demetrio Amaral Carvalho, Secretary of State for Environment.

Under the project, 130 climate proofed small-scale rural infrastructure units have been identified for implementation, including 38 water supply systems, 25 irrigation schemes, 216 kilometres of roads, and flood protection infrastructure that will benefit approximately 175,840 people in rural communities, or around 15% of the total population.

Beyond investing in climate-proofing key rural infrastructure – roads and bridges, water supply systems, irrigation and flood protection – the project will work to strengthen ecosystems through reforestation, as well as bolstering Timor-Leste’s policies, regulations and institutions related to climate change and disaster preparedness. This includes developing risk information services, vulnerability mapping and monitoring.

Timor-Leste frequently experiences tropical cyclones, river flooding, drought and landslides – all climate-related hazards expected to increase with rising global temperatures.

“On the ground, this project will safeguard infrastructural assets in communities and also livelihoods from the severe impacts of climate-induced disasters. More resilient roads will mean more secure access to markets, schools, health and administrative services. Improved irrigation and healthier forest ecosystems will mean more protected livelihoods,” said H.E. Demetrio Amaral Carvalho, Secretary of State for Environment.  “At the national level, it’s about strengthening the capacity of mandated institutions to anticipate and manage climate risks into the future.”

The project, formulated in consultation with government, development partners, civil society organizations and local communities, scales up proven adaptation measures and use of modern technologies, including drones for risk mapping and post disaster needs assessment.

The project places emphasis on empowering communities and the involvement of women.

“In 2010, with UNDP support, Timor-Leste’s State Secretariat for Environment (formerly the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Environment) finalised its first National Adaptation Programme of Action for Climate Change (NAPA). The NAPA identified infrastructure and disaster risk reduction as key areas for attention and so it is great to now see this project take flight,” said Munkhtuya Altangerel, UNDP Resident Representative

“The project cuts across the Sustainable Development Goals – including no poverty (SDG 1), gender equality (SDG 5), clean water and sanitation (SDG 6), reduced inequalities (SDG 10), sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11), climate action (SDG 13), and flourishing life on land (SDG 15) – and feeds into Timor-Leste’s Nationally Determined Contribution under the global Paris Agreement, supporting the small nation in its aspirations for low-carbon, sustainable development. UNDP is proud to have supported the government in securing this finance and looks forward to supporting its implementation,” continued Ms. Altangerel.

The Green Climate Fund grant is co-financed by $36 million from the Government of Timor-Leste, and an additional $400,000 by UNDP. Implementing partners include the Ministry of State Administration, Ministry of Social Solidarity, Secretary of State for Civil Protection, Ministry of Public Works, and Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

The project is set to begin in 2020 and run to the end of 2026.


Additional notes to editors

Timor-Leste is a least developed country with a growing population that remains largely dependent upon subsistence agriculture.

Timor-Leste is Asia’s youngest nation. Its past has been severely painful with several violent upheavals and social injustice. In 1999, as much as 70 per cent of the county’s infrastructure was destroyed during conflict following a national referendum for independence. The country has been under peaceful democracy since 2008 and is focused on infrastructure re-building.

Over the last few decades, the country has experienced drier dry seasons and wetter wet seasons. The trends are expected to continue in line with climate change. An increase in rainfall is predicted for areas of high altitude.

Extreme rainfall events such as tropical cyclones, droughts and floods are expected to decrease in frequency but increase in intensity.

Modelling and projections indicate climate extremes and related damages will at least double towards mid-century.

Geographic isolation, coupled with limited livelihood opportunities, renders communities in the country’s remote interior and coastal areas particularly vulnerable.

For more information on the project, titled ‘Safeguarding rural communities and their physical assets from climate induced disasters in Timor-Leste’, please click here.

Photos available upon request.


About the Green Climate Fund

The Green Climate Fund is a global fund created to support the efforts of developing countries to respond to the challenge of climate change. GCF helps developing countries limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change. It seeks to promote a paradigm shift to low-emission and climate-resilient development, taking into account the needs of nations that are particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts.

About the United Nations Development Programme

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in nearly 170 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations.

UNDP was one of the first organisations accredited by the Green Climate Fund in 2015 and is one of the largest brokers of climate change grant support to developing countries.

Laurelle Neugebauer | Communications and Engagement Specialist, UNDP Timor-Leste |