In Timor-Leste, coastal communities are facing challenges due to unsustainable fishing methods, sea level rise, ocean warming and other climate impacts. On May 11th 2023 Blue Ventures signed the first-ever Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on “cooperation, promotion and implementation of locally led coastal management to support sustainable development in Timor-Leste” with the Secretary of State for the Environment.
“I am excited to say that Blue Ventures has reached a milestone today with the Secretary of State for the Environment in the fight for our coastal communities and the marine ecosystems that support them. This MoU means that Blue Ventures has the support of the government to defend the rights of Timorese fishers to protect, manage and utilize their resources sustainably. One of the ways we do that is recognising Tara Bandu, a Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA), as a significant tool to empower coastal communities to manage their marine resources“, said Interim Country Director for Blue Ventures Timor-Leste, Oldegar Massinga Soares.
Blue Ventures is a marine conservation organisation that has worked with coastal communities in Atauro, Dili, and Manatuto since 2016 with programmes focusing on rebuilding small-scale fisheries by putting communities at the heart of habitat conservation. This five-year MoU highlights the partnership with the General Director of Environment to build a stronger relationship with the government to support LMMAs or Tara Bandu, participatory ecological monitoring, and the peer-to-peer knowledge network exchange between coastal communities.
Blue Ventures’ current work includes partnering with Konservasaun Flora no Fauna to improve the Mangrove Study Centre in Hera, building new mangrove nurseries, and the mapping of mangrove species for carbon sequestration. Moreover, Blue Ventures is also working with fishers from Hera on seagrass biodiversity assessment and engaging with local leaders and coastal communities on nature-based solutions and climate change adaptations.
“The General Director of the Environment is happy to sign this MoU with Blue Ventures seeing as their programmes pair well with the Strategic Development Plan 2030 of Timor-Leste. The conservation model is particularly interesting as it empowers the communities to be the leader of their own environment. We are ready to support Blue Ventures in their conservation programme and hope to strengthen Timor-Leste’s climate work ahead of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Turkey next year,” said João Carlos Soares, the General Director of Environment.
The MoU signing ceremony was held in Blue Ventures office in Dili, Timor-Leste. Attendees included the Directorate General, Mr. João Soares, and staff, a representative of the National Director of Biodiversity, Justina dos Santos Gonçalves and staff, as well as the Interim Country Director of Blue Ventures Timor-Leste, Oldegar Massinga Soares and his team.