The ATSEA-2 Project has been working to support the creation of integrated coastal management plans (ICM), including baseline assessments in the Barique Posto Administrativo region. The baseline assessment focused on climate change vulnerability and adaptation options, including ecological and socio-economic conditions at two coastal villages (Aubeon and Uma Boco) in Barique, Manatuto Municipality.

The ICM plan (2022-2027) was finalised in early January 2022. It outlines good practices for sustainable management of marine resources, including mangrove restoration and riverbank stabilisation, as well as suggestions for alternative livelihoods to ensure that habitats for key marine biodiversity species are protected. The report outlines principal issues and challenges in sustaining a number of valuable economic activities among coastal communities, particularly in relation to climate change. In addition, it offers several recommendations for ways in which marine and coastal environmental management programmes can be formulated, integrating both livelihood sustainability and nature conservation, with the full participation of local communities.

On 6 January 2022, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), working in collaboration with the National University of East Timor (UNTL) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) and Manatuto Municipality Administration, organised a validation meeting for the drafted ICM Plan. This meeting presented results of the baseline and vulnerability assessment, while also reviewing and validating the Uma Boco Suco Action Plan 2022; an integral part of the main ICM plan for Barique. The meeting, which included over 30 participants, was attended by several MAF officials, including the Director General of Fisheries (Mr. Acacio Guterres) and local administration officials. Keynote addresses conveyed speakers’ enthusiasm and commitment to the ICM process.

“On behalf of the Secretary of State Fisheries, I would like to confirm that we will continue to strengthen our commitment, working with the ATSEA-2 Project to develop and manage our marine resources in the Southern Ocean,” said Acacio Guterres in his opening remarks. He went on to emphasise that all parties in the southern sea area should be involved, including Postu Barique. “We all know that ICM is a community-based component that aims to develop marine wealth and manage it in an integrated manner,” he added. “The results will have a positive impact on the sustainability of community livelihoods and increase economic income for people living in coastal areas, so I would hereby like to invite all parties at Postu Barique to work together in overseeing the ICM development process.”

Speeches by leading officials were followed by the signing of a letter of declaration, witnessed by the MAF and UNDP Timor-Leste. Almerindo Oliveira da Silva, who is the ATSEA-2 National Project Coordinator and Mr. Acacio Gutteres, MAF Director General of Fisheries, said they were pleased to see the commitment shown by communities and the local administration towards the ICM development and implementation process. They expressed that they are looking forward to the continued good collaboration with communities and local authorities towards the implementation of the activities identified so far with regards to ICM implementation.

“I would like to give thanks to UNDP, the Secretary of State of Fisheries and UNTL, who have been working with us to develop our marine coast through the ICM programme,” said Mr. Evaristo Lima, the Postu Barique Administrador, on behalf of the Postu Barique community. “All of us who are present here will [be committed to] the ICM planning and development process at Postu Barique, so I hereby urge and invite all village heads – especially villages in coastal areas – to participate in this process,” he added, before concluding his speech with a look ahead to the potential effects of an ICM approach in the area: “we hope that in the future, this ICM programme can have a good impact on people’s lives, especially those whose main livelihoods come from marine resources,” he said.

The endorsed ICM plan is expected to addresses the governance of human activities affecting the sustainable use of goods and services generated by coastal and marine ecosystems in an integrated way. Specifically, this will involve the following actions: 1) facilitating a better understanding of the uniqueness of the coastal resource system; 2) integrating ecological, social and economic information to ensure strategic actions outlined within the ICM are responsive to multiple users and functions of coastal resource systems; and promoting interdisciplinary approaches and cooperation among coastal communities, to address complex development issues and ensure that coastal management efforts by various stakeholders are not duplicated or conflicting, thereby ensuring a more efficient and effective management system.

The developed ICM plan will also help the local governments of Barique and Manatuto to achieve social and economic development targets with regards to pollution reduction and waste management, food security and livelihood management, and marine habitat protection for sustainable development in the municipality. The ATSEA-2 Project will continue to support this process, as part of wider efforts to implement its Strategic Action Programme (SAP) and National Action Programmes (NAPs) in Timor-Leste.

(by Bernardo de Jesus Pereira Belo)