Youth-led green initiative in Timor-Leste

The Harvesting Day

November 26, 2021

Kios Matenek Space/Structure officially open to public.

Meet Kiosk Matenek (KM), the winning youth group from Timor-Leste Accelerator Lab’s Green Building Design Challenge 2020 who just harvested their first vegetables range from their hydroponic wall. Kiosk Matenek (in Tetum) or Kiosk of Knowledge aimed to promote locally source materials for buildings that are environmentally friendly and recyclable. The team has successfully built a prototype to showcase innovative approach to sustainable living in Timor-Leste. They also aimed at bringing more youth, women, community leaders and members to their space to practice hydroponics.

KM Team invited Community members to first harvest at KM space earlier this month and sharing harvested vegetables to UNDP Timor-Leste RR and Staff at UNDP Timor-Leste Country Office.

KM’s green building prototype features structures built using locally sourced materials such as local timber and palm fiber (Ijuk), solar panel energy and hydroponics system. KM Team Leader Fernando Cardoso said that his team has gained lot of insights during the design challenge right through construction phase. There was different technique in using local timber which was designed to not only support the building as whole, but it can be repurposed for hydroponics system. “we are passionate to combine local knowledge and new technology for KM space. But at times we are challenged by local builders who are so used to traditional way in construction, so we need to accompany them so the space can be created as designed”.

Early in October this year the KM space was launched and open to public. Josefina, other member of KM team admitted that the launching really marks their effort and determination to complete the prototype despite multiple challenges such as extensive covid-19 lockdowns and flooding in April.

From Green Building Design Challenge to prototyping a Green Building

The green building concept is driven by the needs of understanding how Timor-Leste is facing issues such as food insecurity and buildings that are prone to natural disasters. This is also to highlight that as per National Human Development Report in 2018, about 80% of youth are unemployed and about 25% of whom are demotivated to find jobs. Based on these facts, Timor-Leste Accelerator Lab aimed to explore how youth can be empowered to lead change among their peers and their community and how to work in partnership with their peers from different background for building mutual understanding, dialogue, and networking for any future endeavour.

First harvest day at Kioks Matenek Space.

The Green Building Design Challenge (GBDC) was therefore intended to promote youth participation in action for environmental protection and it started from 3 days consultation workshop in December 2019 with university students, academia, community leaders and government officials to exploring the possibilities of embracing local materials and creativity into our construction process. The workshop was participated by 150 participants including university students, architects and engineers professionals, representatives’ government agencies and community leaders. The workshop also offered participants with some innovation ideas from local and international experts that inspired participants to build their own prototypes based on information collected during the consultation workshop. Most participants were enthusiastic as the discussion on green building concept for Timor-Leste never been done before and encouraged UNDP to conduct similar workshops more often. The Green Building Design Challenge was then launched in November 2020 inviting youth groups with knowledge in architecture, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, and construction to submit design proposals. 10 out of 30 groups submissions were selected and invited to attend three days bootcamp and one final pitching day. Kiosk Matenek (KM) team selected as the winning team and three groups were selected as honourable mentions: Mesak Training Centre (MTC), Malumag Group and Eleven Unity.

First harvest day at Kioks Matenek Space.

What next? The green building prototype represents our mutual commitment towards sustainable development goals in climate actions, innovation and sustainable cities and communities. Through actions we can learn how ideas come to life and co-design new pathway for sustainable future. The opening of KM space to public also marks the beginning of advocating green practice in Timor-Leste with youth. The KM team admitted that buildings through sustainable design helps improve the quality of environment and human health by acknowledge its features. Through design can helps community to work together, empowering them in decision making about communal spaces that exist (the importance of designing user experiences in the building/surrounding), designing inclusive spaces that are accessible for all including people with disability. 

Timor-Leste Accelerator Lab team will continue to collaborate with KM team to understand how other local solutions and creativity can be used as knowledge product to solve pertaining social and environmental challenges in our society. KM team will continue advocating green practice to empower more youth to join. Their facebook page is Kios Matenek - Home ( We want to acknowledge our partners National Training Centre Professional Employment CNFEP Tibar, Feto Engenharia, Engineers Without Borders, Niceles Architect, PZ Design Architects, academia from the University of Dili and Dili Institute of Technology for their technical input throughout the entire journey. If you have any questions and suggestions regarding green practice in Timor-Leste please contact us at and