Promoting sustainable and innovative economic growth

March 6, 2023

Launching of Blue Economy Discussion

@UNDP Timor-Leste/ Joel Filipe Gama

Dili, Timor-Leste (March 02, 2023) – On Thursday, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, Commerce, and Industry (MTCI) held a Round Table discussion on “Entrepreneurship as A Driver for Blue Economy in Timor-Leste” and “Launch of 4th Business Innovation Challenge 2023” in City 8, Dili. This event was opened by UNDP Timor-Leste resident representative Ms. Munktuya Altangel, Vice-Minister of Minister of Commerce and Industry Domingos Lopes Antunes and Minister of MTCI Dr. José Lucas do Carmo da Silva. And a series of thematic presentations were made by guest speakers. The main objective of this event is to discuss stakeholder’s perspective on the roadmap for the Blue Economy and identify the role of youth entrepreneurship in this context. The event was attended by government counterparts, authority of municipalities, representatives of all embassies in Timor-Leste, development partners, international and local agencies.

Timor-Leste, like many other small developing countries, faces the challenge of diversifying its sources of finance and moving towards a more sustainable economic model. Given its geographical location and access to marine resources, the blue economy presents a promising avenue for economic growth and development in Timor-Leste. The blue economy can help to create new economic opportunities and jobs, particularly in coastal communities, through sustainable fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, and marine renewable energy. By promoting sustainable practices and improving resource management, the blue economy can also enhance resilience to climate change and natural disasters.

In his remarks, The Minister of MTCI Dr. José Lucas do Carmo da Silva recognizes the importance of blue economy development in Timor-Leste and is committed to embracing economic opportunities in this area. As he mentioned, the ocean has been an important source of economic livelihood for the people of Timor-Leste, and investing in the blue economy can help to unlock new opportunities and create jobs. On the other hand, UNDP Resident Representative Ms. Munktuya Altangel stated that Timor-Leste is one of the small developing country with large ocean territory with significant untapped resources, and that there is potential to use the blue economy as a pathway for diversifying the country’s economy and providing sustainable livelihoods and employment opportunities to its population.

In 2022, UNDP together with the Ministry of Finance produced a preliminary roadmap for Financing the Blue Economy in Timor-Leste. The roadmap highlights the potential to invest in a range of blue economy sectors, including tourism, fisheries, as well as various types of sustainable aquaculture. Many of these sectors are still in the early stages of development while economic activity in some takes place only at the subsistence level. Conserving ocean resources allows Timor-Leste to develop its vision for blue economy fully. Realization of the blue economy vision requires whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches. The round table discussion brought together a wide range of stakeholders to discuss various perspectives.

During the round table discussion, Specialist on Blue Economy from Asia Pacific Dr. Amos C. Peters in his presentation on ‘Good Practices in Blue Economy Diversification’ pointed out that blue growth can work as a long-term strategy to support sustainable growth in the marine and maritime sectors as a whole. Joined the team, H.E. Vice Ministry of Commerce and Industry through the topic of ‘The government policies and priorities to support the economic diversification anchoring on entrepreneurship’ introduced opportunities and challenges to boost the Blue Economy in Timor-Leste. For instance, tourism and fishery in Timor-Leste is not yet developed enough but these belong to the top industries that the government is providing support. Furthermore, Mr. Celestino Pereira Gusmão, who represents Lao Hamutuk and speaks on behalf of civil society, emphasized that Timor-Leste has many prospects in terms of marine resources diversification through the blue economy. He also mentioned that it is important to continue the sustainable implementation of ocean policy such as securing & preserving marine resources. During a discussion on entrepreneurship development for the blue economy in Timor-Leste, Academic Representative Dr. João Saldanha, the fourth panelist, emphasized that it is important to raise productivity by attracting private investment and developing Blue Economy & Blue Entrepreneurship. At the end of the Round Table discussion, the participants agreed that the blue economy is an important driver of economic growth and that we should promote youth entrepreneurship to enhance the blue economy.

The second activity of today’s event was the launch of the 4th Business Innovation Challenge 2023, which will provide opportunities for young entrepreneurs in 11 municipalities to come up with innovative ideas to access the capital and package of business skill development. And in the same signing an agreement with 102 young entrepreneurs who were awarded a grant from 3rd Business Innovation Challenge 2022 through the YEES (Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship Skills project).

The YEES Project is a jointly funded project by the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), MTCI, and UNDP. With collaboration between key government partners including MTCI, IADE, SEFOPE, and SSYS, the YEES Project aims to overcome the lack of sustainable opportunities and capacity among youth and returnee migrants to be employed or self-employed. The project will focus on two streams. First, employment readiness among youth by enhancing their soft skills, providing job counselling and information, and on-the-job experience through internship opportunities. Second, job creation by fostering entrepreneurship among youth and returnee migrants through a series of entrepreneurship training, business competition, and financial access via a low-interest loan guarantee scheme.

In the bigger picture, this entrepreneurship initiative is part of UNDP’s commitment to the economic diversification of the country to bring more prosperity and resiliency to the population. UNDP is also committed to continuing to support the government in exploring alternative sustainable economic sectors of the country.


Contact Information: Hunjai LEE, project manager of YEES project, UNDP (UN House, Caicoli Street,Dili, Timor - Leste)