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The MDGs in Timor-Leste:

When Timor-Leste voted for independence in 1999, the country had no government, no policies, and very little infrastructure. In the process of building all of these things, the new government and the supporting UN mission aligned their planning with the hopes and aspirations of the people and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This means that in working towards the Government's National Development Plan (NDP), UNDP is helping Timor-Leste work towards achieving the MDGs.

Millennium Development Goals

As the newest independent country and the 191st member of the United Nations, the MDGs are an integral part of the development road map of Timor-Leste. Prior to being elected President, citizen Xanana Gusmao attended the Millennium Assembly in September 2000, where the member states a unanimously adopted the "United Nations Millennium Declaration".

The main document to come out of the largest-ever gathering of world leaders, which began on 6 September in New York, the Declaration contains a statement of values, principles and objectives for the international agenda for the twenty-first century. It also sets deadlines for many collective actions.

As a new nation, Timor-Leste only formally began the process of achieving the MDGs when the first independent government assumed control of the country on Reclamation of Independence Day on 20 May 2002.

In 2000, Xanana Gusmao led a countrywide consultation with over 1000 forums that included 38,000 Timorese citizens from all walks of life. From this national dialogue came the 20-year national vision for the country known as Vision 2020. It identifies education, health and employment as the peoples top priorities and indicates what people can do for themselves, what NGOs and the Church should do; and what they can expect from the Government.

The National Development Plan (NDP), formulated before independence works towards this vision, providing a 5-year development framework and strategy. The NDP's main objectives are poverty reduction and promotion of economic growth that is equitable and sustainable, and improves the health, education and well-being of every Timorese. Key development indicators in the NDP explicitly draw on the global MDGs.

The Vision 2020, the NDP and the MDGs

Vision 2020
By the year 2020:

"Timor-Leste will be a democratic country with a vibrant traditional culture and a sustainable environment; It will be a prosperous society with adequate food, shelter and clothing for all people; Communities will live in safety, with no discrimination; People will be literate, knowledgeable and skilled. They will be healthy, and live a long, productive life. They will actively participate in economic, social and political development, promoting social equality and national unity; People will no longer be isolated, because there will be good roads, transport, electricity, and communications in the towns and villages, in all regions of the country; Production and employment will increase in all sectors - agriculture, fisheries and forestry; Living standards and services will improve for all Timorese, and income will be fairly distributed; Prices will be stable, and food supplies secure, based on sound management and sustainable utilization of natural resources; The economy and finances of the state will be managed efficiently, transparently, and will be free from corruption; and The state will be based on the rule of law. Government, private sector, civil society and community leaders will be fully responsible to those by whom they were chosen or elected."

NDP objectives substantially overlap with the MDGs

  • Poverty reduction (Goal 1)
  • Food security and eradication of hunger (Goal 1)
  • Universal primary education (Goal 2)
  • Gender equality in education and other areas (Goal 3)
  • Improving health including reducing infant mortality (Goal 4), and maternal mortality (Goal 5)
  • Reducing the spread of non-infectious and infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS (Goal 6)<
  • Sound management of natural resources and the environment (Goal 7)
  • Extending access to clean water and safe sanitation (Goal 7)
  • Addressing the needs of youth including employment (Goal 8)
  • Cooperation with other countries, regional and international organizations, including the UN (Goal 8)
The future

Although Timor-Leste released their first National Millennium Development Goals Report in May 2003, there is still a long way to go for Timor-Leste be able to measure their progress in achieving the MDGs. Benchmarks and targets need to be set by Timorese stakeholders, utilizing available data from sources such as Ministries, the Poverty Assessment, the 2004 DHS, and other available sources of information. These benchmarks and targets need to be discussed and agreed between the Timorese stakeholders and their development partners. It is important that all partners understand the resources that will be required to meet the targets set, as targets without resources can't be achieved.

While the goals have been described as 'ambitious', they are attainable in Timor-Leste, if national and international development partners can work together.

Partnerships and Projects:

UNDP Timor-Leste has forged a close partnership with the Government Information Office (GIO), under the Office of the Prime Minister. In addition to funding two international advisor positions, we have worked together with government communication counterparts to develop effective MDG socialization tools.

One example of this is 'Playing Cards' with pictures and messages in the local language on sustainable use of the environment, good agriculture techniques, and protected species of aquatic and bird life. These will be distributed by the government to fishermen, farmers, and rural communities. Here are some examples;

'Quarantine is important and stops new pests being introduced to Timor-Leste'

'Don't burn the land as it causes landslides (through erosion)'

'Dugongs are a protected species, and it is illegal to kill or capture them'

This is the back of the cards and features the logo of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forrestry and Fisheries.


2005 Where are we now?

The 'Timor-Leste 2005 - Millennium Development Goals' booklet examines each of the goals, looks at where Timor-Leste is now, where we want to be, and at the way forward.

Please download a copy of the booklet in PDF in English or Portuguese, and visit back here soon for the Tetun language version.



Fact Sheets

The following Fact sheets are from the Millennium Project launch, which was held in Timor-Leste on the 5th April, 2005, hosted by the Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri. They show examples of how ordinary people in their everyday lives are helping their country achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

The Goals (English)

The Goals (Tetun)