UN Resident Coordinator's speech at 16+ Forum Annual Showcase in Dili

What’s next for SDG 16+?


11 November 2019, Dili


I would like to start by thanking the organisers WFUNA, all the sponsors, the Government of Timor-Leste and participants at this 16+ Forum.

It is a great to see so many people especially all the representatives from civil society groups from many countries of the world attending this important Forum.

Over the next few days, we have a great opportunity to share experience, learn together and build new partnerships, as well as discuss and debate progress on SDG 16+.  I hope that all participants will make the most of this opportunity.

It is especially good to see this event being hosted in Timor-Leste in this year which also marks the 20th Anniversary of the Popular Consultation in the country.

In July this year, Timor-Leste presented its first Voluntary National Review on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the High-Level Political Forum in New York. The VNR Report from Timor-Leste demonstrated the significant development progress that has been achieved in the country. It also noted the significant challenges remain for the country to achieve its development aspirations and make faster progress towards achievement of the SDGs by 2030.

Timor-Leste’s VNR report explains how Leaders and citizens in the country have sought to progress peace and security in the country and with neighbouring states. It also shows how these achievements have made it possible to progress other areas of development in the country (such as the provision of services to improve the well-being of citizens).  

In August and September this year Timor-Leste celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Popular Consultation and it was especially good to acknowledge the work of many individuals (national and international) who made significant contributions to the country’s development over the past 20+ years.

As the world approaches 2020 and with only a decade to go before we reach 2030, it is sobering to note that globally the data that is available shows that the world is not making progress at the pace that is required for countries to achieve the SDGs.

At the current rate of progress, we will find that by 2030 there will still be many people, especially those most vulnerable such as people with disabilities, the elderly and many young people, who will continue to be trapped in poverty and remain vulnerable.

In almost all countries progress on the SDGs is lagging and in some places we are seeing previous gains that had been achieved being eroded as a result of a range of factors including: growing inequality; threats to civil society and human rights; the impact of climate change and natural/man-made disasters; the impact on bio-diversity and the environment; the erosion of trust in key institutions of governance; and new challenges to multilateralism.

So in response to the question (What’s next for the SDG 16+?), I think that several things need to happen for us to continue to make progress on the SDGs.

Firstly, we need the protect the gains that have been made over the past 2 decades.  Secondly, we need to accelerate progress on each of the SDGs and to better understand the integrated nature of the SDGs. This requires strengthening existing partnerships and building new partnerships across sectors, institutions and disciplines.

Thirdly, we need not only to scale-up the work that is being done on all the SDGs but also to fundamentally re-consider the sustainability of our systems of production and consumption and their impact on the planet.

In Timor-Leste, in the next phase of the country’s development, we need to ensure that the progress that has been made in strengthening peace, security and electoral systems over the past 20 years, now needs to be enhanced by greater emphasis on strengthening institutional and individual capacities of all citizens (women and men, young and old).  We need to continue to improve governance systems and the quality of public services. Central to achieving these things is the issue of gender equality and inclusion of all citizens regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, abilities or other factors.

In Timor-Leste we also need to strengthen human development by investing more in life-long learning (giving children the best possible start in life and ensuring that life-long learning becomes the norm for all) and we need to extend health coverage to improve the well-being of all citizens.

Greater investment in sustainable agricultural practices, food security and nutrition for all, as well as strengthening sustainable management of natural resources and building the resilience of communities to climate change. These things together with a stronger emphasis on sustainable growth patterns can help the country to accelerate progress and create economic opportunities and Decent Work for all.

This Forum provides us with a great opportunity to share experience and learn from each other. To reinforce existing partnerships and build new partnerships that can help accelerate development progress. I hope that over the next few days, each of us grasps the opportunities that we have. If we do this effectively, we can ensure that wherever we work, we will be better able to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs and create a more secure and equitable world for all.

Thank you. 


Roy Trivedy

UN Resident Coordinator

United Nations in Timor-Leste


New book published on UN Peacebuilding in Timor-Leste


About the Book

Rising from the Ashes: UN Peacebuilding in Timor-Leste by scholar Ms Viji Menon provides an in-depth look into the UN's first experiment in governing and building peace in the aftermath of conflict, using East Timor as a case study. It examines how the Timorese have progressed after the UN left and the challenges that lie ahead. The book is covered in two parts: in the first part, the book examines the UN's role after it entered East Timor in 1999 as the de facto government; and in the second part, the book examines how Timor-Leste has progressed in peacebuilding after the UN's withdrawal in 2012.

Rising from the Ashes: UN Peacebuilding in Timor-Leste is based on the author's first-hand experience working in the UN as it restored law and order and built a state in a country without a government, any infrastructure, or human resources. The book argues that peacebuilding is a long-term endeavor and is a work in progress in Timor-Leste, based on the good foundations laid by the UN. However, like many other developing countries, Timor-Leste has enormous challenges to address; but it also has oil resources and a young population. Its future success will depend on how its oil wealth is managed and distributed, whether it is able to bridge the urban–rural divisions in the country, provide employment for its burgeoning population, and progress economically. Last, but not least, its future success will also depend importantly, on how its leadership deals with past, namely, the continuing intra-elite divisions that are a legacy of its troubled history. They have to transcend past divisions and unite Timorese society for the future development of the country.

The book ends with a set of recommendations for Timor-Leste and for the region, namely members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).


UN Secretary-General's Message on World Habitat Day

UN Secretary-General's Message for 2019

World Habitat Day highlights the central role our cities and communities play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  Well-planned and smartly managed cities can steer us towards inclusive growth and low-emission development. 

At the same time, rapid and unplanned urbanization can generate or exacerbate many challenges, including the climate crisis.

An aerial view of Dili / UNDP Timor-Leste

This year’s observance focuses on the problem of waste – and the potential of frontier technologies to transform waste into wealth.

Solutions begin with small steps individuals can take to alter the way our cities function.  We must reduce the amount of waste we produce, and, at the same time, start seeing it as a valuable resource that can be re-used and recycled, including for energy.

Waste collected on the shores of Timor-Leste / UN Photo

Frontier technologies can offer better and cheaper answers to these daily challenges. For example, automation and artificial intelligence can help sort recyclables more efficiently. Sensors in smart packaging can help reduce food waste, while other innovative technologies are turning organic waste into renewable energy and compost. And new materials – such as advanced biodegradable plastics – can reduce environmental impact.

But we still need to invest much more if we are to improve waste management.

With cities in the lead and frontier technologies in widespread use, we can achieve make major advances on the road to sustainable urban development. 


António Guterres

UN Secretary-General's message on World Tsunami Awareness Day

UN Secretary-General's Message for 2019

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the Indian Ocean Tsunami, when 230,000 lives were tragically lost in 14 countries. Since then, we have seen great improvement in early warning systems, not only for the Pacific Ocean but also for the Indian Ocean, the Caribbean, the North East Atlantic, the Mediterranean and others. As a result, many lives have been saved.

However, it is clear from the growing economic losses over the last twenty years that we have not yet fully learned the importance of disaster-proofing critical infrastructure. This is essential to avoid the disruption to important public services that can occur during tsunamis, earthquakes and extreme weather events.

The risks remain immense. An estimated 680 million people live in low-lying coastal zones; by 2050, this number might surpass 1 billion. At the same time, rising sea levels caused by the climate emergency may further exacerbate the destructive power of tsunamis.

Risk reduction will be crucial to our efforts to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals. On World Tsunami Awareness Day, I encourage governments, local authorities and the construction industry to pursue risk-informed development and invest in resilience.

António Guterres


Timor-Leste Foreign Minister highlights value of UN in resolving conflicts

Timor-Leste continues to be a reflection of “the best the UN has to offer,” Foreign Minister Dionísio da Costa Babo Soares declared on Monday before the UN General Assembly.


The UN helped guide the south-east Asian country to independence in May 2002 after years of occupation by Indonesia following the departure of colonial ruler Portugal in 1975. 

“We have a historical relationship with the UN. The UN has a permanent and very special place in our hearts,” Mr. Babo Soares stated

“Timor-Leste continues to be an example of the best the UN has to offer to resolve conflicts and maintain peace and the legal international order when its Member States join efforts.” 

The Foreign Minister outlined some of the achievements of the “young democracy” which continues to engage in areas such as rule of law, good governance and human rights. 

Gender equality and parity are also “fundamental objectives”, with women constituting nearly 40 per cent of the country’s parliamentarians. 

“We have adopted a plan of action  against gender-based violence, including an integrated victim support programme, the promotion of economic empowerment programmes and awareness-raising campaigns,” he added.

Regarding regional developments, Mr. Babo Soares said Timor-Leste and Australia this month concluded talks on the ratification of a treaty on maritime boundaries

“Timor-Leste continues to have strong and special co-operation ties with our nearest neighbours, Indonesia and Australia. We have deepened our relations not only with Indonesia and Australia, but also with all ASEAN members and we serenely await a decision on our request to join this organization,” he said, speaking about the Association of South-East Asian Nations.

Like other small island developing states, Timor-Leste is on the frontlines of the climate crisis.   

Mr. Babo Soares spoke of some of the impacts already being felt, such as an extended dry season which has affected crop yields. In response, the Government is devising policies related to sectors such as renewable energy, forest conservation and promotion of organic farming. 

Timor-Leste is also doing its part in global efforts to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which seek to benefit both people and the planet. 

The Foreign Minister said while poverty eradication is a key priority, challenges persist, and the Government is working to attract investment that will support transformation.   

He pointed to progress in tackling pollution and stamping out plastics use. 

“With respect to preservation of the environment, including ocean conservation, Timor-Leste has adopted a Zero Plastic Policy, which is one of our national campaigns against pollution. We are also in the process of establishing a plastic recycling plant that will allow Timor-Leste to become a plastic-neutral country” he said.

“My country acknowledges, and fully supports, the current multilateral negotiations on the Biodiversity of areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ).  We hope that they will result in a collective consensus, and that a legally binding international instrument is adopted to ensure the distribution of the benefits from a collective asset of humanity.”

Watch the full speech:

Kontaktu Ami

UN House, Caicoli Street
Dili, Timor-Leste
PO BOX 008
Telp: +670 333 333