The need to go beyond ‘business as usual’ for climate targets

Country efforts and targets to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions are anchored in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). NDCs are universal: virtually all countries that are signatories to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have submitted their contributions. The NDCs combine two types of targets: conditional and unconditional. The latter are targets that the country sets itself to achieve regardless of external support.

With the burden of poverty, debt, climate change emergencies and the impact of the pandemic COVID19 most measures designed in a pre-pandemic scenario are either not applicable to today's world or fall short of what developing countries need. As things stand, it is clear that many countries will not be able to deliver the nationally determined contributions they committed to under the Paris Agreement.

To go beyond “business as usual” GDP priorities or short-term targets we need to have innovative business models. The need to engage the private sector is indisputable. However, past efforts to address the causes of social and economic marginalisation have barely succeeded in disrupting persistent patterns of poverty and inequality. If private operators are to assume the role of agents of development, sustainability objectives must be at the heart of their activities.
Timor-Leste, as a Least Developed Country and Small Island Development State, did not need to present an NDC with specific emission reduction targets. Its NDC however notes the key role of agriculture, energy use and Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) in the emission trajectory and suggests that all three sectors offer opportunities for mitigation actions. While the NDC signals the country’s aim to establish productive forests, it also highlights opportunities for forest conservation and enhancing and expanding forest carbon stock.

Timor Leste


Launched in 2020, a GCCA+ project in Timor Leste intends to establish economic incentives for farmers undertaking meaningful climate change action at their own level, including sustainable reforestation activities. Through this system, every tree planted in certified areas of reforestation counts for the purpose of carbon sequestration. After an initial screening, interested forestry groups receive technical training and follow-up, allowing them to understand the climate change activity and the functioning of carbon credits.

Supporting such initiatives may imply changes of habits in rural communities and include new activities in the local economy. To ensure that stakeholders receive and even optimise the intended benefits, the GCCA+ will temporally support a favourable institutional environment and the development of capacities. Yet, developing countries like Timor-Leste should be offered a stronger dialogue with international partners, allowing them to learn and capitalise on similar efforts, and receive preference on existing carbon sequestration credit schemes rewarding their sustainable reforestation efforts.