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Timor Leste

Leopoldina Guterres (right) talks with a local villager at a fresh-water spring on a mountain in Baguia, where women gather every day to fill their jugs. Scientists say climate change could exacerbate dry-season water shortages in the mountains across Timor Leste.

Every morning in the sparsely populated region of Baguia, high in the mountains of Timor-Leste, women and children rise hours before dawn. They grab a couple of jugs and trek to the nearest spring, where they wait in line, in the dark. For water. They wait and wait, with dozens of others, to fetch just enough water for a day’s worth of cooking, washing and drinking. “The chickens are still asleep when we get up,” community leader and school principal Leopoldina Guterres told me.

Read more: Thirsting for a Paris Deal in Timor Leste

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Photo credit: UN Photo/Martine Perret, via Flickr

Some of the most effective adaptation solutions are sometimes found in nature – take, for example, mangrove forests that live along tropical shorelines in parts of Asia and the Pacific. They grow where land and sea meet and they are the first line of defense against ocean-borne storms and hurricanes heading inland.

“Mangroves are a remarkable group of tough, salt-tolerant trees and shrubs that not only survive, but thrive in shallow seawaters,” said Raimundo Mau, who is a Director-General at Timor-Leste’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Read more: Bringing mangroves back as defenders of climate change impacts

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In 2007, despite mounting civil unrest, Timor-Leste established its first National Park connecting a number of endangered bird areas and encompassing a large section of the Coral Triangle, an underwater zone believed to hold the greatest diversity of marine life on Earth. Emelyn Rude is a Young Explorer studying the balance between environmental conservation and economic development in a nation of newly restored independence.

One of the incredible resources available to the people of Com, and the majority of those living on Timor’s coasts for that matter, are the country’s spectacular coral reefs. Timor-Leste is situated right at the very south of the famed Coral Triangle, an underwater area with the highest marine biodiversity of anywhere on the planet.

Read more: Climate Change’s Impact on Timor’s Coral Reefs

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