Sustainability Science

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 477–492 | Cite as

How might adaptation to climate change by smallholder farming communities contribute to climate change mitigation outcomes? A case study from Timor-Leste, Southeast Asia

  • Alvin ChandraEmail author
  • Paul Dargusch
  • Karen E. McNamara
Original Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Climate Change Mitigation, Adaption, and Resilience


The agriculture industry is significantly exposed to the impacts of climate change, and is also responsible for contributing extensive greenhouse gas emissions. As a way of responding to both adaptation and mitigation challenges within the industry, this article examines how community-based climate change adaptation initiatives might provide mitigation outcomes in the agriculture sector in Timor-Leste. Beginning with an exploration of nation-wide institutional responses to climate change, the study utilises interviews, field observations and document analysis to examine an extensive community-based adaptation program in two districts in Timor-Leste focused on increasing the resilience of the agriculture sector and the livelihoods of poor rural farmers. Analysis of this program reveals a largely synergistic relationship between adaptation measures focused on land and water management and agriculture and their corresponding greenhouse gas mitigation potential, including co-benefits such as soil/atmospheric carbon sequestration, reduced emissions, soil nitrification and reduced use of inorganic fertilisers. Community-based adaptation programs in the agriculture sector have a significant influence on mitigation outcomes, which is often overlooked in community-based programs. The adaptation program in Timor-Leste has provided useful insights into the inter-relationships between adaptation and mitigation at the community level, which could be further supported and scaled-up in other Southeast Asia countries and elsewhere.


Agriculture Community-based adaptation Integrated Mitigation Timor-Leste Smallholder Synergies 



The authors would like to thank the Oxfam Timor-Leste Community-based Climate Change Program team (funded by Australian Aid), especially Julia Kalmirah, whose incisive advice has helped guide this study. An early version of this research was presented at the 8th Conference on Community-based Adaptation to Climate Change in Nepal and the Climate Adaptation 2014 Conference in Australia. The authors are grateful for the comments and suggestions provided by two anonymous reviewers.


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alvin Chandra
    • 1
    Email author
  • Paul Dargusch
    • 1
  • Karen E. McNamara
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Geography, Planning and Environmental ManagementThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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