São Tomé and Principe


São Tomé
Sao Tome and Principe
0° 24' 0" N, 6° 43' 59.988" E

Capital Based Focal Point:

Ministry of Social Equipment and Environment

Tel. 239-12-22936

Capital City: 
São Tomé
Category: Social
Indicator 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source
Net enrollment ratio in primary education 98.3 99.2 99.5 99.3 99.3 99.3 MDG Database
Seats held by women in national parliament, percentage 9.1 9.1 9.1 9.1 9.1 9.1 9.1 7.3 1.8 7.3 7.3 UN Stats (MDGs indicators)
Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above) 84.91 88.3 World Bank
Category: Land
Indicator 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source
Agricultural land (1000 Ha) 52 54 55 56 55 55 55 55 55 FAO
Forest area (sq km) 274 274 274 274 274 274 274 274 World Bank
Forest area (% of land area) 28.54 28.54 28.54 28.54 28.54 28.54 28.54 28.54 World Bank
Category: Demographics
Indicator 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source
Country population 140,131 142,610 145,106 147,611 150,118 152,622 155,126 157,637 160,174 162,755 World Bank
Population annual growth 1.77618 1.75359 1.73509 1.71159 1.68412 1.65426 1.62734 1.60572 1.59658 1.59853 World Bank
Maternal mortality ratio (modeled estimate, per 100,000 live births) World Bank
Category: Indices
Indicator 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source
HDI - Human Development Index 0.466 0.474 0.481 0.481 0.485 0.488 UNDP International Human Development Indicators - Calculated based on data from UNDESA (2009d), Barro and Lee (2010), UNESCO Institute for Statistics (2010b), World Bank (2010b) and IMF(2010a).
Category: Economy
Indicator 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source
GNI per capita, PPP (current international $) 1,380 1,560 1,730 1,800 1,850 World Bank
ODA received as % of GNI 29.32 18.079999999999998 23.82 26.33 UN Stats (MDGs indicators)
Workers remittances (current US$) 1,000,000 1,000,000 1,000,000 1,000,000 1,100,000 1,500,000 1,600,000 2,000,000 2,000,000 UN Data
Category: Energy
Indicator 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source
Electric power consumption (kWh) World Bank
Combustible renewables and waste (metric tons of oil equivalent) World Bank
Fossil fuel energy consumption (% of total) World Bank
Category: Climate Change and Sea-level Rise
Indicator 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source
Carbon dioxide emissions (CO2), thousand metric tons of CO2 (CDIAC) 88 92 106 110 114 128 128 128 MDG Database (CDIAC Data)
Category: Freshwater
Indicator 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source
Improved water source (% of population with access) 79 85 89 World Bank

Climate Change

In 2005, Sao Tomé e Principé submitted its Première Communication Nationale sur les Changements Climatiques (First National Communication on Climate Change) to the UNFCC, followed in 2007 by its National Adaptation Programme of Action on Climate Change.

In some regions of the country, floods, sea-level rise and coastal erosion have reached significant levels, putting major coastal infrastructure at risk. Increases in temperature and a decrease in rainfall are the country's greatest concerns because these phenomena can decrease river flow and the amount of subterranean water available for use. In addition to the greater incidence of droughts and the increased length of the dry season associated with climate change  is the increased risk of flooding in the wet season, which puts added pressure on water resources due to contamination and sanitation issues. Economically, the negative impacts of climate change in Sao Tomé e Principé will be centered on energy production, agriculture and livestock. Human health suffers the effects of climate change as well with the appearance of new diseases in the country and exacerbates the effects of current endemic diseases. Energy and transport are the main sources of carbon emissions in Sao Tomé e Principé; however, current levels of emissions are absorbed by extant forest cover. In this way, the forest plays a key role as a carbon sink, but environmental pressure on forests due to the use of forest products in cooking and other domestic activities creates unsustainable resource pressures.

Sao Tomé e Principé National Adaptation Programme of Action on Climate Change

Natural and Environmental Disasters

The National Civil Protection and Fire Service was established with the power to coordinate national activities in the event of natural disasters, but that service
lacks the technical, material and human resources to effectively and efficiently carry out its functions when a serious natural or environmental disaster occurs.

Due to its geographical location, its geological formation, size and island nature, Sao Tomé e Principé is considered fragile and vulnerable to possible natural and environmental disasters. Within the last few years, the only major natural disaster was a landslide in the area of Rebordelo, in the north of the island of St. Thomas, which buried an entire community. The incapacity of the government to deal with this disaster institutionally or structurally was recognised, and an increase in response capacities has been identified as vital. The drafting of an Emergency Plan has been proposed to deal with such disasters in the future. Sea-level rise is already a problem in the country, and coastal communities are already experiencing the destruction of houses by flood due to intense rainfall and sea turbulence, along with the destruction of fishing equipment and coastal infrastructure. Drought has also become more common on Sao Tomé e Principé; in recent years the three-month dry season (June-August), called the period of “gravana”, has been lasting up to six months.

Sao Tomé e Principé National Adaptation Programme of Action on Climate Change

Waste Management

Sao Tomé e Principé has not ratified the Basel Convention. Although lacking a waste-specific master plan, the need for one is recognized: the development of a National Master Plan for the Management of Urban Solid Waste is to take place within the National Environment Plan for Sustainable Development (PNADD), although this document is ten years old.

The sector is characterized by the absence of adequate infrastructure for the collection, transport and depositing of waste, poor training of staff who work directly in the waste sector, and  low awareness in the general population as to the importance of waste management and sanitation. The District Boards and the Regional Government, which are responsible for the management of waste, do not have adequate facilities for this purpose and are mainly dedicated to (poorly) cleaning and collecting that waste which is collected from the population. In addition to the institutional and organizational problems that hinder the proper management of municipal solid waste in the country, rural exodus to urban areas has also contributed much to the degradation of sanitation and the environment. In six districts of the Sao Tomé et Principe Region, there is a characterized lack of control in the dumping of waste that occurs in various areas fully accessible to the public. The absence of the minimum screening of materials causes biodegradable and non-biodegradable materials to be deposited together along with hazardous medical waste, encouraging the proliferation of mosquitoes and other vectors of disease, which creates a significant public health problem. One major achievement by the government and civil society organizations in addressing some of these issues has been to encourage a heightened public awareness of the harmful effects on human health and the environment posed by urban solid waste. Initiatives in the country have focused on resolving the waste problem and on highlighting the education and training of members of NGOs and officials of the District Boards responsible for waste removal. Training in the areas of recycling and recovery of waste has been conducted in several communities, and there already exists programmes to process waste into manure to enrich the soil.


Coastal and Marine Resources

Sao Tomé et Principe submitted its Fourth National Report on Biodiversity to the Commission on Biological Diversity in 2009. At the national level, the Law of Fishing and Fishery Resources and the Law on Aggregates have been prepared, approved and published, which help to protect both marine and coastal national resources.

With a maritime territory ten times larger than its terrestrial area, the São Toméan population relies heavily on marine resources. Its two biggest economic sectors are fishing and tourism, which rely on the quality of marine ecosystems to remain viable. Additionally, fishing contributes more than 80% of animal protein consumed by the population, making marine resources vitally important to the subsistence of the population. However, the São Toméan coastal zone has experienced significant erosion due to sea level rise and the exploitation of beach sand by the construction industry, a result of insufficient environmental management. Dredging sand from the sea has also been pursued to protect beaches from sand exploitation. National fisheries resources have also experienced some degradation due to the lack of resources for the surveillance of territorial waters, which has led to the uncontrolled capture of those resources by foreign fishing companies.

São Tomé Fourth National Report on Biodiversity

Freshwater Resources

The development of a Water Master Plan is underway, as well as programs to supply the population with improved drinking water in all parts of the country.

Access to water is quite high, with about 96.8% of the population having access, and 88.7% of the population has access to piped water. However, this water is not fit to drink, and access to drinking water is quite lowat only 38%. Not all water supply systems have treatment stations, and the catchment areas where many people obtain their drinking water are generally unprotected and are susceptible to contamination. This situation increases the prevalence of water-borne diseases that are a major cause of mortality, especially in children. Despite worldwide scarcity, Sao Tomé et Principe has no general lack of water, with existing average annual resources much higher than current demand. However, the concern for the future is a long-term change in rainfall patterns due to changes in climate that may lead to some decline in the quantity available along with an increased demand, particularly for irrigation.


Land Resources

Sao Tomé & Principe has developed and is implementing its National Environment Plan for Sustainable Development (PNADD), which includes eight priority programmes on the environment and development; however, this plan is already ten years old. The National Poverty Reduction Strategy (NPRS) provides the necessary framework to address poverty reduction issues and contribute to sustainable development. An Agricultural Policy and Rural Development Charter has been prepared (although not yet enforced), as well as an Administration and Management of Parks plan, drawn up with the help of the European Union. One of the main constraints to good land management in Sao Tomé et Principe is the lack of a Land Development Plan.

Sao Tomé et Principe is composed of two islands and several smaller islets and is situated about 300km off the African coast. The topography of the islands is very rugged, and land is comprised of basaltic rocks created by volcanic activity, making for fertile soil. A high degree of vegetation throughout the islands - about 90% of the country - has helped to prevent soil erosion. The introduction of new techniques for construction of canoes with wood alternatives has helped protect national forests, reducing the number of trees cut down to build canoes for fishermen.

Although the most abundant natural resource is fish, Sao Tomé et Principe has the potential to develop newly found oil reserves. UNDP and FAO reports suggest that only half of São Tomé and Príncipe’s territorial expanse is inhabitable, with this area being occupied by industrial crops, including cocoa, coffee, palm trees, and coconut palms, of which 50% is devoted to subsistence crops. Despite the small size of the country and its high population density, the occupation of land for urban development has not been carried out responsibly and thus endangers future generations’ ability to gain full use of the country's natural resources. The process of distributing land to farmers, carried out with the support of the World Bank, contributed significantly to land degradation, having increased illegal logging and thus causing increased deforestation and deterioration of biodiversity as well as increased erosion. In order to protect fragile ecosystems, 30% of the nation's territory was declared a National Parks area by the government. This area covers the entire primary forest of the country.

AIMS Regional Synthesis Report for the Five Year Review of Mauritius Strategy for Further Implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action for Sustainable Development in SIDS (MSI+5)

Energy Resources

The Program of Action of the Sao Tomé et Principe Government has made it a priority for the energy sector to improve energy supply capacity, diversify sources of electricity and improve medium voltage lines.

Currently, the biggest contributor to Sao Tomé et Principe carbon emissions is the energy sector. The consumption of diesel for power generation accounted for 38.3% of total consumption in 2005, while firewood remains one of the most important sources of energy in the country with about 32.6% of energy use. The electrical energy from hydroelectric plants, the only source of renewable energy in the country, represents only 1% of domestic energy consumption, which shows the low level of development in that sector. Natural gas, used solely for domestic consumption, accounts for only 0.01% of domestic energy consumption. Government policies have prioritised the need to introduce new technologies for firewood use and charcoal production, as well as the introduction of renewable energy sources such as the construction of two hydropower plants that are currently in the planning stages. Urban centers have good access to electrical energy but in rural areas about 80% of the population lacks energy access. As a result, firewood and fossil fuels are the main source of energy for illumination and cooking in rural areas. The negative environmental impact of high consumption and reliance on firewood is ignored or excused due to easy access for rural communities. The strong reliance on fossil fuels intriduces additional economic vulnerabilities, as all petroleum is imported and subject to world price fluctuations.

Sao Tomé e Principé National Adaptation Programme of Action on Climate Change


A Master Plan on Tourism to develop the sustainable tourism sector is in the process of being updated.

There is a great deal of potential in Sao Tomé et Principe to develop a tourism sector based on current attractions such as colonial architecture and beaches. However, much of the classical architecture is entering a state of accelerated degradation, and the beaches are affected by the extraction of sand for construction use. Given the fragility and the sensitivity of different ecosystems that have great potential for the development of tourism, especially ecotourism, it is necessary to establish environmental assessment programs to determine the country's capacity for receiving tourists, promote community-based initiatives and mobilize sufficient resources to contribute to the development of sustainable tourism.



Sao Tomé et Principe is a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity and submitted its Fourth National Report on Biological Diversity in 2009. It has also established a National Strategy and Action Plan for Biodiversity Conservation of Fauna, Flora and Protected Areas to address the preservation of natural ecosystems. The Law on the Conservation of Fauna, Flora and Protected Areas addresses the conservation of ecosystems that are considered to be national treasures and the heritage of humanity.

Despite the importance of biodiversity to the socioeconomic development of the country, biodiversity conservation is not a priority for the government and natural resources are poorly managed. Although almost 60% of the land area of the country is comprised of relatively dense forest, the unsustainable extraction of wood for fuel and housing construction and the encroachment of local subsistence farmers on forest land to open it for cultivation are potential threats to forests. The clearing of forest land will result, in the short term, in a loss to the diversity of species and habitats and in soil erosion, and in the long term lead to mutation of ecosystems and climate. National parks covering all areas of primary forest of Sao Tomé et Principe, as well as other areas considered to have very fragile ecosystems, have the fundamental objective to preserve, conserve and protect forest ecosystems therein, as well as to protect animal species, plants and threatened habitats. To achieve this, authorities have declared 30% of the national territory as an area for conservation and preservation of natural resources therein.

Sao Tomé e Principé National Adaptation Programme of Action on Climate Change
Country Strategies: 
Title Programme Name Programme Description Year
PRSP - Sao Tome and Principe Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe: Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper Strategy Description 2005
UNFCCC Nat Comm - Sao Tome and Principe Première communication nationale sur les changements climatiques Strategy Description 2005
NAPA - Sao Tome and Principe National Adaption Programmes of Action on Climate Change Strategy Description 2007
NBSAP - Sao Tome and Principe Fourth National Report on the Biodiversity Strategy Description 2009
NSDS - Sao Tome and Principe
Bill | 08 Jul 2013
11 June 2013: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Risoe Centre has released a compilation report assessing the status of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) development, capacity building and opportunities in 15 Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. The report aims to inform decisions on policy making and project development to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the assessed countries and beyond. The 15 countries include Angola, Belize, Burkina Faso, the Democratic...
31 May 2013 | SIDS Policy and Practice
May 2013: The Rotterdam Convention Secretariat has announced that Sao Tome and Principe has acceded to the Rotterdam Convention. This brings the number of paties to the Rotterdam Convention to 153. According to the Secretariat, Sao Tome and Principe deposited its instrument of accession with the UN Secretary-General on 23 May 2013. The Rotterdam Convention will enter into force for Sao Tome and Principe on 21 August 2013. [Rotterdam Convention Website]
24 May 2013 | SIDS Policy and Practice
22 May 2013: During the Eleventh International Meeting of the East Atlantic Biosphere Reserve Network (REDBIOS), the biosphere reserves of the REDBIOS Network agreed to reinforce their commitment to the development of the Man and Biosphere (MAB)Programme and established different priority work areas. The meeting, which was organized by the MAB Programme of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Government of Spain via its Autonomous Organism for National Parks (...
External Resources: 
Title Programme Description Year
Government of São Tomé and Príncipe
Presidência da República Democrática de São Tomé e Príncipe - President of the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe
Assembleia Nacional de São Tomé e Príncipe - National Assembly of São Tomé and Príncipe (official site, Portuguese)