Climate change: Tunisia at crossroads

Tunisia, which has for several years been facing the effects (drought, floods and fires), is now at a crossroads, as many other countries, and must act to prevent the situation from worsening, said Senior Urban Specialist in the World Bank (WB)’s Urban development, land and resilience department Dina Ranarifidy.

Speaking at a conference held on Friday to present the “Tunisia Country Climate and Development Report (CCDR),” published by the WB in November 2023, Ranarifidy pointed out that economic and climate-related challenges are no longer independent but rather interconnected.

She further recalled that the WB report had identified three priority areas that represent the main challenges: Water scarcity (a 66% drop in water resources per person and a 33.1% fall in agricultural production), sea water rise and floods (potential land losses of US$1.6 billion) and dependence on fossil fuels imports (a 2.7% increase in net emissions, representing an annual cost of US$6 billion).

To address water scarcity, the W
B report recommends controlling water demand, modernising, rehabilitating, and extending water networks and investing in seawater desalination and the reuse of treated wastewater.

As for sea water rise and floods, Ranarifidy recalled that the report called for establishing a regional monitoring and early-warning system to help people prepare for water stress and increasing droughts. Investing in hydrometeorological and early warning services in Tunisia could generate a 3:1 rate of return, with an average reduction of US$12.4 million in annual disaster losses.

As regards the decarbonisation of the energy sector, the official underlined that the stake consists in primarily ensuring energy sovereignty, adding that this action will help increase labour productivty by 2% and fueld savings by 10%.

According to the WB’s scenario, these actions could increase GDP by 9%, reduce poverty by 12% and slash energy emissions by 80% by 2030.

Taking the floor, Environment Minister Leila Chikhaoui said that although Tunisi
a contributes by only 0.007% to global emissions, it remains fully committed to efforts to combat climate change effects.

Tunisia has embarked on this process by signing among others, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), submitting and then updating its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), as well as the national ecological transition strategy approved on Feberuary 3, 2023, and which commits all the ministries, she recalled.

The minister further indicated that Tunisia has a major advantage when it comes to absorbing carbon emissions, namely the P. oceanica beds that grow in the sea and are considered to be carbon collectors 10 times more important than a tree in the Amazon.

She pointed out in this regard, that Tunisia provides ecosystem services, hence the need for its partners’ technical and financial support to strengthen this resilience for the benefit of the whole planet.

Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse




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