Climate inaction cost pose a direct threat to economic, social and political stability ( Ferid Belhaj)

The cost of climate inaction in Tunisia, estimated by the World Bank (WB) at $54 billion by 2050, shows that climate change is a direct threat to the country’s economic, social and political stability, said WB Vice-President for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Ferid Belhaj .

The funding required by Tunisia to offset this phenomenon should be obtained in the form of grants, given that the impact of the MENA region, which is currently paying a high price in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, is minimal, he added in a statement to the media on the sidelines of a conference dedicated, on Friday, to the presentation of the “Tunisian Country Climate and Development” report, published by the WB in November 2023.

Belhadj called, in this connection, for broader openness on the part of Northern countries, which have pledged to grant $100 billion a year to developing countries to help them cope with the consequences of climate change.

He also recalled that in recent years, the WB has undertaken to support co
untries in need with regard to the impact of this phenomenon on their food security, and will continue to do so.

Tunisia will shortly benefit from a WB support package in this regard, which will be discussed at the Board of Directors meeting scheduled for March 14, 2024, he announced.

Referring to the main provisions of the report, Belhaj recalled that it had pointed out the need to build resilience in some critical sectors such as water and agriculture, while protecting vulnerable communities.

The impact of drought is becoming increasingly important and serious, he recalled, specifying that this issue affects not only people’s lives but also the capacity of economies to generate growth and create jobs, in addition to the capacity of governments to draw up medium- and long-term plans.

This natural phenomenon should be addressed by attempting to manage and reduce its fallout by devising appropriate strategies, policies and instruments to identify solutions that will help ensure a more comfortable situation

In Tunisia, he added, agriculture had been the first sector to be hit by climate change, with a drop of more than two-thirds in the wheat harvest and the same for barley, adding that but beyond that, there has been a sharp slowdown in the economy.

Th official laid emphasis on the sharp rise in inflation in recent years, notably in the cost of consumables (food).

The report also underlined Tunisia’s growing dependence on imported fuels for energy production, an issue that constitutes a central challenge at the macroeconomic level, he said, citing as an example the energy deficit, which in 2023 had accounted for more than half of the trade deficit and the current account deficit.

Besides, the WB official pointed out that the issue of rising sea levels and coastal erosion raised by the report is becoming a vital problem for the Tunisian economy, which relies on coastal tourism, adding that the country must act and adopt new policies to reduce the impact.

The report, he said, called for a new economic mode
l that emphasises the role of the private sector in job creation. “We are not advocating the privatisation of companies, but we are calling for better performance and an alliance between the public and private sectors in service of mutual interest,” he argued.

He explained that the climate reports published by the WB help identify ideas for projects and programmes to foster the ecological and energy transition, and serve as a guide to the climate challenges facing the MENA region.

Aware of the seriousness of this situation and its major repercussions on the economic situation and the well-being of the population, the Tunisian government had supported the work of preparing the CCDR Report and had actively contributed to all the stages of its drafting, Minister of the Economy and Planning Feryel Ouerghi said.

These growing environmental challenges are likely to compromise Tunisia’s development efforts in the medium and long term and should be addressed with all due attention and foresight, by devising public
policies capable of meeting these challenges.

She called in this regard, the WB and all Tunisia’s technical and financial partners to support the implementation of the various recommendations issued and to stay committed to meeting the challenges of climate change.

Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse




Recent Posts