World Bank report on climate and development in Tunisia paints a worrying picture for Tunisia if the country fails to manage risks arising from climate change, writes Dhafer Saïdane.
The World Bank’s National Report on Climate and Development in Tunisia (CCDR) has just been published on the eve of COP28. In a rather alarmist tone, the 80 pages take us away from the image of beautiful Tunisia, the one anchored in the collective imagination.
The tone is dry and uncompromising. Climate change affects us inexorably.
2050: Will everything change for the Tunisian citizen?
2050 seems to be a fateful date when everything will change. First, the simultaneous increase in the frequency of extreme climate risks. Added to this is significant water stress since water demand will exceed supply by 28%!
Then the coastal erosion of 70 cm per year and the submersion of the land due to rising sea levels and flooding are chilling.
The report states clearly and coldly: “If Tunisia does not urgently manage these risks linked to climate change, the economy could contract by 3.4% in terms of GDP by 2030 (nearly 5.6 billion of DT ($1.0 billion) per year in net present value). .”
Tunisia is held by its CDN: but where to find the means?
Tunisia is bound by the CDN that it has defined. The NDC, or “nationally determined contribution,” is a climate action plan aimed at reducing emissions and adapting to the effects of climate change. Tunisia, to reach its CDN, needs around 19.4 billion dollars over the period 2021-2030, but the country’s annual budget does not exceed 25 billion. In other words, where to find this money?
An absence of climate governance
However, Tunisia still has weak climate change governance functions: no framework law, no risk assessment, no climate spending planned in the budget, etc.
With the State already numbed by economic and social crises, action on climate in Tunisia seemed secondary, even like a luxury, barely three years ago. Today, the issue of climate and CSR (corporate social responsibility) in general are addressed in a scattered manner. Everyone has their own vision and “sound of bell” mixing public and private organizations, in short a cacophony amplified by a profusion of self-proclaimed CSR experts.
When it comes to strengthening infrastructure, protecting, decarbonizing and improving energy efficiency, the report takes few risks and remains very classic in its suggestions.
The eternal idea of reducing spending, including energy subsidies, is mixed with the idea that a number of areas will still depend on public investment. This involves investments in public infrastructure such as water supply, coastal management, etc.
But at the same time, the report suggests that it is important to rely on private, bilateral, multilateral and international financing, essential to meeting important climate investment needs.
Finally, banks to finance and manage climate risks are not forgotten, just like the financial market.
These are beautiful and respectable ideas. But in the face of an unprecedented emergency, we cannot continue to use the same conventional instruments. And then what about training beyond the technical training mentioned in the report? What about ESG experts, ecological and digital transition analysts, and specialists who will define solutions adapted to the country, particularly in terms of financing? Who will train them?
Suffice it to say that several links in the transition chain are missing. The merit of this report nevertheless remains that of launching a structuring debate commensurate with the issues that affect this beautiful country day after day.