Written By: Emma Websdale
Tunisia has become the first country outside of Latin America, and the third country worldwide, to make a constitutional commitment to addressing climate change.
The Tunisian constitution, which has been widely praised, obliges the nation to guarantee “a sound climate and the right to a sound and balanced environment”. It also states that Tunisia must “provide the necessary means to eliminate environmental pollution” – joining Ecuador and the Dominican Republic in including climate-change action in their constitutions.
Tunisia’s National Constituent Assembly passed their new constitution on January 26, 2014, with support from 168 MPs.
MP Dr Dhamir Mannai a member of the Climate Parliament, introduced the climate cause into the new constitution in response to legislators’ concerns about the potential impacts of a warming world on Tunisia. Tunisia already suffers from water shortages and temperature increases – two factors that are predicted to get worse with increased climate change.
“This opens the door for legislation for both the environment and climate protection”, said Dr. Mannai to the news team of Responding to Climate Change. He added, “As MPs we wanted to tackle the issue head on, and then tackle it through climate legislation, and hopefully [this will] put us in a position where we can demand that other countries do the same.”
In a statement supplied by the Climate Parliament NGO, fellow MP Hasna Marsit added, “[This constitution] represents a break from the inadequate policies of the past regarding sustainable development, and the first step towards building an effective climate policy which combines long term vision with a comprehensive and regionally-blind approach to sustainable development.” –
The new constitution is expected to give a significant boost to the country’s renewable energy industry. Tunisia holds huge potential for solar-energy capture, especially in the Sahara Desert. The country plans to increase the percent of renewables in its energy mix from the current 5% to 25% by 2030. Tunisia also aims to become a major exporter of solar power to Europe.