Connected to the Mediterranean Sea and located in close proximity to natural reserves on land (Ichkeul Park) and in the sea (Marine Protected Areas of Cap Blanc and Cap Serrat) this northern Tunisian lake has been widely accepted for over a decade to be a marine pollution of regional impact and has been placed at the top of the depollution priorities of the Tunisian government and within the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean initiative Horizon 2020.
In view to contributing to the sustainable protection of the Mediterranean Sea, the Integrated Programme for Protection of the Lake Bizerte against Pollution project will allow implementing adequate infrastructure and sustainable methods of protection and prevention of all sources of pollution, “hot spots”, that could affect the environmental quality of marine and coastal ecosystems and the quality of life in the region of Bizerte in the North of Tunisia.
With a total budget of over 90 million Euros over a 5-year period (starting in 2016), the project, which is promoted and commissioned by the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development of Tunisia, will aim to eliminate the main sources of all kinds of pollution which are contaminating the Lake or the bordering populations in order to guarantee a healthy environmental state, to secure a level of quality of life and sustainable urban and economic activities such as agriculture, industry, tourism, aquaculture or fisheries. The investments will deal mainly with industrial sites and urban areas, reducing, collecting and treating air pollution, waste water discharges and solid waste. Technical assistance and exchange of experience with local actors involved in environmental management are part of the project.
The label delivered by the UfM in October 2013 is the recognition of a flagship project that could be an example for other promoters and institutions in the region, especially because of its great potential impact on pollution reduction and because of the exemplary dialogue set in place with local actors. The UfM Secretariat is working closely with the Tunisian Authorities on a cooperative method to secure sound environmental management of the lake including a series of stakeholders from public entities to private actors and NGOs.
About the Promoter and partner institutions
The Ministry of Equipment and Environment of Tunisia has worked closely with the Union for the Mediterranean to secure commitment and resources to the project. Self-financing from the government of Tunisia and a loan of 40 million Euros from the European Investment Bank are already set in place, whilst the European Commission – which supported the feasibility studies – will finalize soon a grant agreement and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is currently in the appraisal phase of this project. Expected positive outcomes should reach the total external financing needed of 74 million Euros.