With support from the World Bank, in June 2022, Tunisia launched its first report on the status of the blue economy. The report, “The Blue Economy in Tunisia: An Opportunity for Integrated and Sustainable Development of the Sea and Coastal Areas” recommends initial guidelines for a national strategy in this area. Spearheaded by the Ministry of the Environment and the Secretariat General for Maritime Affairs, the report is the product of extensive consultation with stakeholders in the blue economy, including the public and private sectors, researchers, and various civil society organizations.
Tunisia has more than 1,300 km of coastline. Its coastal areas are home to 7.6 million people (more than 66% of its population) who depend heavily on coastal and marine resources for their livelihoods. The report identifies avenues for sustainable development of the blue economy through tourism, fishing and aquaculture, maritime transport, ocean-based renewable energy, marine biotechnology, and other activities.
“The blue economy offers an opportunity for sustainable development and wealth creation for Tunisia through sustainable use of marine and coastal resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, and healthy marine and coastal ecosystems,” said Alexandre Arrobbio, World Bank Country Manager for Tunisia. “I welcome the Government’s commitment to developing the blue economy in Tunisia as part of its next development plan,” he added.
The report identifies three strategic objectives: (i) promotion of economic growth of maritime activities (ii) social inclusion and gender equality, and (iii) sustainability of natural resources and ecosystem services. To achieve these objectives, five areas of intervention are proposed: establishment of institutional governance, promotion of resources and financing mechanisms, support for job creation, poverty alleviation, the inclusion of vulnerable groups, and gender mainstreaming, development of knowledge of marine and coastal capital, and strengthening of resilience to climate change.
Following the publication of this report, the Tunisian Government and the World Bank will continue their cooperation for the development of the blue economy in Tunisia. The World Bank has mobilized the PROBLUE Trust Fund to undertake the second phase of technical assistance, supporting a roadmap for the development of the blue economy in Tunisia. In the second phase of assistance to Tunisia, the Bank will conduct analyses and offer advice on institutional policies and promotion of public and private investment, in addition to providing support for strategic and operational dialogue with relevant stakeholders.
A USD 13.5-millions package
This report on the blue economy in Tunisia comes at a time when the World Bank Group has just announced a new $13.5 million blue economy program that will catalyze financing and provide an operational response to development challenges in coastal and marine areas of the African continent, including Tunisia. The program seeks to address the challenge that coastal countries face in managing their coastal and marine resources to stimulate economic growth and reduce poverty, while adapting to the effects of climate change.
Outside Tunisia, the seas and oceans not only provide jobs and food, but also support economic growth, regulate the climate and contribute to the well-being of coastal communities.
Many of the world’s people, especially the poorest, depend on healthy oceans for work and food. The need to harness, manage and protect this natural resource in a sustainable manner is therefore urgent. According to the OECD, the oceans add $1.5 trillion in value to the global economy each year.
The FAO estimates that nearly 60 million people worldwide are employed in fisheries and aquaculture, the majority of whom live in developing countries and are engaged in small-scale capture fisheries. In 2016, global fisheries and aquaculture production amounted to about 171 million tons with an estimated ‘first sale’ value of $362 billion, with exports generating over $152 billion, 54% of which came from developing countries. In addition, for some 3.2 billion people, fish constitutes almost 20% of the average animal protein intake, and this proportion is even higher in poor countries.