Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC): Tunisian Youth at The Heart of The Conversation

A group of young Tunisian activists and experts joined the conversation on NDC enhancement

Considering that countries have different circumstances, resources and abilities, the Paris agreement was designed so that each country defines its pledges, in terms of targets and contributions to the universal agreement. Ahead of COP26, some countries are still preparing to submit their enhanced version of their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The initial NDC wasn’t ambitious enough to combat climate change and its impacts. Tunisia is in the process of finalizing and submitting its revised 2020 NDC’s. However, there are still some additional inputs that have to be considered in its contributions. 

In this regard, a group of Tunisian youth proposed to Tunisia’s UNFCCC Focal Point  Mr. Mohamed Zmerli to have their contributions and recommendations included in the NDC. It’s worth mentioning that this is not the first time our national focal point supported youth initiatives climate-related. Consequently, the Ministry of Local Affairs and Environment with support from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP),organized a workshop entitled "Contributions of Young People in Updating the NDCs" on 16th February 2021, while this workshop was open to the public, public attendees were following the session online to comply with COVID-19 safety measures. An exchange with the national experts, activists and civil society representatives followed each block of contributions.

The young contributors along, the UNFCCC focal point, government representatives and experts. Courtesy of Tunisian Ministry of Local Affairs and Environment.

Background of The Initiative.

The idea of gathering young environmental activists from different backgrounds to collaborate together on the enhancement of the Tunisian NDC was initiated by Emna Fourati and Wafa Hmadi, two Tunisian climate consultants, who have been working on different climate-related initiatives for many years.

From diverse backgrounds and with a strong will and ambition to add value to the Tunisian NDC, young people presented a well-thought-out work that was the fruit of one year’s preparation. They demonstrated adaptation and mitigation strategies resulting in impacting sustainable development and achieving climate resilience in Tunisia.  It has since become their ambition and target to convince and engage government officials/leaders to take more actions and demonstrate more ambition by updating the Tunisian NDC.

From front to back, left to right: Wafa Hmadi, Soumaya Zaddem, Malek Romdhane, and Ahmed Belhaj Courtesy of Tunisian Ministry of Local Affairs and Environment.

Themes of The Contributions.

These contributions were mainly elaborated and presented by Tunisian climate activists, each in their domain of expertise. Tunisian youth's ambitions as demonstrated in their new NDCs' recommendations is bigger in line with the Tunisian climate policies and the international agendas and commitments. It is therefore worth noting the following different contribution areas:

Cities and local governance: Local governance proposal for the Tunisian NDC enhancement, by taking into consideration the integration of the local climate action approach in the national climate engagements.

Environmental education: The integration of environmental education from the school's curriculum is a fundamental step towards solving the majority of environmental problems that we are facing, and this will be increasingly critical in the next few years.

Disaster Risk Reduction: Disaster risk reduction needs to be outlined as a specific adaptation priority in the Tunisian NDCs and to focus on building DRR short, medium and long term action plans with considerable relation to all the international commitments. 

Sustainable Tourism: Sustainable tourism contribution outlines the needs for mitigation strategies to reduce the GHG emissions in the tourism sector and Increase the level of ambition of mitigation measures. Decarbonizing the tourism sector and compensating for the emissions that we cannot cut is the solution for sustainable development.

Emna Fourati moderating the session. Courtesy of Tunisian Ministry of Local Affairs and Environment

Access to environmental information: Access to information plays an important role for Tunisia, a country that's in the midst of a democratic process. Additionally, access to environmental information will enable the concerned institutions to demonstrate greater transparency of scientific data relating to climate change.

Vulnerable population: The integration of vulnerable populations into the process of creating comprehensive climate change adaptation/mitigation strategies is vital. The survival of society starts with how resilient the minorities and vulnerable populations are. When marginalized communities are strong enough to adapt to climate change, the whole society will be able to survive.

Human rights: Human rights are a concept that everyone is talking about. When the matter is related to the environment and climate change, a gap still exists between what must be respected and what is done.

In the hope of taking into consideration the recommendations that have been shared by Tunisian youths and different experts, it’s conspicuous that these proposals are a key factor for meaningful change towards a sustainable future in tackling climate change. These ambitions can only be achieved through such strengthening recommendations to the Tunisian NDC. In the same spirit, this is an open call for the Tunisian ministries to involve youth in drafting the national strategies and consider our inputs while executing the action plans

Names of activists in the order of their contributions:

Emna Fourati and Wafa Hmadi, Ahmed Belhaj, Rahma Chikh, Soumaya Zaddem, Malek Romdhane, Rahma Chikh,  Imen Al-Nighaoui, Nadia Ben Aissa

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