The “Lake Bizerte Charter” a step towards its sustainable development: Horizon 2020 enhances stakeholder participation for the integrated management of Lake Bizerte in Tunisia

on 18 July 2012.

Lake Bizerte is a major hot spot of Tunisia characterized by major industrial pollution and pressures from many other activities (agriculture, urban, transport, etc.). The Horizon 2020 Initiative, through the European Investment Bank (EIB), will support an important investment in the region for the abatement of pollution deriving mostly from industrial activities, on the basis of the preparatory work carried out by the Mediterranean Hot Spot Investment Programme Project Preparation and Implementation Facility (MeHSIP-PPIF) under the supervision of the Tunisian Ministry of Environment. The project will also be the first to be ‘labeled’ as a Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) project.

For the management of complex coastal hydrological systems such as Lake Bizerte, a coastal lagoon connected to both the Mediterranean Sea and Lake Ichkeul, a variety of management techniques and frameworks could be used but managers and the competent administrations face serious conceptual, methodological and operational problems in properly addressing the complexity, fragmentation and  rigidity of the actual situation.

A Horizon 2020 CB/MEP workshop took place in Lake Bizerte (7-8 June 2012) to facilitate practitioners to overcome the above mentioned difficulties. It presented the underpinning Sustainable Development principles of integrated planning and the broad categories of the tools available. It described the progress achieved so far, the broad lines of the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) (including the 7th Protocol of the Barcelona Convention) and other management approaches for solid waste, maritime planning, etc., including the ecosystem approach, lessons learned from similar experiences in Algeria, and concluded in a common methodological approach and road map.

Based on the above, a very vivid and interactive consultation took place among approximately 60 participants representing major national, regional and local authorities and of all categories of stakeholders, facilitated by the H2020 CB/MEP Team Leader, Prof. Michael Scoullos. Through the consultation, the “Lake Bizerte Charter” for the sustainable future of the Lake was agreed by consensus. It will be further circulated for inputs from a wider set of involved stakeholders for the period of one month and a half. It is expected to be followed in the future by an action plan, part of which will be implemented through the necessary regulatory measures to be introduced, voluntary commitments of the various stakeholders and the investment scheduled within Horizon 2020, while some other measures might require exploration of alternative means.

The Horizon 2020 CB/MEP workshop was organized in close cooperation with the Ministry of Environment of Tunisia and MeHSIP-PIFF, with the support of the accumulated expertise of the University of Athens (UoA), the Mediterranean Information Office for Environment, Culture and Sustainable Development (MIO-ECSDE) and other partners of the consortium such as ANGed.