Integrated programme to clean up Lake Bizerte kicked off
01/11/2016 20:27, TUNIS/Tunisia

(TAP) – Prime Minister Youssef Chahed and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission Mrs. Federica Mogherini, on Tuesday, kick-started the integrated programme for the protection of Lake Bizerte against pollution.

A unit of management by objectives was created for the implementation of this programme whose cost reached 220 million dinars, financed by the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD ), the European Commission and the Tunisian government.

This project, which is part of the European Union's Horizon 2020 Initiative, will be carried out over five years (2016-2021). It focuses, particularly, on four pillars: the reduction of industrial pollution, the rehabilitation and strengthening of the sewerage and wastewater treatment system, the treatment of industrial solid waste and improving the quality of life (through the development of the Lake’ s shores and extension of the neighboring fishing ports).

Chahed said the launch of the project a few weeks before the "International Investment Conference, Tunisia 2020" is a confirmation of the country’s ability to attract large projects and investments, and reflects the privileged co-operation between Tunisia and European partners.

He recalled that the clean-up of Lake Bizerte is part of the overall strategy of development in Tunisia and the attention paid to environmental protection which is among the five government priorities.

"This programme is another concrete example of Europe’s support to Tunisia that has become a symbol of unity, democracy and hope for the entire region," Mrs Mogherini said.

She added that "This project shows how the fight against pollution and environmental protection goes hand in hand with more inclusive and sustainable socio-economic growth, providing new investment and employment opportunities in various sectors such fishing, ecological tourism, agriculture and aquaculture. "

Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Fathallah Sijilmassi stressed that this flagship initiative is a success of co-operative efforts in the Euro-Mediterranean region for integration and regional stability.

The implementation of this initiative will have a positive impact on improving the quality of life for millions of citizens, thanks to the strong commitment to de-pollute the Mediterranean Sea, he said.

"With its innovative, integrated and participatory design, this programme will make the Bizerte region a model in the Mediterranean," said Minister of Local Affairs and Environment Riadh Mouakhar, stressing that the participation of all actors: Tunisia's partners, local authorities, industrialists and civil society is an important factor contributing to the success of this project.

The Ambassador and Head of the European Union Delegation in Tunis, representatives of European financial institutions, the Governor of Bizerte MPs representing the region, representatives of local and regional authorities, NGOs and civil society were also present at the programme kickoff ceremony.

Lake Bizerte is connected to the Mediterranean Sea by a 7 km channel and located in close proximity to natural resources both on land and in the sea. About 400,000 people live in the adjacent Bizerte region alone

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