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"Barcelona Process: Union for Mediterranean" Summit
Tunisian President Ben Ali Calls to Address Climate Change
H.E. Zine EL Abidine Ben Ali (right), President of the Republic of Tunisia and H.E. Nicolas Sarkozy, French president

The President of the Republic of Tunisia, H.E Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, called, in the address he had delivered at the "Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean" Summit, held in Paris, on July 13, 2008, for the need to energize solidarity among the Mediterranean countries in order to carry out concrete projects that consolidate the ability of the most vulnerable Mediterranean countries to address climate change.

In this context, Tunisian President called to:
- Establish a Mediterranean agency for the protection of the environment and the littoral, to be tasked with coordinating all initiatives and projects in this field.
- Create a Mediterranean observatory equipped with an early warning mechanism, to be in charge of coordinating the efforts between all parties and ensuring an efficient intervention whenever necessary.
- Establish a Mediterranean Centre for Technology transfer, particularly, as regards alternative and renewable energies, sea water desalination, and nanotechnology.

H.E. Zine EL Abidine Ben Ali, president of the Republic of Tunisia


Here follows the full text of the speech:
"Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, It is my distinct pleasure to express to His Excellency President Nicolas Sarkozy and the French Government my sincere thanks and deep consideration for organizing this meeting and providing best conditions of its success. We attach a great importance to the initiative of establishing a balanced and solidarity-based Mediterranean partnership, within the framework of the project "The Barcelona Process: The Union for the Mediterranean." We have expressed our support for this initiative since it was announced, as we believe that it falls in line with the principles we embrace in this field.

As we present, today, the vision of the South-Mediterranean partners concerning the environment protection issue, we proceed from our conviction that the environmental dimension is a strategic dimension not only for achieving sustainable development and guaranteeing the future of our Planet in general, and to the Mediterranean region in particular, but also ensuring the human right to life in a sound environment.

Our country has always been in the forefront of the countries supporting regional and international initiatives that consider environment protection the basis for a shared and balanced prosperity for all nations. Tunisia has also been committed to the implementation of the recommendations of the International Earth Summit, the Millennium Goals, and the projects included in the new Euro-Mediterranean initiative for the de-pollution of the Mediterranean. We have attached utmost importance to legislation concerning environment protection and the mechanisms necessary for this protection; and we have managed to make large strides and to achieve encouraging results in this regard.

We take note, with satisfaction, of the growing international awareness about the gravity of the environmental situation as a result of the intensification of climate change and global warming, and the frequency of natural calamities, which cause victims and famine, and bring about a deterioration of the environment and the attributes of healthy life. Still, it is necessary today to underline the great dangers threatening the ecosystem in the Mediterranean Basin, given the damages affecting biodiversity and the littoral, the pollution in the Mediterranean caused by certain economic, industrial and commercial activities, the desertification creeping from the south to the north of the Mediterranean, and the accumulation of different types of landed-based waste. This in addition to growing water scarcity throughout the Mediterranean region, which alone requires special attention, in particular, to water desalination and the use of alternative and renewable energies.

From this rostrum, we emphasize the need for our States to join their efforts in order to establish a joint policy that gives the environment its due strategic position in our Mediterranean region, and enables us to promote co-operation and solidarity through practical projects that can save the Mediterranean Basin from the growing dangers it faces.

Reality proves today our need to develop unified programs with clear objectives and mechanisms, in order to create a sustainable development zone in the Mediterranean space that takes into consideration the international environment protection standards.

To confer more efficiency on our joint action, we suggest the establishment of a Mediterranean agency for the protection of the environment and the littoral, to be tasked with co ordinating all initiatives and projects in this field. We are convinced that fighting pollution in the Mediterranean and preventing various types of maritime accidents require, on our part, a more efficient co-operation and a stronger solidarity, so that we can preserve its waters, depths and coasts, and protect economic activities in the Mediterranean, particularly coastal fishing, and related social aspects.

In this context, we suggest the establishment of a Mediterranean observatory equipped with an early warning mechanism, to be in charge of co-ordinating the efforts between all parties and ensuring an efficient intervention whenever necessary. In light of the continuous rise of oil prices, we are called upon to think about efficient solutions to alleviate its consequences, one of which being to develop technologies of production of alternative and renewable energies. In this context, we are pleased to commend the German initiative concerning the adoption of a "Mediterranean Project for Solar Energy."

We are convinced that the space of this Union will offer us genuine opportunities for the transfer of technologies toward the countries of the south, and for the establishment of appropriate financial mechanisms, with preferential conditions, to facilitate these countries' access to these technologies. We therefore, call for the creation of a Mediterranean Centre for Technology Transfer, particularly as regards alternative and renewable energies, sea-water desalination and nanotechnology.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, We rely on our joint efforts to disseminate a comprehensive and efficient environmental culture in our Mediterranean region, materialized through the daily behaviour of our citizens and our economic actors. In this regard, it is necessary to establish a multidimensional partnership for the protection of the ecosystem in our region, through which we all contribute to protecting our peoples and our Planet from the dangers of climate change.

We also underline, on this occasion, the need to materialize the principle of solidarity among our countries. For in the absence of such a solidarity, our Union will not be able to implement concrete projects that consolidate the ability of the most vulnerable Mediterranean countries to address climate change. In our view, the Mediterranean can only be a space of solidarity.

In this respect, we should not lose sight of the vital role entrusted to civil society components acting, in our countries, in the ecological field, to sustain the efforts of our states in this field. This prompts us to offer them support and encouragement, and to grant them their due place in our programs and projects.

Tunisia and the South-Mediterranean countries confirm their openness and willingness to move ahead in building a common future for all Euro-Mediterranean counties, based on the principles of mutual respect, constructive dialogue, reciprocal interests and solidarity-based partnership, and on a comprehensive approach to sustainable development in which the ecological dimension is granted all due attention by all the concerned parties."



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