Tunisia Commits to Climate Change

Country writes provisions into constitution

Politics

A Tunisian woman protests for changes in Tunisia's new government on January 20, 2011, in Tunis.     Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

The club of countries constitutionally committed to climate action is an exclusive one. Only Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, and now Tunisia have written climate change provisions into their constitutions.

The North African country's parliament passed a climate change amendment to the new constitution with near-unanimous support from the assembly: 114 votes to zero.

The article obliges the state to guarantee "a sound climate and the right to a sound and balanced environment" and to "provide the necessary means to eliminate environmental pollution," according to Time.

In 2008, Ecuador amended its constitution to say nature "has the right to exist, persist, maintain, and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions, and its processes in evolution." In 2011, the Dominican Republic clearly stated that adaptation and mitigation, with respect to changing climate, are the responsibilities of both the government and the citizenry.

The Tunisian parliament has been drafting this constitution since the Tunisian people ousted longtime president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and sparked a wave of protest across the Middle East.

In a statement, Dhamir Mannai, who introduced the climate change amendment, said, "The passage of our new constitution is cause for celebration for many reasons. Having successfully challenged an autocratic regime, Tunisia is now ready to face up to a different kind of challenge: that of climate change."

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