SDG 15

Preserving Terrestrial Biodiversity in Senegal and Tunisia

JOINT INTERVIEW With the BIODEV2030 project implemented in 2019, Expertise France is helping to mainstream biodiversity into the development plans of 16 countries. Here, we take a closer look at Senegal and Tunisia.

Director of the Tunisian Observatory for Sustainable Development

National Parks Director, Senegal’s Ministry of the Environment

Senegal and Tunisia possess particularly rich terrestrial biodiversity. What are today’s major issues regarding their protection?

B.T. Senegal is home to nearly 3,600 plant species and 4,200 animal species known today, including 90 that are on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature threatened species red list. The workshop we organized in December 2020, as part of BIODEV2030, showed that farming, fishing, and mining were the most harmful sectors to the country’s biodiversity.

Today, commitments made by the private sector, the government, and nonprofits are cause for optimism. They plan to mainstream biodiversity into economic plans, which is consistent with Senegal’s sector policy paper. Instrumental for this move to action was the revision of our environment code: It now makes it mandatory to conduct impact studies factoring biodiversity into development projects.

S.N. Tunisia harbors about 7,500 known terrestrial and aquatic animal and plant species. The country is also particularly rich in ecosystems. The challenge is to open up discussions with economic sectors and see how they can somehow contribute — through green investments or corporate societal responsibility — to reducing the pressure imposed on biodiversity. Agriculture and the agro-industry — whose activities are intensifying — and the extractive industry are the most detrimental sectors to biodiversity in Tunisia.

Through the BIODEV2030 project, Expertise France contributes to making biodiversity a part of the development of 16 countries.

How will the BIODEV2030 project contribute to protecting biodiversity in your countries?

B.T. Thanks to BIODEV2030, all of society’s stakeholders were brought together and shown how conserving biodiversity can represent an economic and social opportunity. In Senegal, pilot actions were launched in the Thiés region to reconcile biodiversity and development.

S.N. The project helped identify sectors accelerating the decline of biodiversity without directly exploiting natural resources. BIODEV2030 has also helped start discussions with stakeholders based on scientific and concerted assessments, which led them to the conclusion that these sectors contribute to damaging Tunisia’s biodiversity.

It should also be mentioned that the dynamics launched by Tunisian civil society are incredible. Since the Revolution of 2011, nonprofit organizations keep emerging to advocate for the protection of our resources and natural capital. They are successfully deploying projects in the field and maintaining a dialogue with public authorities, which I find very positive.

Interview conducted in June 2022

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Achieving SDG 15

The Life on Land sustainable development goal addresses many challenges, such as protection of endangered species, sustainable forest management, and the fight against desertification. To tackle these challenges, Expertise France is committed to transforming biodiversity governance and the recognition of its contribution to SDGs in the broader sense. It is deploying its action from the local to the international level.

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