Tunisia: Developing an Adaptation Plan for Djerba


Developing a Strategic Adaptation Plan for Djerba Island


At the territorial level of Djerba island a planning approach for developing a climate change adaptation (CCA) plan was initiated. The planning approach aims to produce a CCA strategy plan and respective operational plans.

Scope and starting point

The initiative started with a reflection on the vulnerability of Djerba island to climate change (CC) and the subsequent development issues, at the initiative of the Association for the Conservation of Djerba island (ASSIDJ) within the framework of a workshop organised by GIZ in 2009. The changing context, characterised by the increasing degradation in the island environment and by difficulties in local governance, currently illustrates even more acutely the need to take CC into consideration. The resulting strategy plan should be reflected in regional development planning.

How it works

The process is summarised in the following figure:

Outline of the territorial strategic planning of the CCA approach

The first planning stage (1) involved the pre-identification of exposure units (EU) and took place within the context of a preliminary diagnosis ahead of the planning stage. In filtering the EU, various sources were used:

  • Presentation and discussion of the necessary data (scientific knowledge, projections and impacts of CC on Djerba island, issue of land use policy on the island) for ‘sorting’ the local systems (eco-systems, agro-systems, socioeconomic systems) that are most vulnerable to CC.
  • Revising the outcomes of the consultation process on the vulnerability of Djerba Island (exchange of reflections carried out in 2009 within the framework of a workshop organised by the ASSIDJE and the municipality of Houmet Souk in collaboration with GIZ) and updating their data. This enabled the identification of five sensitive systems: human settlements, water sector, agro systems, tourism, coastal spaces and fishing resources.

A pre-analysis of the biophysical and socioeconomic effects of the CC was carried out for the EU and for each of the five systems. The tool was simplified and attention directed towards key aspects of territorial planning, i.e. location and actors. The assessment of the risk generated by these effects, and the relevance of considering them in planning, as well as the identification of adaptation alternatives will be carried out at a later stage (need for additional data and presence of other key actors such as the Regional Agency for Agricultural Development).

Exposure units

CC impact

Most impacted areas/zones


Tourist equipment / infrastructure (namely hotels / restaurants)

Degradation of the building to the point of destruction Flooding of the building

Aghir; Sidi Mahrez; Sidi Garous; Lella Hadhria (see APAL studies and others)

  • Agence de Protection et d’Aménagement du Littoral APAL and Ministry of Equipment
  • The regional disaster prevention committee, L’hôtelier
  • Fédération Tunisienne de l’Hôtellerie (FTH)
  • FRAV

Water system

Route modification and flooding

Decrease in the function/capacity of infiltration recharge

The coast and the lower parts of the island

  • Municipality
  • Ministry of Interior
  • Ministry of Environment
  • Commissariat Régional au Développement Agricole (CDRA)
  • Direction de l’Habitat et de l’Urbanisme (DHU)

Table: Preliminary analysis (abstract) for three EU of ‘human supplements’ and ‘water sector’ systems

The following stages (2a and 2b in the figure) are designed and implemented concurrently with consultations:

  • For the vulnerability diagnosis of the various and most sensitive EUs
  • For the development of a model of territorial governance
  • By regularly involving local development actors.

The complexities of environmental and socioeconomic challenges as well as the varying data availability make a deeper reflection of the EU (regrouping EU, focus on a part of EU) necessary in order to conclude the vulnerability analyses. This is essential for defining priorities of a more or less detailed study and to choose the most appropriate analysis method for each case.

For the development of the governance model, a diagnosis is carried out with the actors, focusing on environmental topics and CCA. The design of the governance mechanism is carried out within the framework of consultations and in interaction with the vulnerability studies.

Stages 3 and 4 have not yet been developed; they will be determined in cooperation with the actors involved in the future governance model.

Specifics of application

  • Stakeholders and institutional set-up

The approach is developed by involving local development actors: municipalities, representatives of key sectors, (tourism, agriculture, culture, land use management, environment). The process is facilitated by the ASSIDJ. The first stage has been implemented within the framework of a workshop bringing together the main actors involved, and facilitated by experts from the CCC/GIZ project, who participated in launching the 2009 reflection. This multi-actor approach will be maintained throughout the process.

  • Input

The most important input in ground data requires up-to-date and reliable data over a sufficient period, and for a variety of sensitive sectors (water, tourism, coastline, heritage, etc.). This becomes complex when vulnerability at the regional level is at issue, as this involves fragmented, dispersed and more or less accessible data, resulting from the governance difficulties. The duration is difficult to estimate, as the process is still on-going but at least one year would be required.

  • Output

At this stage, the products that are leveraged are limited to a preliminary identification of the main EU (or systems that should be targeted for defining the EUs). The final expected product would be a territorial development plan for the island that would integrate CCA complementing the regional development plan of the Governorate of Médenine.

  • Capacities required and ease of use

On the basis of the first steps in developing the approach, it appears that its application requires (in addition to data):

– The mobilisation of multidisciplinary expertise for analysing vulnerability, organising and facilitating a consultation mechanism for governance.

– The commitment of the actors concerned, coupled with the will and capacity to work cooperatively and interactively.

– As the approach covers both ‘technical’ and ‘strategic / operational’ aspects, the partners should have sufficient capability in planning.

– Furthermore, in order to foster the implementation of a strategy plan, links have to be forged between regional planning activities (decentralisation) and the sectoral planning of the various actors.

– As the adaptation is physically possible in technical terms, the major challenge would be governance, taking into account the complexity of the institutional framework that involves various ministries, local communities, offices and agencies, retailers, the private sector and civil society.

Conclusions for future applications

  • Results and added value

Djerba occupies a strategic position, particularly in the tourist sector in Tunisia. The first implemented steps mobilised local development actors around the CCA issue, and a lead to consensus around the systems that are exposed to CC and which should be taken into consideration. The expected outcomes should have a significant added value when offering an integrated action framework (planning and governance mechanism) for the sustainable development of Djerba and should face the various economic and environmental challenges encountered by this island.

  • Cost-benefit ratio

An estimate is not yet possible, as the approach is still in its preliminary development phase. Nevertheless, the complexity of the vulnerability analysis will entail significant costs in view of the diversity of the territory.

  • Potential for replication

At this early stage, it can be assumed that the main constraint in replicating such an approach would be the availability of vulnerability studies of the ecosystems, agrosystems, etc., that represent the territory in question. It would be appropriate to implement this approach at regional level in areas for which such studies already exist. The other condition is the confirmation of a guidance towards a national development decentralised planning (see the strategy of improving governance and local development in Tunisia MDRP- November 2012). In Tunisia, efforts are being directed to this end, but lack integration and coordination.

Reference persons and further information


  1. Proceedings of ‘the Island of Djerba sustainable development plan’ workshop- September 2012 (CCC/GIZ project, Ministry of environment)
  2. Climate proofing for development- how to adapt to CC. – Reducing risks. GIZ 2011
  3. Environmental and socioeconomic vulnerability study of the Tunisian coastline in response to an accelerated rise in the seawater level due to Climate Change, and identification of an adaptation strategy – Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development, UNDP/GEF – March 2008

Reference persons