MEGARA Challenges 2022: Issues and challenges of the circular economy in Tunisia, the MENA Region and Africa

The MEGARA Association of Smart Sustainable Cities, in collaboration with its partners, launched its third edition of MEGARA Challenges under the theme “The circular economy towards a new economic model”, on November 17 and 18, 2022 at El Mouradi Hotel – Gammarth.


This edition aimed at getting acquainted with the basis and principles of the circular economy and focusing on the importance of taking it into account in public policies and the opportunity it offers to boost the territories.

The event was officially launched by Mr. Larbi Ben Tili, President of the MEGARA Association for Sustainable Smart Cities, in the presence of the various partners of the project, namely the National Waste Management Agency (ANGed), the municipality of Sidi Bou Said, the municipality of Carthage, the Pact project, with the support of the project “Climate Protection through Circular Economy in Tunisia (ProtecT)” represented by Mr. Stephan Voss, the Heinrich Böll Stiftung (HBS) represented by Ms. Heike Löschmann, the Giz- Libya represented by Ms. Emily Cullom and the UNDP represented by Mr. Nouri Alkishriwi.

Led by international experts, partner companies and institutions on the challenges related to the environment and circular economy sectors, the event featured the best awareness measures and technological innovations in products and services in environmental protection and sustainable development.


In his statement, Mr. Larbi Ben Tili shared with participants the vision of the association to improve the preservation of resources and participate in a green economy more environmentally friendly. He said that the association has worked so far on several projects on the environment and smart cities for the benefit of municipalities. Thus, the project of smart containers had won two international awards in South Korea and London among 129 participating cities worldwide. The association’s chairman also said that a funding of 278 thousand euros was granted by the European Union, for the Municipality of La Marsa, for the MED-InA project, which aims to make La Marsa a model of Mediterranean city zero waste in accordance with the circular economy principles.

He also highlighted the importance of youth involvement as responsible and efficient actors in the implementation of a circular economic model.

“given the current context of increasing scarcity of natural resources, climate change and social inequalities, the circular economy is considered a priority today”, he said. “The circular economy has a key role to play in the green transition process. The circular economy plays a key role in this process, as it promotes sharing, repair, reuse, life extension and recycling of resources.”

The event gathered several government representatives, funders, NGOs. National and international experts and consultants from Arab, African and European countries (Algeria, Libya, Togo, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Senegal, France, Belgium, Germany, Portugal, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Albania, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Oman, Jordan …), have also participated in these discussions in order to exchange their country’s experiences regarding this matter.

On the first day of the event, the results of the study ” Sorting Waste: Challenges and Shortfalls ” by Heinrich Böll Stiftung (HBS) were discussed. These results led to the measurement of the budget deficit due to the non-recovery of plastic waste caused by the absence of a nationwide waste management system based on waste sorting. The estimated budget deficit amounted to 350 million dinars per year, or 30% of the national GDP. The most significant element of it is the additional cost of importing raw materials caused by the lack of a reliable mechanism for selective waste sorting and which represents 2% of the annual national trade deficit.

Addressing the issue of waste management, Mr. Larbi Ben Tili, stated that “the inclusion of aspects related to the circular economy and climate change in the waste management field is fundamental. If we give a second life to objects, it helps to reduce the amount of waste, especially electrical and electronic waste. So, I am addressing everyone here – we all need to be aware of the environmental issues related to waste and overconsumption. We need to create social ties by promoting cooperation and solidarity.”

As for the role of the private sector in the implementation of the circular economy, Mr. Larbi Ben Tili, stressed that “companies need to evolve by integrating the circular economy in the core of their strategy”. He added that to succeed in their transition to the circular economy, companies need to ” implement ambitious programs that combine eco-design, use of refurbished materials, repair, recycling etc..

On his side, Mr. Badreddine Lasmar, CEO of ANGed mentioned the need to have a strategy and legal framework to implement the circular economy principles. He recalled that with the support of the project “Climate Protection through Circular Economy in Tunisia (ProtecT)” executed by GIZ-Tunisia and funded by the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Ministry of Environment is in the process of launching the National Strategy for Low-Carbon Circular Economy.

Based on the concept of sharing and exchanging experiences on major themes related to sustainable development and the environment, the MEGARA Challenges event also hosted an international competition among municipal projects, succeeded by a prize ceremony for the winners of the competition. The participants had only one goal: to win the best smart municipal project trophy.

This third edition of the MEGARA Challenges was concluded by drafting a roadmap related to the legal and institutional requirements to promote the development of the circular economy, taking into account the results of various workshops and meetings held during the event.

Besides the event, a fair was organized presenting a variety of products and services related to environmental protection and sustainable development.

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