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Evaluation Meeting for Support for Environmental Management of the Iraqi Marshlands Project (Phase III) - Summary Report (page6)

3 September 2008
Kyoto International Community House, Kyoto, Japan

Session Summary

Session 5: Discussion - Where to go from here?

This session focused on how to build on this project to continue efforts to mainstream environmental issues in sustainable development agenda for Iraq as a whole. Iraq-led initiatives for accession to multilateral environmental agreements, initiatives led by the UNEP Regional office of West Asia, UNEP-UNESCO cooperation for longer-term management through the world heritage inscription process, and a proposal for strengthening environmental management of water resources in Kurdistan region were presented and discussed.

Speakers to this session were as follows:

  • Mr. Sarmad Faik Mansour, Ministry of Environment, Iraq
  • Dr. Habib El-Habr, Director and Regional Representative, UNEP Regional Office for West Asia
  • Dr. Chizuru Aoki, UNEP DTIE IETC, and Mr. Ryuichi Fukuhara, Programme Officer, UNESCO Iraq
  • Dr. Sivapragasam Kugaprasatham, UNEP DTIE IETC

Mr. Mansour presented Iraq’s initiatives for accession to multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). After a long isolation from the international community, Iraq is now on track to access several MEAs, and has already ratified Vienna Convention and Montreal Protocol, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol, and Convention on Biological Diversity. The process has not been easy due to lack of experience, conflicts among various Ministries, and lost data and information as a result of looting in 2003. UNEP has been working closely with Iraqi Ministries to facilitate Iraq’s accession to MEAs, primarily through UNEP Regional Office for West Asia. This support has been beneficial and much appreciated, and needs to continue. Mr. Mansour also summarized the Ministry’s proposal for UNEP to act as an intermediary between Iraq and Iran to discuss issues associated with shared waters.

Dr. El-Habr presented the UNEP Regional office of West Asia (ROWA)’s activities with Iraq. Among many environmental protection initiatives, ROWA has worked several years with the Government of Iraq to position the country to accede to MEAs. For example, several activities for the Vienna Convention and Montreal Protocol, including the establishment of the National Ozone Unit, capacity building, and Country Programme and National Phase-Out Plan, are currently being undertaken. Dr. El-Habr further said that ROWA will continue to provide technical support where necessary and to develop relevant project proposals together with the Iraqi side for submission to donors. ROWA has provided support to the Marshlands project in various capacities, and has pledged to continue the intra-UNEP cooperation. ROWA also stands ready to provide help in facilitating transboundary water discussion in the region.

Dr. Aoki and Mr. Fukuhara gave an overview on UNEP-UNESCO project proposal on establishing a longer-term management system through World Heritage inscription process. This project is considered as one of the two official priority projects by the Iraqi Ministry of Environment. The goal of the project is to ensure sustainable development of the Iraqi Marshlands, reflecting the outstanding values of its historic, cultural, environmental, hydrological, and socio-economic characteristics of the area, in particular utilizing the World Heritage inscription process as a tool to develop and implement a management framework. The main project activities were presented.

Dr. Kugaprasatham presented a proposal for strengthening environmental management of water resources in Kurdistan region. This project is also considered as an official priority by the Iraqi Ministry of Environment, and has been developed in consultation with the Ministry as well as the Kurdistan Regional Government. The region is an important upper watershed in northern Iraq and it is facing increasing water quality and quantity stress caused by economic development activities and agricultural production. The proposed project duration is 3 years, and the budget is 6.4 million US dollars.