Support for environmental management of the Iraqi Marshlands

  • UNEP
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This publication is a completion report for the “Support for Environmental Management of the Iraqi Marshlands” project implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) from August 2004 to December 2009. The initiative was one of the largest post- conflict environmental projects conducted within the framework of the United Nations Development Group (UNDG) Iraq Trust Fund, as well as one of most extensive initiatives by UNEP to implement Environmentally Sound Technologies (ESTs) on the ground. This report has been prepared in response to numerous requests for comprehensive information regarding the project and for a document that chronicles the project development and results. The specific objectives of this report include the following: 1. To provide detailed descriptions of activities undertaken by UNEP within this project 2. To assess the impacts and benefits of UNEP’s interventions through this project 3. To document the lessons learned by UNEP in implementing activities in a complex post-conflict environment The report also makes recommendations on future initiatives to improve environmental conditions for this area as well as for the country.Despite the project’s success and transition towards longer-term initiatives, emerging environmental threats could undermine improvements in environmental management in the area as well as the entire nation. The Marshlands are experiencing negative impacts from a two-year drought, which has significantly reduced the water and vegetative cover of the wetlands as well as the availability of water in Iraq. The drought and desertification, which have been attributed to climate change and a reduction in water availability, are having negative impacts on the economic development and quality of life of Iraqi citizens. The Common Country Assessment for the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (CCA UNDAF) conducted in 2009 stated that Iraq’s environmental problems are defined by “declining natural resources, exacerbated by their unsustainable use” (United Nations, 2009). The CCA identified additional environmental challenges, including elevated soil salinity, increasing carbon emissions, loss of biodiversity, deteriorating rural water supply for agriculture and human consumption, as well as limited waste management. It also highlighted the need to diversify Iraq’s economy and to use the wealth arising from resources towards sustainable development. Reflecting the needs to provide

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