Thursday, 09 June 2011 03:00

UN in Iraq partners with University of Basrah to support a National Vision for the Iraqi Marshlands

Basrah, 9 June 2011 – Under the title, “Rethinking Strategies for a Sustainable Future”, the national conference on the Marshlands was held in Basrah on 6 – 7 June, in order to build a national consensus on the basic principles that will guide future projects and activities in the Marshlands and raise awareness of the prospects for rehabilitating the area.

The components of a new national vision for the Marshlands were developed at a high-level gathering of representatives of Government of Iraq, civil society, academia, major oil companies and the United Nations in Iraq.  The conference was co-organized by the University of Basrah, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, on behalf of the United Nations Country Team.  


The event was attended by His Excellency Dr. Hussain Shehristani, the Deputy Prime Minister, His Excellency Mr. Hassan Al-Sarai, the Minister of State for the Marshlands, Dr. Hamid Ahmed, the Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister, and the First Lady of Iraq, Mrs. Hero Ibrahim Ahmed (in absentia).  The conference was co-chaired by Dr. Saleh E. Najim, the Chancellor of the University of Basrah, and Ms. Christine McNab, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq and the United Nations Resident Coordinator.


Dr. Saleh opened the meeting noting that “the organization of this conference will enable Iraq to reach a more prosperous future in the Marshlands, setting the principles for the future development in the area”. 


In his address to the meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Shehristani emphasized that the Marshlands are of historical importance for all humanity.  He called upon the conference to produce a technical plan for the Marshlands and expressed the commitment of the Government of Iraq to work with the local communities, international organizations, and the private sector partners to carry that plan forward.  


The Minister of State for the Marshlands Al-Sarai spoke on the need to encourage further investment in the Marshlands, especially through tourism, and continue to strengthen coordination between the different government institutions.  The Ministry is working toward establishing a clear definition and boundaries for the Marshlands, which will support future strategic planning.  


Conveying the message from the Prime Minister, Dr. Hamid emphasized that sustainable development in the Marshlands depends on the participation of the Marsh people in the revitalization programmes.  Dr. Hamid also proposed specific principles for a National Vision on the Marshlands, including transparency, trust, credibility and diversity.  All of the speakers called upon the United Nations to take on a strong role in supporting and facilitating initiatives in the Marshlands.


The opening session also featured a special message from the First Lady of Iraq, Mrs. Hero Ibrahim Ahmed who noted that the Marshlands are of high priority for her and the Governments agenda and expressed satisfaction in being able to support the conference, as a first step to recovering the environment and heritage of the Marshlands. 


Reflecting on the community perspectives on the future of the Marshlands, Sheikh Wasmeey Fayadh, from Al-Mhaiate village from the Al-Hammar Marshes, stressed that the Marshlands cannot be revitalized without development plans that are based on evidence and in consultation with the local communities. 


On the closing day, the participants formulated a “Basrah Declaration of Principles of a National Vision for the Marshlands”, which articulates the basic principles for future development of the Marshlands and will serve as the basis for follow-up with the Government of Iraq and all the key Marshlands stakeholders.  The Declaration’s principles call upon integrated water management, preservation of biodiversity and environmental health of the Marshlands, the use of modern technologies and innovative solutions, eradication of poverty and improvement of the standard of living, improved coordination among the key stakeholders, and partnership with the private sector. 


In her closing remarks to the conference, Ms. Christine McNab noted that the future of the Marshlands is both a group responsibility and responsibility of individuals.  “The future of the Marshlands is not important only for the three provinces where they are located; but for all of Iraq,” she said, emphasizing that “the future of the Marshlands is about you, the Iraqi people; and what you want to do”.  Ms. McNab recognized the conference as a significant push forward, one that will move the Marshlands agenda forward for the benefit of the Iraqi people, and reiterated the commitment of the United Nations family to provide the support and assistance to this effort.


For more information please contact:

Marija Ignjatovic, United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , +962 777 619 733

Nadia Fawzi, University of Basrah, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , +964 771 318 7183; +964 780 025 3516

For interview requests:

Randa Jamal, Public Information Officer / Media Relations, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ,  +964 7901 940 146

Last modified on Thursday, 09 June 2011 03:00

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