26 January 2014: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) announced that Iraq has signed a 5-year strategic cooperation agreement with UNEP to boost recovery and support national development goals. The agreement will focus on: environmental legislation and regulations; biodiversity conservation; green economy; cleaner production; resource efficiency; combating dust storms; and climate change reporting, mitigation and adaptation.
During his first-ever visit to Iraq for the signing of the agreement, Achim Steiner, Executive Director, UNEP, recognized that achieving sustainable development after decades of wars, sanctions and environmental degradation is an incredible undertaking. He added that Iraq's National Development Plan places the green economy at the heart of its development and economic policies. Sargon Lazar Slewa, Minister of Environment, Iraq, highlighted his country's commitment to restoring the environment.
According to the State of the Environment Report for Iraq, 39 percent of Iraq's land has suffered from desertification, while the quality and quantity of the country's water has been impacted by upstream damming, pollution, climate change and inefficient use. Cooperation between Iraq and UNEP began in 2003, and since then, UNEP has worked on rapid post-conflict environmental assessments, environmental clean-up of highly contaminated sites and the restoration of the Mesopotamian Marshlands. [UNEP News] [Publication: State of the Environment Report for Iraq]