Increasing temperatures, declining rainfall, salinity, and more frequent sand and dust storms are some of the challenges faced by Iraq due to climate change. In fact, the country is classified as the fifth most vulnerable country in the world to decreased water and food availability and extreme temperatures, which will negatively impact food and water supplies, social security and health in Iraq.
“There are 7 million Iraqis at risk of not receiving their water needs in the coming few years” Dr. Jassim Al-Falahi, Minister of Environment.
Today, Iraq has made huge strides on its journey towards effective Climate Action. Developing and submitting the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) was a critical milestone, helping Iraq solidify and meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement, including reducing national emissions and adapting to the impacts of climate change. However, the country currently lacks a clear energy transition policy framework that sets the pathway from fossil-based to carbon-neutral energy. As a result, technical, and financial support were needed – and the United Kingdom in to support.
Through a US $5.7 million (GBP 4.25 million) grant, the UK, through the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) is supporting Iraq’s transition to clean energy. A partnership with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the Iraqi Ministry of Environment and the UK brought together key stakeholders from the Government of Iraq (GoI) and Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to help set up a long-term energy policy framework and address key barriers in understanding the financial and key infrastructure needs to boost renewable energy in the country.
“We extend our thanks and gratitude to the Governments of the United Kingdom and Canada for supporting this project, which increases the ambition of climate action in Iraq. We are also grateful for the United Nations Development Programme in Iraq, and the International Renewable Energy Agency for their Support” says Dr. Jassim Al-Falahi, Minister of Environment and Special Envoy for Climate Change in Iraq.
Alongside the UK, the Government of Canada has committed around US$1.18 million to support training initiatives that, over the next two years, will provide comprehensive support to relevant Iraqi ministries on water resources management in the context of climate change – which is rapidly becoming the main driver behind Iraq’s reduced rainfalls – in addition to strengthening the cooperation between riparian countries of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
“In the last decade, Iraq has faced a clear decrease in the amount of water received from riparian countries, which exceeds 70% of its water says Eng. Jamal Mohsin, Advisor of the Iraqi Ministry of Water Resources.
“I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to UNDP and other partners for developing the capacities of Iraqi ministries, including the Ministry of Water Resources, the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on water diplomacy and water resources management.” adds Mohsin.
Forecasting drought and other hazards
As a result of weak weather monitoring infrastructure, limited knowledge and skillsets, and a lack of access to the latest early warning technologies and networks, Iraq has limited drought forecasting and early warning capacities. Under the agreement with the UK, a critical and effective weather monitoring, drought forecasting, and early warning system will be developed to help the country better prepare for natural disasters and hazards.
Iraq has four main institutions responsible for maintaining weather and hazard monitoring networks and drought forecasting: the Iraqi Meteorological Service, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Water Resources, and the Ministry of Environment. The UK is supporting these entities by building their knowledge and skillset, using international expertise and sharing best practices from regional and global experiences.
“Promoting a green economy is critical to overcoming many of Iraq’s sustainable development challenges. We are grateful to our partners the UK and Canada for their generosity and commitment to combating climate change, and to the Government of Iraq, which has put climate action on the top of its agenda. I look forward to growing this important partnership,” says UNDP Iraq’s Resident Representative, Zena Ali Ahmad.
The Catalytic Climate Action Project in Iraq, supported by the UK and Canada, is a 2-year project and part of UNDP’s Environment, Energy and Climate Change programme (EECC), which provides capacity building and technical assistance to support Iraq’s environmental rehabilitation and development efforts that address the root causes, risks and mitigation measures associated with environmental degradation, climate change, and disaster shocks.