The Role of Innovative Local Solutions in Strengthening Iraq’s Green Economy

December 29, 2021

The concept of Green Economy is on the rise in Iraq. The UNDP-Accelerator Lab in Iraq is supporting this move through sensing, exploring, and mapping innovative local solutions to facilitate the shift of Iraq’s economy toward sustainability. Specifically, the UNDP-AccLab is working on initiating positive behavioral change towards the consumption of environmentally friendly products.

The sensing and exploring journey by the UNDP-AccLab in Iraq through Mission 1.5 Game, the Future of Climate in Iraq Exhibition and  Call for Innovation with Iraqi youth has found a shift to green economy and produced valuable insights regarding community priorities within this area. Community priorities were found to be related to pollution and solid waste. Following this, the UNDP-AccLab began a solutions-mapping activity, which highlighted that the number of businesses and projects with sustainable solutions is increasing in Iraq. For example, some Iraqi companies have changed their product packaging to an eco-friendly alternative, while other businesses started selling eco-friendly items, including Ecopotamia, EcoMENA, Green Gold, IPR Eco, and  Bait Alhiraf company.

The UNDP-Acc Lab in Iraq analyzed the focus of the local solutions and identified one local solution that is working on the issue of plastic waste: Eco-Bags by Bait Alhiraf. The company’s local solution is Eco-Bags, which involves the production of reusable bags featuring authentic Iraqi designs, by vulnerable women, to spread Mesopotamian culture to the world. The solution is tackling the issue of solid waste materials, which is one of the main reasons for the clogging of drains and the pollution of Iraqi rivers. Adding to this, litter is a problem with a very negative social and environmental impact and in Iraq, people are yet to acknowledge the effects of plastic waste on the environment.

The UNDP-AccLab in Iraq supported this local solution by providing technical, financial, and creative support. The scale-up of the local solution resulted in designing creative Eco-bags with a mix of traditional and modern motifs that deliver a message to youth, and encourage the public to preserve the environment. The local solution, after launching, led to the promotion of green living among the public. It also led to spreading awareness related to eco-friendly items and changing market dynamics towards a greener economy in Iraq. The UNDP-AccLab in Iraq will continue to sense and explore other behavioral methods that will support the movement to a greener economy in Iraq.