IUCN welcomes Republic of Iraq as new State Member

06 February 2012 | News story

The Government of the Republic of Iraq has officially announced its decision to join IUCN by endorsing the IUCN Statutes. The Ministry of Environment has been designated by the Government of the Republic of Iraq as its liaison with the IUCN Secretariat.

IUCN extends its warmest welcome to the Republic of Iraq, a country that slopes from mountains and descends to marshes at sea level. It is ecologically diverse, with habitats that vary from dry mountains and forests in the northeastern Kurdish area, to alluvial Mesopotamian marshes of southern Iraq. Desert areas, which cover about 60% of the geography of Iraq, vary considerably between different parts of the country in vegetation, rainfall, and elevation.

“The Iraqi Ministry of Environment joining IUCN as a Member will be instrumental in promoting long-lasting cooperation between Iraq and IUCN,” says Saeed Shami, Regional Director a.i. for IUCN’s Regional Office for West Asia. “We consider this step vital in strengthening the technical support IUCN provides to the Iraqi Ministry of Environment in conserving the unique biodiversity of a country which also has a distinguished and ancient cultural heritage. We are confident that the benefits of membership will extend beyond Iraq’s borders and permeate other parts of the region.”

In July 2009, Iraq joined the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and on the 26 October 2009 became the 192nd Party to the Convention. Iraq has furthermore taken several steps to address environmental issues in the country. Since 2004, the Iraqi Ministry of Environment (MOE) has been involved in a number of initiatives to begin research in the recently restored Mesopotamian Marshlands of southern Iraq.

“We in the Ministry of Environment and other organizations in the Republic of Iraq, seek to implement programmes to protect and rehabilitate nature, increase its sustainability and address the threats facing Iraq’s environment” said Sargon Selwa, Minister of Environment for the Republic of Iraq.

In addition to the State Member, the Republic of Iraq is home to one IUCN non-governmental organization (NGO) Member, the Organization of Protection & Improving the Iraq Environment (OPIIE). This organization was established in August 2003 by concerned Baghdad citizens who wanted to clean up the streets and plant trees in the capital. The NGO has successfully worked to create a greater awareness and to promote cooperation in the environmental field, involving local participation in the protection and conservation of the environment.

Contact person: Ola Mallah, Regional Focal Point for West Asia, IUCN Regional Office for West Asia, Tel: +962 (6) 554-6912/3/4 (ext. 103), Email: ola.mallah@iucn.org