The National Development Plan for 2010-2014 in Iraq has identified environmental threats and sets the promotion of sustainable development and environmental management as a priority.

 The Iraqi marshlands lie within the aforementioned geographic zone of the alluvial plain. They are situated for the main part in southern Iraq i.e. starting north from Baghdad and extending south, down to the Persian Gulf following the lower Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

The Iraqi Ministry of Oil awarded Shell Iraq Petroleum Development (SIPD) and Petronas Carigali a contract for technical assistance in developing the Majnoon field in Basra in 2009. The Northern part of the Majnoon concession area lies within the Hawizeh marsh, a wetland of international importance designated under the Ramsar Convention in 2007. Oil development activities within the Hawizeh marsh could impact the ecosystem of the marshes. At the same time, the Hawizeh marsh has been put on the Montreux Record in 2010 as its ecological status is threatened by low water levels and the lack of capacity to manage the wetlands.

Consequently, this Shell-Iraq-IUCN Project shall focus on developing a set of actions that will produce a constructive and effective process for institutional strengthening which will include capacity building, review and enhancement of regulations, policy reforms, and coordination and facilitation between the different concerned actors.

The initiative aims at helping the Iraqi people and their Government achieve their goal of “Ensuring sustained social and economic development whilst maintaining perpetual management of the Marches through wise investment in different opportunities especially in rebuilding environmentally acceptable country energy infrastructures while enhancing the sustained nature management for the best of the livelihoods of the Iraqi Marchlands communities and country citizens at large”.

The main actions foreseen by the project are designed under three major components:

• Institutional Strengthening (policy, regulations, rules and standards as well as organizational structures development and coordination mechanisms establishment)
• Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Capacity Building.
• Environmental Management Outreach.