IUCN is implementing a project in Iraq: “Initial Steps for the Establishment of the National Protected Areas Network” funded by the Global Environment Facility. The objective of this project is to: “Develop and start implementing the plan for the establishment of a national Network of Protected Areas in Iraq”.
The project has three main components:
1) Setting up a structured and functional process for designing, planning and establishing the national system of Protected Areas in Iraq and strengthening the institutional and legislative framework for Protected Areas through capacity building and provision of technical tools to enable enforcement of legal requirements and international best practices, including extensive stakeholder consultations in all stages of the decision making and implementation process.
2) Establishing protected areas in two selected priority sites in Dalmaj and Teeb through provision of essential infrastructures and support to the designated Protected Area Management Authorities, including stakeholder consultations and active involvement of the local communities.
3) Increasing public awareness through development of specific outreach and communication materials, media and tools.
PAN planning process (Component 1) will involve key stakeholder at national and governorate level and will include a wide range capacity building assessment, aimed at promoting integration of PAs into the national and provincial planning framework. The PAN implementation at two pilot sites of Dalmaj and Teeb (Component 2) will create a living lab for addressing the existing social, financial and organizational difficulties and obstacles to establishing effective management structures in Protected Areas. Under the supervision of UNEP-ROWA and with the support of a specialized team of experts from international organizations (UNEP, IUCN, WCMC and others) the national team will bring about a new ambitious model of shared management of PAs according to international guidelines and best practices, with the aim of promoting local ownership, active participation of local communities and enhancement of benefits and trade-offs of multi-purpose management. Through involvement and participation of local communities in the PAN planning and implementation activities since the early stages of execution, the project will promote empowerment of local communities in Protected Areas management. A specific attention will be devoted to vulnerable groups (women, young and unemployed people from local communities) and targeted activities on promoting gender equality and addressing poverty will be carried out in establishing the PA management structure at the two pilot sites.