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Initial Meeting: Extended Support for UNEP's project "Support for the Environmental Management of the Iraqi Marshlands" - Summary




7 April 2006
Paris, France

Summary

UNEP DTIE IETC held a kick-off and coordination meeting on 7 April 2006 to introduce the objectives of the second phase of UNEP's ongoing project "Support for the Environmental Management of the Iraqi Marshlands", funded by the Government of Italy. The meeting also served as a platform for discussing the data gaps that need to be addressed to support environmental management of the Iraqi Marshlands.

Objectives:

The meeting objectives included the following:

  • To bring together all of the relevant partners involved in the project.
  • To ensure that all stakeholders understand and are in agreement with the overall goals of the project and the specific activities needed to achieve those goals.
  • To discuss the data gaps and needs that, once filled, would improve the environmental management of the Iraqi Marshlands.
  • To address how the Marshlands Information Network (MIN) and Iraqi Marshlands Information System (IMOS) can succeed in filling some of the data gaps and needs.

Background:

The Government of Italy has committed funds to carryout second phase support for UNEP’s Iraqi Marshlands project. This extension, termed phase II-A, enables UNEP to support data collection and analysis of water, environment, and socio-economic parameters, to share data on a uniform platform, and to provide hardware, software, and necessary training to utilize the information sharing platform.

After an overview presentation of the project by UNEP, high-level officials from the Iraqi Ministries of Environment, Water Resources, and Municipalities and Public Works gave presentations on the data gaps that need to be addressed for proper management of the Iraqi Marshlands. During the morning session, an Italian representative also presented the draft Master Plan for the management of the Iraqi Marshlands that the Italian government has been developing in conjunction with the Iraqi government.

The afternoon session was devoted to discussion. The recommendations that were agreed upon are outlined below.

Recommendations and Action Items:

  • The coordination of donors inside Iraq is very important. Such coordination should be done not only on the policy level but also at the technical level. UNEP has been charged with the specific task of donor coordination for the Iraqi Marshlands, and will therefore organize another donor coordination meeting some time in the next six months.
  • The exchange of information on all data systems and collection efforts needs to be organized. UNEP-DTIE-IETC will contact all partners and will evaluate, assess, and report on the different systems being used.
  • A data platform should be built using the appropriate software for the type of data needed. NOTE: the idea is not to build a new database but to figure out how to exploit and utilize available data so that it can be used effectively.
  • Iraqi nationals should run the data systems. It is therefore necessary to employ Iraqi nationals to create and maintain the data platform. As a first step, the capacity needs to collect, enter, and manage data need to be identified at the various ministries. After the needs have been identified, extensive training of Iraqi nationals on data and entry management must take place.
  • Information on solid waste management within the Marshlands is a major data gap. UNEP in cooperation with the Ministry of Municipalities and Public Works will begin collecting and entering initial data for the three southern governorates - Basrah, Missan, and Thi-Qar.
  • Other crucial data needs are tied to the zoning of the Marshlands area. In order to help with the relocation of communities from areas that may be re-flooded, it is important to have basic ecosystem data as well as data on living condition standards.
  • Discussions on the data platform analysis and progress of the project are envisaged over the next several months with the possibility of holding discussions in conjunction with the next donor coordination meeting (date and time to be decided).