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Component 1: Support for Strategy Development and Coordination

The development of a marshland management plan is a long-term process that encompasses various disciplines and perspectives, including transboundary resource allocation, agriculture, industry, food production, land use, socio-cultural heritage, displaced persons, as well as environmental issues. Formulating such plan requires individual strategy formulation and coordination within the above areas, consensus building, substantial resources, political will, and institutional capacity.

To complement such planning process, there is a current need to strengthen the coordination mechanism, and to provide environmentally sound input and objective analyses. There is also a priority to find and apply suitable options for immediate environmental relief, and to build the necessary capacity in Iraq for longer-term environmental management. The project has aimed to address such need and priorities through various activities within this component, including the following:

PIU establishment

The Project Implementation Unit (PIU) has been established within the Ministry of Environment in November 2004, and is staffed by the National Coordinator in Iraq. Coordination and support to the project activities within Iraq has been provided by the PIU, including support for the subsequent phases of the project.

Roundtable Meeting (21-22 September 2004, Amman, Jordan)

There is a need for coordinated response for sound marshland management between the various UN and bilateral organizations supporting initiatives in the region. To address this need, UNEP organized a Roundtable on Marshland Initiatives in Amman, Jordan in September 2004. The Roundtable provided an opportunity to discuss the current status of various initiatives, both environmental and otherwise, being organized in/for the Iraqi Marshlands, and supported the dialogue for management plan development. The Iraqi delegation included the Minister of Environment as well as participants from the Ministry of Water Resources and Marsh Arab Forum. The delegation from Japan was led by the Minister of Environment, and included other senior officials. Representatives from other donor countries and various UN agencies also participated. UNEP has also participated in additional donor coordination meetings.

Support for environmental integration

UNEP has been providing support to assessments that aim to ensure that environmental dimensions are adequately reflected into the on-going management strategy formulation in Iraq. Such support is intended to provide objective analyses that are based on sound environmental science and policy perspectives.

Donor Coordination Meeting on Iraqi Marshland Management (6-8 November 2005, Paris, France)

Various bilaterally supported initiatives are ongoing for marshland restoration and management. Coordination of such international activities is important to find and promote synergies and avoid duplication, and has started with a meeting in early 2004 sponsored by the Italian government. UNEP has supported such coordination and organized a Donor Coordination Meeting on Iraqi Marshland Management on 6-8 November 2005 in Paris. The meeting evaluated the progress of activities taken thus far within the Iraqi Marshlands, identified priority areas that merit further support and potential cooperation, reviewed the process of the coordination mechanism, and formulated recommendations.

Post-phase needs assessment and strategies

Based on project results and observation, the project has been conducting assessments on policy and institutional strengthening for marshland management. The Institutional Capacity Assessment for the Ministry of Environment was completed by UNEP Post-conflict Assessment Branch within another project, and recommendations have been presented in 2005 and 2006. Additional insight from this project is being compiled into a final report, to be published by September 2007.

The UNEP project has been instrumental in providing immediate relief to the residents of the marshlands, and has also been generating results that can facilitate and contribute to the master plan development and implementation. Through regular dialogue and coordination, UNEP has sought not to jeopardize the intended objectives and outcomes of a longer-term management plan. UNEP also ensured that project activities, particularly the pilot implementation, were in locations and with operating conditions that were not impacted by future re-flooding that may be stipulated in the longer-term marshland management plan.

The pilot projects have been carried out in full coordination with the national and local authorities, so that the Iraqi institutions can utilize the findings and the resultant strategy for wider implementation of suitable options for water and sanitation provision and marshland management. The project has also documented and compiled extensive data as hand-over dossiers, including a listing of priority areas and their conditions, data on specific applications, and designs and maintenance information. The project has also made recommendations for policies and strategies to support longer-term applications.