Despite decades of war and conflict that have weakened its management institutions, Iraq is looking to the future and has made chemical and waste management a national priority. Iraq is now Party to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, and is in the process of ratifying the Minamata Convention, signalling its commitment to prioritizing the integrated management of chemicals and waste and protecting human health.
Iraq’s project on chemicals and waste institutional strengthening was selected in the first round for funding from the Special Programme of the UN Environment. This project is a first for the country in this field, and aims to assess Iraq’s waste management policies, structures, and coordination mechanisms to enhance their effectiveness. Iraq’s weakened institutional frameworks have been major barriers in the past to the sound management of chemicals and waste. The project will include concrete objectives such as increasing the number of management regulations, performing a technical review of the gaps in implementation, and raising the number of staff trained in this capacity to sixty.
The three areas that the project will focus on are: 1) the assessment of gaps, weaknesses, and needs in legislative frameworks; 2) strengthening institutional capacity to implement policies; and 3) implementing sustainable structures for policy implementation. The project demonstrates a clear commitment to build strong institutions and protect human health. In addition to Special Programme funding, the project will receive substantial government funding and technical support from UN Environment West Asia Office. The project will likewise focus on intergovernmental coordination, as well as partnerships with national, regional and international organizations. The emphasis on multilateral cooperation will ensure that Iraq’s ability to soundly manage chemicals and waste will continue to grow beyond the project’s duration.
The project convened an inception workshop from 31 July to 3 August in Amman in conjunction with their Minamata Initial Assessment GEF project. The interactive and productive workshop resulted in agreed upon activities, work plan, budget and implementation arrangement.