15 Oct 2018 Story Chemicals & waste

Iraq raises the bar to strengthen its capacity to manage chemicals and waste

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 the institutional strengthening of chemicals and waste management was selected in the first round for funding from the UN Environment’s Special Programme. This project is a first for the country in the field of chemicals and waste, 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 for the sound management of chemicals and waste. The project’s objectives include increasing the number of management regulations, performing a technical review of the gaps in the implementation of policies, strategies, and national programmes for the sound management of chemicals and waste, and increasing the number of staff trained in this capacity.

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 building strong institutions to protect the environment and human health. In addition to Special Programme funding, the project will receive substantial government financing and technical support from UN Environment’s 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.

October 2018 project update

In August 2017, Iraq held its Special Programme inception workshop with partners from the Ministry of Health and Environment, UN Environment’s West Asia Office and international experts, to address the country’s needs in the field of the sound management of chemicals and waste. During the workshop, research was undertaken into the implementation of two of the project’s proposed activities, specifically, the Global Harmonised System (GHS) and e-licensing. In addition, a gaps and needs analysis was conducted to assess current capacity and technological, institutional, financial and legislative frameworks. Furthermore, it was agreed that laws and regulations to support the project needed to be drafted, and that a chemicals management committee should be established in 2018.