Under the title, “Rethinking Strategies for a Sustainable Future”, the national conference on the Marshlands was held in Basrah on 6 – 7 June, in order to build a national consensus on the basic principles that will guide future projects and activities in the Marshlands and raise awareness of the prospects for rehabilitating the area. The components of a new national vision for the Marshlands were developed at a high-level gathering of representatives of Government of Iraq, civil society, academia, major oil companies and the United Nations in Iraq. The conference was co-organized by the University of Basrah, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, on behalf of the United Nations Country Team.
The event was attended by His Excellency Dr. Hussain Shahristani, the Deputy Prime Minister, His Excellency Mr. Hassan Al-Sarai, the Minister of State for the Marshlands, Dr. Hamid Ahmed, the Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister, and the First Lady of Iraq, Mrs. Hero Ibrahim Ahmed (in absentia). The conference was co-chaired by Dr. Saleh E. Najim, the Chancellor of the University of Basrah, and Ms. Christine McNab, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq and the United Nations Resident Coordinator.
Dr. Saleh opened the meeting noting that “the organization of this conference will enable Iraq to reach a more prosperous future in the Marshlands, setting the principles for the future development in the area”.
In his address to the meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Shehristani emphasized that the Marshlands are of historical importance for all humanity. He called upon the conference to produce a technical plan for the Marshlands and expressed the commitment of the Government of Iraq to work with the local communities, international organizations, and the private sector partners to carry that plan forward.
The Minister of State for the Marshlands Al-Sarai spoke on the need to encourage further investment in the Marshlands, especially through tourism, and continue to strengthen coordination between the different government institutions. The Ministry is working toward establishing a clear definition and boundaries for the Marshlands, which will support future strategic planning.