Conveying the message from the Prime Minister, Dr. Hamid emphasized that sustainable development in the Marshlands depends on the participation of the Marsh people in the revitalization programmes. Dr. Hamid also proposed specific principles for a National Vision on the Marshlands, including transparency, trust, credibility and diversity. All of the speakers called upon the United Nations to take on a strong role in supporting and facilitating initiatives in the Marshlands.
The opening session also featured a special message from the First Lady of Iraq, Mrs. Hero Ibrahim Ahmed who noted that the Marshlands are of high priority for her and the Governments agenda and expressed satisfaction in being able to support the conference, as a first step to recovering the environment and heritage of the Marshlands.
Reflecting on the community perspectives on the future of the Marshlands, Sheikh Wasmeey Fayadh, from Al-Mhaiate village from the Al-Hammar Marshes, stressed that the Marshlands cannot be revitalized without development plans that are based on evidence and in consultation with the local communities.
On the closing day, the participants formulated a “Basrah Declaration of Principles of a National Vision for the Marshlands”, which articulates the basic principles for future development of the Marshlands and will serve as the basis for follow-up with the Government of Iraq and all the key Marshlands stakeholders. The Declaration’s principles call upon integrated water management, preservation of biodiversity and environmental health of the Marshlands, the use of modern technologies and innovative solutions, eradication of poverty and improvement of the standard of living, improved coordination among the key stakeholders, and partnership with the private sector.
In her closing remarks to the conference, Ms. Christine McNab noted that the future of the Marshlands is both a group responsibility and responsibility of individuals. “The future of the Marshlands is not important only for the three provinces where they are located; but for all of Iraq,” she said, emphasizing that “the future of the Marshlands is about you, the Iraqi people; and what you want to do”. Ms. McNab recognized the conference as a significant push forward, one that will move the Marshlands agenda forward for the benefit of the Iraqi people, and reiterated the commitment of the United Nations family to provide the support and assistance to this effort.