From rising temperatures and intense droughts to declining rainfall, desertification and salinization, Iraq faces many challenges as a result of climate change, making the country’s presence at COP26 most critical.

To prepare the Iraqi delegation for the conference, UNDP held a series of workshops for 40 representatives from several government ministries in Iraq including Environment, Agriculture, Oil, Industry, Treasury and Foreign Affairs, as well as representatives from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The workshop covered topics like the COP26 agenda and areas of negotiation for Iraq.

UNDP has supported delegations to COP since COP21 in 2015 where 196 parties adopted the Paris Agreement, which Iraq signed in 2016 and ratified this year. Since then, UNDP has supported the Government in fulfilling its commitments under this landmark Agreement, including the development of Iraq’s Nationally Determined Contributions – national climate plans that highlight climate actions, including targets, policies and activities to respond to climate change.

What the participants say

“Iraq is one of the five most fragile countries in the world affected by climate change. As a result, we play an important role in climate action, not only nationally, but also regionally and internationally. We are working to uphold our commitments under the Paris Agreement and I believe that Iraq’s climate change initiatives and the increase in ambitions will enhance Iraq’s negotiation for delegates, leading to levels we haven’t reached before.”

Dr. Jassem Alfalahi, Acting Environment Minister

“Our presence at COP is critical. Iraq is negatively impacted by climate change – we must take certain measures that limit greenhouse gas emissions, and we can do this by working together across various government ministries to reach Iraq’s ambitious climate goals and targets.”

Ms. Bushra Abdul Majeed Ahmad, Director General, Ministry of Industry

“This workshop is important for the Kurdistan Region, we rely on technology and international expertise to help achieve climate action in all sectors, such as agriculture. This training will help us implement more initiatives aimed to combat climate change alongside the United Nations and in line with international standards.”

Mr. Azad Nuri Awla, Director of Technical Affairs, Environmental Protection Authority in Kurdistan Regional Government.

What is COP 26?

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), an international environmental treaty addressing climate change and the Conference of the Parties (COP) is the supreme decision-making body of the Convention.

All signatories to the Convention are represented at the COP, at which they review the implementation of the Convention and any other legal instruments adopted by the COP and take decisions necessary to effectively implement the Convention, including institutional and administrative arrangements. The COP meets every year, unless the Parties decide otherwise.

Why is it important?

The COP is an opportunity for world leaders to come together to discuss the global response to the climate crisis, holding world leaders accountable to the commitments they made under the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 2C (ideally 1.5C).

Why is urgent climate action necessary in Iraq?

The impact of climate change in Iraq – a country that has suffered decades of conflict – create barriers to the country’s development, hampering efforts to decrease poverty, boost livelihoods and reduce conflict over natural resources.  Productive sectors like agriculture – which is the major source of income for many farmers in Iraq – are severely affected.

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