19.02.2012 - UNESCO Office for Iraq

Mixed World Heritage nomination to protect the Iraqi Marshlands

©Voices of IraqResidents in a typical Marshlands boat in Southern Iraq

UNESCO Iraq Office, in close collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), organized the First Drafting Workshop for the World Heritage Nomination File of the Iraqi Marshlands.

This event, held in Amman on 18-19 February 2012, is the first of a series of four workshops to take place over the next 11 months within the framework of the UNEP-UNESCO project “World Heritage inscription process as a tool to enhance natural and cultural management of the Iraqi Marshlands”.

Twenty participants drawn from various Iraqi public institutions (Ministries of Environment, Planning, Water Resources, Municipalities and Public Works, Science and Technology, Natural History Museum, and State Board of Antiquities and Heritage) together with one member of the NGO Nature Iraq, were introduced to the requirements of the World Heritage nomination process.

The workshop focused on criteria for outstanding universal value, requirements of authenticity and integrity, and management planning for World Heritage sites. In support of existing initiatives by dedicated Iraqi institutions and individuals, UNESCO and UNEP aim to foster the sustainable development of the Marshlands and to raise the awareness of the importance of the region at the international level through the World Heritage scheme.

In addition to spearheading the World Heritage program, UNESCO brings to the initiative its expertise in cultural and natural heritage management as well as water resource management. UNEP contributes knowledge in environmental management and ecosystem restoration, promotion of environmentally sound means of basic service provision, community engagement, as well as its experience of implementing field-based initiatives in the Iraqi Marshlands.

The world over, mixed natural and cultural sites are a small minority among properties inscribed on the World Heritage List. In the Arab states, out of 79 properties on the World Heritage List, only two are mixed in recognition of their combined natural and cultural outstanding universal values. The World Heritage inscription process for the Marshlands is expected to bring the attention of Iraqi decision makers on the unique values on this region of Southern Iraq, and to prompt them to take action to conserve the region’s unique ecosystem, biodiversity, archeological remains and living culture.

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