Successive conflicts in Iraq were characterised by tactics to damage its oil and industrial assets that not only led to huge economic loss, but pollution of environmental resources (air, land and water) on an unprecedented scale. The Damage and Needs Assessment (DNA)1 carried out by the World Bank Group (WBG) in 2017, estimated damages to the environmental resources at IQD85 billion (US$73 million) and sectoral losses as a result of the conflict at IQD3.5 trillion (US$3 billion). Further, this assessment estimated that up to 47 percent of natural forests in the country may have been destroyed and large areas of land have been contaminated by land mines and hazardous chemicals.
Unless these contaminated sites (also referred as ‘environmental hotspots’ in this document) are identified and remediated and/ or managed appropriately as part of the broader reconstruction program of Iraq, it is likely that the negative impacts (both economic and environmental) will be felt for generations to come. In addition, creating better environmental conditions and investments in human and physical capital is crucial for the economic diversification, job creation and healthy citizens for a stable and sustainable development of post-conflict Iraq.
The main objective of this report is to present a broad framework and suggested prioritization for the remediation and/or management of environmental hotspots in Iraq. The recommendations have been informed by a detailed inventory and assessment of hotspots carried out by the Ministry of Environment (MoE), Government of Iraq (GoI) with capacity building support provided through the Advisory Services and Analytical (ASA) work of the World Bank. The work involved analysis of the scale and significance of contamination in the conflict affected governorates of Al Anbar, Babil, Baghdad, Diyala, Kirkuk, Nineveh and Salah Al-Din and identifying essential elements of a program for the remediation/ management of environmental hotpots in the country.