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What is the need of Environmental Management In Iraq

30 Jul 2021

What is the need of Environmental Management In Iraq

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What does ISO 14001 represent?

ISO 14001 standard was formulated by International Organization for Standardization and has been revised thrice and the lastest revision was completed in 2015.

This standard aims to bring standardization in managing any organization’s Environment aspects and aspirations. This standard helps and provides a bench mark for the organization to consistently meet the requirements of Interested parties and being more responsible in adhering, countering and compensating environment at least to the extent of offsetting the disturbances caused by the organization by its activities and products etc.,

Why does it gain more important?

As per the recent survey, Iraq faces serious environmental problems, ranging from poor water quality, soil salinity, air pollution, and conflict pollution to the deterioration of key ecosystems, climate change impacts and threat of water shortages.

Poor Air Quality

The most recent data indicates the country's annual mean concentration of PM2.5 is 62 µg/m3 which exceeds the recommended maximum of 10 µg/m3.

Contributors to poor air quality in Iraq include vehicle emissions, power generators, small fires especially from oil and gas refineries, and war-induced pollution. Available data indicates that Baghdad has consistently high levels of air pollution.

Water resources

Water demand is increasing in Iraq due to population growth, environmental considerations, and economic development (Danboos et al, 2017). Iraq is very dependent on the surface water (Tigris and Euphrates Rivers) crossing its borders from neighboring countries. All basin countries (Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey) have developed large-scale projects, most often unilaterally without consultation with the other riparians.

Iraq currently faces a significant threat of water shortages due to internal and external challenges that include poor water resource management, internal political conflicts, lack of local policies, climate change, international development laws, and unstable relationships with neighbouring countries (Al-Muqdadi et al, 2016).

Fawzi and Mahdi (2014) found that a change in the quantity and quality of water in the Tigris, Euphrates and the Shatt Al-Arab River due to the effects of upstream damming has significantly reduced the water flow to Iraq. There has been a severe decline in water quantity and escalating levels of salinity in the Shatt al Arab River (Abdullah et al, 2015; 2016). Climate variability and continued surface water shortages are raising the importance of groundwater as a strategic water source, however, groundwater resources and use is poorly studied in Iraq.

Al-Muqdadi et al (2016) highlight that Iraq could also fall below the water poverty line, which has been defined as less than 1000 m³ per year per person.

Climate change

Between 1970 and 2004, Iraq’s annual mean temperature increased by 1-2° C (World Bank, 2017). Precipitation in Iraq is limited and the majority of the country is arid to semiarid. There have been variable changes in annual rainfall for the period 1951–2000, with both increases (northeast Iraq) and decreases (southeast and west Iraq).

Future expectations, suggest that Iraq will suffer from higher temperatures, intense heat waves, a decrease in mean annual rainfall but an increase in intensity, a decrease in runoff and sea level rise in the Gulf (World Bank, n.d.). These changes are expected to have adverse impacts on the agricultural sector, water resources, human health, the energy sector and infrastructure in Iraq (USAID, 2017).

Hameed et al (2018) found significant drought exacerbation over Iraq during the period of 1998–2009, and identified two significant drought periods of 1998–1999 and 2007–2008. Drought has become more intense at the central and southwestern parts of Iraq, and more frequent but shorter drought has been experienced. Prolonged drought has taken a toll on rain-fed crops in the north of Iraq (USAID, 2017).

Marine pollution

Another challenge is the pollution of Iraq’s marine waters. The Iraq coastal water belt has a high fertility rate, which attracts the Gulf fish during mating seasons and is also the passageway for migrating fish from the Gulf into Iraqi waters. Recently, pollution from oil activities in the Iraqi ports has caused significant damage to regional waters, which has harmed biodiversity and negatively affected fisheries (World Bank, 2017: 99) (see section on salinity).

Pollution Contributors

  1. Conflicts and Pollution

Previous conflicts have left Iraq with a legacy of environmental pollution. Not only did those conflicts directly lead to the spread of hazardous materials through the destruction of industrial and military targets, they also undermined the government’s ability to effectively monitor and manage contaminated sites (Zwijnenburg and Postma, 2017: 5).

Contaminated sites and hazardous material The importance of hazardous waste and land contamination issues on a particular site is strongly linked to its surroundings and in particular to the vulnerability of the local natural environment and population (UNEP, 2007: 13). Looting, leading to dumping of materials and land contamination has further exacerbated poor hazardous waste management practices in Iraq (UNEP, 2007: 16).

Iraq has experienced widespread destruction of civil and industrial infrastructure from systematic and extensive sabotage and looting by ISIS, as well as from airstrikes and military operations to recapture these areas (UNEP, 2017: 2).

Key concerns from the UNEP rapid scoping report include (UNEP, 2017; Zwijnenburg and Postma, 2017):

  • The pollution problems from the Qayyarah oil fires and the Mishraq Sulphur Plant arson
  • The potential risks from future sabotage of sulphur waste
  • The risks from damaged ISIS ammunition manufacturing plants
  • Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination from attacks on energy infrastructure
  • The environmental challenges posed by the vast quantity of debris and waste
  • Concerns over the large quantities of asbestos present at various sites in Mosul past use of depleted uranium (DU) weapons, a radioactive and toxic heavy metal (Zwijnenburg and Postma, 2017). 13

The report also noted that the collapse of environmental governance and the destruction of environmental research laboratories would likely have a long-term impact on recovery and reconstruction efforts. Finally, the report noted that the weaponisation of water management infrastructure had created severe security risks through flooding and degradation of agricultural lands.

Oil fires and oil sector expansion

In Iraq, oil refineries were already a local source of pollution due to inadequate governance and control measures. However, the recent conflict has turned oil and gas industry facilities into a major source of health and environmental risks. Both militant groups and local people have tapped refineries, tanks, pipelines and oil fields for their income potential. Airstrikes by the US-led coalition targeted the oil industry in order to deprive ISIS of oil-revenue (Zwijnenburg and Postma, 2017: 7).


The continued neglect and lack of responsibility is the reason for  the current poor state of affairs in environment. Thus it is duty of every individual and institutions in Iraq to be more responsible and demonstrate that they adhere to the government environmental guidelines.

Obtaining EMS certification is one such step to demonstrate that the organization is responsible and care for the environment and its interested parties.

More Details, Contact
Mail : enquiry@iascertification.com
Mobile : +6531591803

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