IRIS hosts environmental governance workshop

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On January 26-27, 2024, the Institute of Regional and International Studies (IRIS) conducted the first workshop of the Youth for Accountability in Environmental Governance (YAEG) program. The 2-day workshop in Sulaymaniyah convened 20 participants from all over the country to learn about the inner workings of Iraq’s water and environmental governance systems, with the aim of identifying gaps and developing enhanced policy approaches.

The first day of the workshop hosted Dr. Sabah Al-Baidhani, Advisor to the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Water and Marshes at the Parliament of Iraq, and Dr. Zainab Baha’a, Director of the Environment Research Center at the University of Technology in Baghdad. Dr. Al-Baidhani explained the role of the parliament in environmental monitoring and accountability, and the mechanisms the government follows in collaboration with other government stakeholders to deal with drought seasons. Subsequently, Dr. Baha’a tackled the issue of water treatment units and other types of water infrastructure, focusing on dealing with pollution hotspots in Baghdad and policy approaches to mitigate their impact.

During the second day of the workshop, YAEG participants had the opportunity to hear from former Minister of Water Resources, H.E. Hassan Al-Janabi, who delved into the policymaking aspects of water management as well as the inner workings of bilateral negotiations over water resources. Lastly, the IRIS research team, represented by Dr. Mac Skelton and Dr. Zmkan Saleem, together with Hayder Al-Shakeri of Chatham House, gave lectures about conducting policy research and effective advocacy, concluding with a case study example that elucidated the intricacies of the water problems at the local level.

The YAEG program aims to engage young Iraqi civil society and political leaders in identifying sources of mismanagement in environmental governance and in developing accountability mechanisms to improve performance. Over the course of two residential workshops in Sulaymaniyah, and with the help of expert mentors and current and former officials, the program will help 20 young leaders from all over Iraq and KRI to understand the innerworkings of Iraq’s water and environmental governance across relevant government departments, including drivers of inefficiency. The program will provide the participants with the skills and networks they need to develop bottom-up accountability mechanisms to hold water and environmental governance actors accountable.

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