Dr. Azzam Alwash was born in Kut, Iraq in 1958 and left in 1978 for the United States, where he completed his graduate work, earning a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from the University of Southern California in 1988. He has more than 30 years experience in the environmental and geotechnical fields.
Alwash started Eden Again, a program that put a spotlight on the drying of the marshes of southern Iraq, under the auspices of the Free Iraq Foundation, where he is a member of the board of directors. After the removal of Saddam Hussein, he moved back to Iraq to work on the restoration of the marshes and founded Nature Iraq, an Iraqi NGO focused on the preservation of Iraq’s environment and cultural heritage — an effort that earned him the Takreem Award in 2011, The Goldman Environment Prize for 2013, as well as distinction as one of Foreign Policy’s 100 forward-thinking leaders of the world in 2013.
Recognizing the need for Iraq to improve its undergraduate education system, Alwash became a founding member of the board of trustees of American University of Iraq, Sulaimani in 2006. The university aims to educate future leaders of Iraq and the region through a liberal arts model that allows students, who reflect the mosaic of Iraq, to interact and form life-long friendships, hold honest discussion about the modern and ancient history of the region alongside a rigorous scientific curriculum. Alwash has worked actively to raise funds to improve the institution’s infrastructure and educational faculty. The first graduating class was in 2011 and the university now has some 1400 students with plans to expand to a 5000-strong student body.
Dr. Alwash is working now on issues of water and the environment through Nature Iraq and American University of Iraq, Sulaimani to promote the idea of cooperation on water management and making water an instrument of peace rather than the source of tension in the future Middle East.