Azzam Alwash is the founder and CEO of Nature Iraq, a nongovernmental Iraqi organization that works to protect, restore and preserve Iraq’s natural environment, and is the recipient of the 2013 Goldman Prize for grass roots activism in the protection of the environment. He was also named one of Foreign Policy's 100 Leading Global Thinkers in 2013.
Born in Kut, he earned his bachelor's of science from California State University, Fullerton and doctorate in civil engineering from the University of Southern California. He spent 20 years working with Pacific Soils Engineering, a consulting firm specializing in geological, geotechnical and environmental services in southern California. He has also served on the board of directors of the Iraq Foundation, a Washington-based nonprofit organization promoting democracy and human rights in Iraq.
In 1998, Alwash started Eden Again, a nonprofit environmental advocacy group under the auspices of the aforementioned Iraq Foundation, to bring attention to the environmental disaster caused by Saddam Hussein’s destruction of the marshlands in southern Iraq. He returned to Iraq in 2003 to work on the restoration of the marshes and the protection of Iraq’s environment through grass roots work. His work now mostly focuses on issues relating to water in Iraq and the region, as well as advocacy for political action in general.