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Maha Yassin (Climate Fellow, IRIS, American University of Sulimani), The Challenges and Opportunities of Climate Activism in Iraq

Centre for Gulf Studies Virtual Seminar Series

Event details

Climate change is affecting Iraq in unprecedented way. Drought, heatwaves and sand and dust storms are becoming more recurrent and extreme. The impact on food security, economy, environment and overall stability is massive, however, the state response to mitigate or adapt has been modest and ineffective. There are several reseaons behind the poor response including conflicts and corruption. Yet, the most important reason is internal political conflicts.
In the south the impact is even bigger. Thousands of families and farmers lost their livelihoods and had to leave their lands to urban center looking for better opportunities. Yet, this adaptation strategy has brought a set of issues. Motivated by the need for fast and adequate climate response, activists and civil society members organized their efforts to raise awareness and bring relief to the most affected communities. They have collaborated with international organizations, implemented extensive advocacy and awareness campaigns but their efforts have proved to be problematic. Climate activists in Iraq are regarded by some parties as a political activist who aim to destabilase the fragile peace in the country. They were targeted by defamation campaigns that have, in times, succeeded in even turning the public opinion about them. Soon climate activists in Iraq became the target of militias and non-state actors, they faced intimidation, kidnap, torture and forced displacement.
While the impact of climate change is exacerbating, the civil society in Iraq has been excluded from providing meaningful contribution on the basis of its ties with foreign actors who have ill intentions to the country.


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