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Supporting UNEP in the production of climate change scenarios and risk assessment for Iraq

Funder

UN Environment Programme (UNEP)

Project Team

-

Partners

Wood Plc; Climate Change Risk Management (CCRM)

Timescales

2020-2023

Country/Region

Iraq

Key Contact

Prof Ros Cornforth, Prof Rosalind Cornforth (Walker), Elena Saggioro (Walker), Celia Petty (Walker), Christine Wissink (Wood), Stephan Harrison (CCRM)

Keywords

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); Iraq; Climate Risk: Scenarios; National Adaptation Plan (NAP)

Status

Current

Background

The Asia-Pacific is one of the regions most vulnerable to climate change and future impacts are projected to intensify. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) supports countries in the region in developing their National Adaptation Plans (NAP), sponsoring the provision of consultancy to co-produce local climate change scenarios and climate risk assessments. 

This project, funded by the Green Climate Fund, is part of the UNEP contribution to the delivery of climate change adaptation in Iraq, specifically through the support to the development of its NAP. Iraq is the first country that the project consortium is supporting under a broader UNEP Asia-Pacific programme.

In partnership with Wood Plc and Climate Change Risk Management (CCRM), the Walker Institute is working together with the UNEP, NAP partners and local officials in Iraq to determine relevant gaps in relation to climate knowledge in Iraqi institutions and determine how to build capacity to address climate change. The research aims to build local adaptive capacity in Iraq whilst contributing to the mainstreaming of regional and national adaptation efforts and understanding of climate change risks.

Our research

The Walker Institute led on the co-development of a Climate Risk Assessment (CRA), and the co-production of a strategy and implementation plan for the establishment of an Iraqi Climate Modelling Unit (CMU) to support national climate adaptation planning. All outputs have been carefully designed to be accessible and actionable by the Iraqi Government agencies as well as the local research institutions.

The CMU strategy and implementation plan were developed in dialogue with local academics, civil servants, and in-country UNEP representatives. To consult on the CMU strategy and to gather insights into climate services in action, we conducted interviews and facilitated an Arabic-English participatory workshop with Government representatives and local scientists online.

The CRA was built around the construction of several ‘future climate storylines’. This innovative research approach was new to the UNEP’s NAP process and has been applied for the first time in Iraq.  We developed storylines for two eco-regions in Iraq - the Persian Gulf coast and the Southern Marshes regions. The Government identified these areas, on which many depend for their livelihoods, as home to critical ecosystems and especially vulnerable to climate change. The storylines distil the uncertainty of climate projections into simple-to-communicate scenarios, around which possible adaptation strategies can be designed.

Our impact

The establishment of the new Iraqi Climate Modelling Unit (CMU) will help to devolve capability to Iraq to take forwards climate risk assessments and adaptation planning. The rationale, positioning and strategy for the establishment and financing of the CMU modelling unit co-developed by the Walker Institute will lead to the development of a fully functioning and effective multi-sectoral national climate service in Iraq.

To share the findings and recommendations of the Climate Risk Assessment, we hosted a combined workshop and learning lab for government officials and local scientists in summer 2022.

Led by Wood Plc and with support from Walker and CCRM, the consortium produced GIS portal, in tandem with the CRA report to support climate scenario data use. The portal hosts climate hazard maps as well as several other climate related datasets.

Our flexible and people centred working methods resulted in trust in the process and final outputs.  Throughout the project, the including on our ability to embrace project iterations, understanding stakeholders and our focus on developing quality outcomes. 

The consortium secured new UNEP funding to undertake a detailed socio-economic and adaptation options appraisal for Iraq.  The Climate Risk Assessment and storylines will inform our approach to this work.