Iraq’s northern city of Mosul will on Monday host the country's first international forum on climate change, future challenges and solutions, bringing together local and international experts.
“It will discuss the climate change in Iraq as a whole with a focus on finding solutions through collaboration between local and international entities,” Omar Mohammed, the founder of Mosul Eye, a leading non-government group that organised the forum, told The National.
“It is an opportunity to explore the green economy, innovation and more creative and sustainable solutions."
Mr Mohammed's home town Mosul will be “at the centre of this as a city with challenges but also unexplored resources, especially water", he said.
Mosul is still recovering from the three-year reign of ISIS and the war to claw back the city from the militants. It and surrounding areas are facing a wide range of challenges, from post-war reconstruction to climate change threats.
After ISIS overran the city in 2014, Mosul Eye became known internationally as a defiant, anonymous online site, providing a glimpse of life inside the city under the militants’ occupation.
Last year, Mr Mohammed launched the Green Mosul initiative to plant trees in different areas in and around Mosul, including a forest inside the city. More than 9,000 trees have been planted.
“This also marks a new beginning, as the people of Mosul have planted the seeds of a green future for the city,” the NGO said.
“The initiative played an instrumental part in promoting urban greening as a means towards post-war stabilisation and raising awareness about climate change."
The one-day event, called the Climate Change International Forum, will take place at the Grand Theatre of Mosul University.
Local authorities, community leaders, activists, students and professors, as well as diplomats, international NGOs and experts, will attend the forum.
The participants will reflect on what has been achieved so far and discuss concrete solutions to current and coming climate-related challenges.
Iraq’s Ministry of Environment says the war-ravaged country is the fifth most vulnerable country in the world to the effects of climate change.
It faces a wide range of challenges made worse by water insecurity, mismanagement and man-made problems such as the illegal clearing of agricultural areas to build houses.
More frequent and intense droughts, sandstorms, heatwaves and rising sea levels are wreaking havoc on people's livelihoods and communities.
As climate change worsens, dangerous weather events are posing threats to the country’s social coherence, worsening disputes over land and water, and further weakening Iraq's fragile economy.