UNDP official sheds light on crisis

Iraq is losing 400,000 acres of agricultural land annually due to climate change

BAGHDAD, August 14 — The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has warned that Iraq is losing close to 400,000 acres of agricultural land each year due to climate change, as temperatures across the country rise 2 to 7 times faster than the global average.

Speaking to the official state newspaper Al-Sabah, UNDP Resident Representative, Auke Lootsma said Iraq ranks fifth among countries most vulnerable to climate change, with temperature increases accelerating faster than global standards.

Lootsma added that “wetland areas are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change,” noting that “recent years have witnessed temperature increases exceeding 55 degrees Celsius, intensifying the frequency and severity of droughts.”

He continued, stating that “the rainfall season in Iraq during 2020-2021 was the second driest in 40 years, resulting in a 29% reduction in flow in the Tigris River and a 73% reduction in the Euphrates River, leading to decreased water quantities.”

Lootsma explained that “climate changes such as wetland drought, land degradation, and desertification make Iraq one of the Middle East’s most affected countries by sand and dust storms.”

He affirmed that UNDP in Iraq is collaborating with the Iraqi government on climate action and supporting its national priorities.

“This threat is evident in water scarcity, sandstorms, extreme heatwaves, desertification, food security, loss of biodiversity, and land degradation. Iraq loses around 400,000 acres of agricultural land annually,” Lootsma said.

The UN is currently helping Iraqi officials to develop practical solutions to address climate change, including a national mitigation action plan, environmental strategy, green growth strategy, and energy and renewable energy support.