Environmental culture.. Iraq starts late

On the occasion of World Environment Day, officials and experts agree that environmental culture in Iraq is almost non-existent, and while they stressed that the country has recently realized the importance of this culture after the deterioration of its environmental reality, they pointed out the necessity of including these concepts in school curricula.

The environmental expert, Ahmed Saleh Nimah, said during an interview with Al Aalem Al Jadeed, “Iraq is still one of the backward countries in the field of environmental culture, as this culture has not spread sufficiently, despite the presence of some concepts about the environment in a few school curricula.”
Nimah points out, “Iraq has lost environmental or agricultural education during the past 40 years, as society has become devoid of one of the most important cultures related to the life of humans and other creatures.”

The environmental expert hopes that “officials in the country will begin to strengthen this culture, even though Iraq began a short time ago to take steps that would enhance environmental awareness and protect the environment by legislating some laws, restrictions, and programs to keep pace with development in this field.”

Today, June 5, the world celebrates World Environment Day, a celebration organized by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and held annually. It is the largest global platform for public awareness of the environment and is celebrated by millions of people around the world and will be hosted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the current year 2024.This year’s celebration activities highlight the importance of preserving the environment and promoting sustainability, with a focus on the issues of land degradation, desertification, and drought and confronting them, in addition to the urgent need for global investment in policies and procedures that enhance the protection of nature and achieve a sustainable future for all.

But in addition to the International Day that falls today, “Iraq and the Arabs celebrate Arab Environment Day on October 14 of every year, since the first environmental protection conference was held in Tunisia in 1986, and this date has become one of the days that countries and the Arab League celebrate to raise awareness of environmental problems and the risks that threaten it and how to preserve and protect it,” according to environmental expert Ahmed Hamdan.

Regarding the level of environmental culture in Iraq, Hamdan added, during an interview with Al Aalem Al Jadeed, that “Iraq is only now beginning to move towards superior knowledge of the environment to try to achieve some points in reality, despite the absence of environmental culture in Iraqi society, there has not been an environmental cultural development over the past decades.”

The environmental expert also points out that “there are currently proposals from some organizations, governmental institutions and environmental groups to add the environmental education subject taught to the early stages of student youth, for the purpose of instilling this culture,” pointing out that “this proposal is very good if implemented, and contributes to the formation of people in the future, they are concerned with environmental reality.”

Iraqis are following with concern the serious deterioration of the environment and the repercussions and catastrophic damage that has begun to destroy humans, animals and plants in Iraq, amid the government’s negligence and inability to take proportionate measures for drought, desertification and environmental pollution.

Environmental pollution in Iraq has increasingly worsened over the past few years, as a result of various factors; Foremost among these are unrest, war, and political conflicts, which led to damage to infrastructure, and the acceleration of unplanned industrial activity, in extracting and refining oil and gas and generating electrical energy.

Environmental pollution in Iraq is also linked to limited municipal services. Such as a fragile sanitation system, poor management of hazardous and non-hazardous waste, in addition to ill-considered agricultural practices. Rapid population growth, the economic crisis, the “Covid-19” pandemic, and the challenges of climate change have also hampered efforts to improve and protect the environment. All of this resulted in the misexploitation of natural resources. Which led to the depletion of resources and a decline in the state of the environment with the pollution of its various elements, including air, water and soil.

For his part, the Director of the Babylon Environment, Makki Al-Shammari, confirmed during an interview with “Al Aalem Al Jadeed” that “environmental culture did not exist for a long time until its features began to appear now, due to the effects of environmental pollution that the country is experiencing, harsh climate changes, and desertification, because these phenomena sounded the bell of danger that makes it necessary to pay attention to the environment.”

Al-Shammari recommends “spreading environmental culture through the media and organizing seminars, as well as strengthening this culture among children, because childhood is the basis of learning. It is necessary to organize lessons for students on the principles of the environment, pollution, noise, and other environmental concepts and principles.”

Iraq faced a number of extreme weather phenomena. Such as drought, desertification, and the increased frequency of intense dust and sandstorms, which led to concentrations of fallout dust that exceeded national limits in 2018 and 2019. The dust led to a noticeable increase in the spread of respiratory diseases.

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