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The Cradle of Civilization in Peril: A Closer Look at the Impact of Climate Change in Iraq

ACYF Final Paper First Page Photo_Abdullah J. Alfayadh
ACYF Final Paper First Page Photo_Abdullah J. Alfayadh

The severity of climate impacts in Iraq—the cradle of civilization, the land between the two rivers—is not a crisis of the future. It is a crisis of today. The UN has named Iraq as the fifth most vulnerable country to climate change by the United Nations, and this nation’s climate challenge is a key part of the larger problems faced by the wider MENA region.

Through an assessment of published literature and traditional and social media in Iraq—as well as dialogue with local and international experts—this paper reveals the interaction of climate vulnerability and communal cohesion, especially in communities coping with ruptured social ties due to cycles of conflict past and present.

Looking at how these challenges play out in the Diyala governorate reveal how issues of competition over natural resources, migration, strained public services, and intra-state water allocation drive climate vulnerability and instability in Iraq. Indeed, these is an increasing consensus that climate change acts as a “threat multiplier” to exacerbate conflict and fragility— both in Diyala and elsewhere in Iraq.

About the Author

Abdullah J. Alfayadh

Abdullah J. Alfayadh

Agents of Change Youth Fellow;
Program Coordinator, United Nation’s Iraq Mission 

Climate Induced Challenges in Iraq and the Diyala Region: Barriers to Recovery for Communities in Post-Conflict Settings

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