Iraq is at high risk of suffering the worst effects of the climate crisis, including soaring temperatures and acute water scarcity.
As land suitable for farming shrinks and rural jobs disappear, ordinary Iraqis are moving to cities in search of work. This increases pressure on services, pushes up food prices, and exacerbates social tensions, leading to protests and even violence.
Iraq’s weak internal governance prevents it from improving water management, managing inter-provincial and inter-tribal conflict, and attracting investment and expertise to create new green-economy jobs and adapt to the changing climate.
Public awareness of climate risks is growing, but too few political leaders prioritise the issue.
Iraq has long struggled to reach agreement on water issues with upstream states Turkey and Iran, which are building dams that affect supply to Iraq; they also believe that Iraq manages water badly. Similar issues complicate relations between Baghdad and the Kurdistan region.
Iraqis and Europeans should work together to improve Iraq’s poor governance and consider measures such as establishing an ‘early warning’ system about potential conflict arising from climate effects.