The Marshlands (al-ahwar) of Mesopotamia in southern Iraq, is registered on UNESCO’s World Heritage Tentative list in preparation for nominating it to be a natural and cultural (mixed) world heritage site. IUCN ROWA has trained a number of stakeholders mainly represented by the governmental sector in Mesopotamia to start preparing for the nomination file for this site. The Training on World Heritage Nomination Process for Marshland of Mesopotamia in Iraq was held in Amman, on June 27-29, 2009 and was organized and funded by UNESOC Iraq Office and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The training was facilitated by IUCN Regional World Heritage Focal Point Ms Haifaa Abdulhalim and Mr. Zaki Aslan from ICCROM; an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the conservation of cultural heritage.
The training focused on building the Iraqi capacities to enhance the Mesopotamia site in meeting the standards of the Outstanding Universal Values for World Heritage Sites in terms of protection and management, integrity and authenticity and meeting the criteria.
The Mesopotamian marshlands are an integral part of the Tigris-Euphrates river basin, which is shared by Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Studies from the third World Water Forum in Kyoto indicated that of the 10% of the marshlands left, one third has disappeared in the past two years with many endangered species such as the Sacred Ibis and African darter holding on at a knife's edge.