Activities  Sustainable Resource Use Mesopotamian Marshlands
Capacity Building
Early Warning
Global Change
Sustainable Resource Use
-Lake Balaton
-Iraq Marshlands Observation System
-Mesopotamian Marshlands
 List of Press Clippings
 May 2003: Water Returns to the Desiccated Mesopotamian Marshlands
 28 May 2003: Press Release
 23 May 2003: Mesopotamian Marshlands Forum PPT Presentation
 22 March 2003: “Garden of Eden” in Southern Iraq Likely to Disappear Completely in Five Years Unless Urgent Action Taken
 2002: Photos
 2001: Report
 13 August 2001: Press Release
 18 May 2001: UNEP Study Sounds Alarm About the Disappearance of the Mesopotamian Marshlands
-Lake Balkhash
-Freshwater in Europe
-Water for Peace
-Nile River Basin

The Mesopotamian Marshlands: Demise of an Ecosystem

UNEP Study Sounds Alarm about the Disappearance of the Mesopotamian Marshlands
Despite intermittent warnings against the imminent decline of the Mesopotamian marshlands, there has been little immediate action to avoid such a fate. Iraq's difficult situation in the past decade has limited access to and hindered monitoring of events in the marshlands. As a result, this major ecological disaster, broadly comparable in extent and rapidity to the drying of the Aral Sea and the deforestation of large tracts of Amazonia, has gone virtually unreported until now.

"There is no doubt that the disappearance of the Mesopotamian marshlands represents a major environmental catastrophe that will be remembered as one of humanity's worst engineered disasters. It is a devastating account embodying in many respects the environmental crises of our times. This disaster encompasses disputes over water rights; pollution; threats to indigenous communities and to archaeological sites; human rights, environmental refugees and war damages; and declining populations of migratory birds and coastal fisheries.

It is hoped that this report will act as a clarion call, sparking fresh debate and opening new lines of communication between Tigris-Euphrates riparian countries, encouraging them to come together and share their precious rivers in a peaceful, socially-equitable and environmentally-sustainable manner."

Klaus Töpfer, UNEP Executive Director

This report is available to download in PDF format (1.05 Mb)
Click to go to Klaus Töpfer Message
Click to go to UNEP Information Note 2001