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August 10, 2022

SDGs: A step towards sustainability in Iraq

In efforts to bring sustainability to Iraq, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) conference was held. From partaking in multi-sectoral discussions to unpacking each of the goals, around 400 students had the opportunity to create projects in regard to the SDGs.

While the global goals are ambitious, if we all make one small positive change, we can make a big difference!

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, are 17 interconnected international objectives that serve as a “roadmap to a better and more sustainable future for all.” The UN General Assembly established the SDGs in 2015 which are global goals and actions taken by the whole world, with the ambition to achieve them by the year 2030.

On 10 March 2022, SPARK, with the support of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, participated in the closing event of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) conference at the University of Mosul as a sponsor for the outcome projects of the conference. The Jobs and Perspective programme from SPARK in collaboration with Graz University and Dortmund University started implementing this project with the University of Mosul, as one of the most important steps towards implementing the sustainable development goals.

The student conference was a week-long extracurricular event for university students and academics to engage in interdisciplinary dialogue and exchange regarding challenges to reconstruction and reconciliation in post-war Iraq. This was done by collaboratively reviewing scientific findings and developing ideas on how young people, academia and the wider society in Nineveh and Iraq can contribute to reaching the SDGs. As part of the conference, about 400 students from all academic disciplines joined 30 interdisciplinary, problem and SDG-oriented workshops, that were carefully prepared by professors and lecturers from Iraq, Germany and Austria.

Workshops were open to all participants, focused on problem-solving, and aimed to improve academics, communication, peacemaking, and interdisciplinary thinking. They were extremely pertinent to the conference’s theme, connected to particular SDG objectives and targets, built on a scientific notion, problem-solving-oriented, student-oriented, hands-on, inclusive, inspiring, enlightening, and empowering.

From the closing speech, Mr. Firas Deeb, Programme Manager at SPARK, said: “We as SPARK are working for community development and focusing on youth engagement, gender equality and social cohesion, which are a very important part of the Sustainable Development Goals. And during this conference, we were ready to choose a number of important community project ideas as the outcome of this conference to support and follow up afterwards.”

A total of 32 projects were submitted by students covering all the sustainable goals, such as: Economic development in Nineveh and Iraq, clean energy for Mosul, woman power for sustainability, etc. After the completion of the conference, sustained follow-up was taken care of for the students’ projects. For this purpose, a two-day workshop was held in May 2022 for the selected projects to present and further reinforce their ideas and turn them into more practical, implementable and smart projects.

At the end of the workshop, the winning teams were selected and granted technical and financial support to further develop and implement their ideas. 

SPARK’s aim is to focus on students’ visions for implementing sustainability-related concepts in their immediate region since Iraq still faces many challenges on the road to sustainable development due to the difficult conditions lasting more than three decades, starting with the Iraq-Iran War, then the first Gulf War in 1991 and the economic embargo that continued until the second Gulf War in 2003. These and many other factors led to a significant deterioration in the indicators of sustainable development in Iraq, especially the environmental situation, decreasing the sources of renewable water, rapid depletion of resources, and a significant reduction in the rates of public expenditure on health and education. As a result, it is urgently necessary to implement the sustainable development goals in all of their dimensions in order to improve the current situation and create a foundation for the future. By involving all segments of the community and the government, it is possible to emphasize the importance of education in creating a society that is sustainable.