Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative

The Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI) is dedicated to bringing together Iraqi and international civil societies through concrete actions to build together another Iraq, with peace and Human Rights for all.

Launch of Sumereen: Socio-economic growth through eco-tourism in Thi Qar


Thi Qar, 26 August 2020- Funded by the European Union (EU), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will be supporting socio-economic growth through eco-tourism and cultural heritage preservation in the Governorate of Thi Qar, south of Iraq. Virtually launched, project Sumereen: Sumerian Youth for Economic Development and Cultural Heritage, will be implemented in partnership with a number of non-governmental organizations, namely Un Ponte Per, Humat Dijlah, Safina Projects and Carlo Leopardi Studio. The two-year project is part of the programme Supporting Recovery and Stability in Iraq through Local Development.

Sumereen aims at the promotion of Thi Qar as a tourist destination, through the construction of tourist infrastructure in Ur archaeological site and the Marshlands, the provision of vocational training in eco-tourism and environmental conservation, in addition to the creation of employment opportunities for local communities, specifically youth and women.

Head of the EU Delegation to the Republic of Iraq, H.E. Ambassador Martin Huth, said: “I am very pleased to see the launch of the Sumereen project that so well represents the EU’s approach to supporting Iraq and its people from North to South, notably also in Thi Qar. Led by the Governor, H.E. Nazem Hamid Al-Waeli, this project will provide some much-needed job opportunities for Thi Qar’s young people. I am happy that Sumereen also provides a long-term perspective for the communities by promoting the Governorates’ unique cultural and natural heritage, the archaeological site of Ur, and the marshes. Combining sustainable socio-economic development with environmental preservation is the way forward for the green recovery of Iraq. I do wish all our partners the best of success for this important project.”

Resident Representative of UNDP Iraq, Ms. Zena Ali-Ahmad, said: “Sumereen is a promising project for the people of Thi Qar and the future of eco-tourism in the south of Iraq. We are grateful for the EU for their support to the important programme that will help us provide the necessary support to the local communities. We look forward to working closely with our partners in the governorate to achieve tangible, sustainable results that can transform the image of this culturally-rich Governorate, and support the youth find their place in the job market, as well as promote the investment environment in the area. Building resilient communities remains a top priority for UNDP in Iraq.”

Representative of Un Ponte Per in Iraq, Sumereen Project Manager, Mr. Toon Bijnens, stated: “Un Ponte Per believes that the Marshlands and the site of Ur, both included in the UNESCO World Heritage List as the Ahwar, can foster the socio-economic development of Thi Qar. We are glad to be contributing to this goal through our partnership with UNDP. In the coming months, Sumereen will be involving local communities, women, youth, civil society, local authorities and the private sector through participatory processes for the preservation and development of Ur and the Marshlands.”

The programme Supporting Recovery and Stability in Iraq through Local Development aims at contributing to the stability and socio-economic development of Iraq through enhancing democratic governance at the local level. It is working to improve the ability of selected governorates to efficiently manage local government and public services. Economic growth and job creation are prioritized, with a focus on green projects, involving youth and women, in addition to enhancing the living conditions of returnees and in conflict affected areas.

The programme fact sheet can be downloaded through this link:

For additional information, please contact:


Ms. Nidaa Hilal, Senior Communications Specialist


Mob: +964 751 745 0799

Un Ponte Per

Mr. Yahia Kareem, Communication Officer


Mob: +964 772 550 1242

The EU Delegation to the Republic of Iraq

Mr. Alsadiq Al Adilee, Press and Information Officer  


Mob: +964 780 928 5377


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