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Senior Iraqi delegation discusses enhancing cooperation with ESCWA

Beirut, Lebanon

Among the important efforts of Iraq to drive economic and social development after years of conflict, a senior Iraqi delegation led by the Secretary General of the Iraqi Council of Ministers, Mahdi Al-Allaq, and accompanied by the Iraqi Ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Al Ameri, recently met with the Executive Secretary of ESCWA, Mohamed Ali Alhakim, and senior officials from his team.
The discussions, which took place at the UN House in Beirut on 30 April, revolved around the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi’s vision for the future of the region based on “development and expansion of security rather than differences and wars.”
Mr. Al-Allaq underscored that the Iraqi initiative urges countries of the region to work together to build economies in a more integral way. The Iraqi vision also upholds establishing deep, strong and sustainable bonds between people of the region and not just between their governments.
He added that the vision insists on giving hope to youth by seeking to provide job opportunities through rehabilitation and productive endeavours. The Iraqi initiative is also based on a comprehensive development programme and the optimal use of energy as a better alternative under fair policies based on citizenship and equal rights and duties without discrimination.
Speaking of an ongoing project with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on a population count for 2020, Mr. Al-Allaq noted that this would be the first all-inclusive census since 1987. He expressed his hope for ESCWA’s support, especially in terms of capacity building to implement the e-Government project that has been underway for ten years in Iraq and is now making progress.
ESCWA directors and chiefs of section spoke about the role of the regional commission in achieving development in Iraq, from the perspective of their respective area of work.
The Director of the Sustainable Development Policies Division (SDPD), Roula Majdalani, spoke about current projects related to climate change and the management of shared water resources, the need to reclaim agricultural lands and to look at food security from a regional cooperation perspective.
The Director of the Economic Development and Integration Division (EDID), Mohamed Moctar El Hacene, highlighted regional  Single Window projects and  support to the government to increase the efficiency of financial policies, social development, and reducing poverty.
For his part, the Director of the Statistics Division (SD), Juraj Riecan, addressed areas of bilateral cooperation with Iraq and in particular the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) indicators and social statistics.
Gisela Nauk, Chief of the Inclusive Social Development Section of the Social Development Division (SDD), highlighted the need to link the development of the country to economic and social advancements for its people, and stressed  the importance of establishing a cross-link between different sectors in order to achieve social justice.
On technology, innovation and fighting unemployment, the Chief of the Innovation Section, Nibal Idlebi, mentioned the various studies currently underway on innovation and entrepreneurship and creating youth employment. She also spoke about the importance of  linking research to the various industries and job markets.
Finally, Executive Secretary Alhakim noted that ESCWA will prepare an operational framework for the Iraqi vision that will be discussed at the level of experts, incorporating topics discussed during this meeting. The vision will also be added to the joint cooperation framework which ESCWA is set to sign with the Iraqi government in the near future.