Iraq and the return to the development path

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“Iraq and the return to the development path”

a reading of the results of the second national voluntary report of the achievement of the sustainable development goals

a reading of the results of the second national voluntary report of the achievement of the sustainable development goals


By: Gasmi Abdelssami
Junior associated researcher at IFPMC




Last July, the Iraqi Ministry of Planning issued its second voluntary report on what has been accomplished within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Iraq. The second report, which was completed by the National Committee for Sustainable Development in cooperation with international and local organizations, came under the title “Iraq… and a return to the development path.” In its second edition, it adopted updated and new data on the overall achievements and challenges related to sustainable development.

This paper briefly reviews the most important contents of the report and the contexts of its issuance, in addition to the most important recommendations that came with it.


  1. Brief overview of the report:

The Voluntary Report on the Achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals is a detailed document submitted by the Member States of the United Nations on their efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), that are outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the United Nations, which includes 17 goals that cover all aspects of life such as education, health, security, well-being and others.

In a speech to the Iraqi report preparation team, it was noted that the report stems from Iraq’s international commitment to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as an ambitious plan and a compass for the development process. This report focused on specific goals, which are as follows:

– eliminate poverty,

– good health and well-being,

– good education,

– gender equality,

Peace, justice, and strong institutions Partnerships to achieve goals


The report came in four chapters, starting with the introduction, passing through the local and national context, progress in achieving the goals of decentralization, sustainable local development, and the roles of governorates in sustainable development. The axes of this paper will briefly address them.


  1. Context of issuing the report:


The report comes in light of important and delicate political and economic transformations, which were listed by the report to emphasize the sensitivity of the current context and the opportunities it offers to learn from past mistakes and benefit from the lessons learned.

According to the report, the popular movement that erupted on October 01, 2019, is an important social and political event in the contemporary history of Iraq and an opportunity to change, correct the course, and embark on a sound building and construction process for Iraq in accordance with the principles of sustainable development and good governance. Less than a year after this pivotal event, the Covid-19 pandemic came to knock on the door of the world and Iraq, and in turn declared a state of emergency that resulted in great economic and social repercussions caused by the quarantine and the subsequent closure of shops and public spaces.


  1. Report messages:


Report messages are identified in the following elements:


  • Internally:

Emphasizing the role of youth in formulating a new social contract and their qualitative contribution to the development process,

Creating positive competition at the local level, promoting decentralization, equality, justice and the principle of participatory decision-making

Emphasizing the role of the state and various actors in limiting the repercussions of the health crisis, mitigating its effects on vulnerable groups, activating solidarity responsibility, and the roles of the private sector and civil society.


  • Externally:

Emphasizing the role of partnerships and international cooperation in the current context

Maintaining the path of development

  1. Progress in Achieving Objectives:


With regard to the level of progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, between 2018 and 2020, Iraq achieved a progress estimated by 9.4 points in the Sustainable Development Goals Progress Index, ranking 113 out of 166, while it ranked 127 out of 156 countries in 2018, obtaining a score of 53 .7 points, and 60.8 points in 2019, ranking 117 out of 162.

The report attributes the reason for the decline in levels of progress in achieving the sustainable development goals to the problems that Iraq is still facing, such as poverty and unemployment, adding that the Corona pandemic contributed significantly to the severity of these problems.

In 2018, Iraq has completed the first goal of eradication of poverty, while other 16 goals are still within the challenges, due to political conditions, war on terror and their discrepancies, as well as regional problems that have adversely affected the achievement of goals,

– In 2019, high rates, unemployment and social pest accumulation led to the emergence of new challenges at the first target level, while other goals remained otherwise 10 is suffering from a number of obstacles affected. According to the report, it is due to existing regional, social, security and political problems,

– In 2020, Iraq faced various challenges and diminishing sustainable development goals, which faced key challenges in the following nine objectives, 2, 3, 5, 9, 10, 15, 15 and 16, and a major challenge in three targets: 4, 6 and 11. The five remaining goals, 1, 7, 12, 13 and 17, have faced the same mentioned challenges.


Generally, the report summarizes Iraq’s challenges as part of its achievement for the goals of sustainable development in the routine nature of the economy. As well as the burden of indebtedness, weak performance, political and security indeed, which created several repercussions, including conflicts and disorders, the outbreak of administrative and financial corruption and the impact of the subwoofers negatively on efficiency and achievement standards.

The report also confirms that environmental challenges like desertification, pollution and water problem, are one of the most prominent challenges facing Sustainable Development Agenda in Iraq.

At the local level, on the basis of the development of the Development Area, the provinces of the Sulaymaniyah and Rabil and Dahuk have achieved the first three mattresses in achieving sustainable development goals, followed by Kirkuk Governorate Baghdad. In contrast, Anbar province came in the last two salary by the security events of the recent years. In general, the report considers that all governorates except Kurdistan and the capital of Baghdad, the rate of development has come up with a convergent, although the circumstances passed.


As a conclusion… Recommendations to achieve sustainable development goals in Iraq:

The report is raised at the end of question “What after?” A pivotal question prepares a gateway towards continuing efforts and achieving the goals under the remaining ten years. Here, it can be said that the implementation of sustainable development goals is mortgaged by comprehensive and effective financing through budget restructuring, and attracting foreign direct investment, in addition to promoting partnership between the public, private sector and civil society and involving these two last two in the development process.

In this context, the report affirms the role of stakeholders that can be summarized:

– Government and Public Sector:

  • Work on the review of budget and physical policies and strengthen the principles of Rashed governance,
  • Promote human rights
  • Confirm the role and integration of women in all sectors based on their capacity and skills
  • Youth and enabling
  • Promote decentralization and make them a path for development process
  • Make use of the data revolution and facilitate transparent access to national data and increase their production, by supporting the Central Bureau of Statistics and enabling this vital task.

        Private sector:

  • Strengthen the role of the private sector and make it an essential and strategic partner in the next 10 years of achieving the ruling targets, by reforming legal and regulatory frameworks, simplifying procedures and investment stimulation,
  • Activate the private sector for its responsibility for the country and citizens through improved goods and services and harmony with sustainable development goals.

-Civil society:

  • The number of registered civil society organizations is 4,605, an important figure that can play a crucial role within the partnership between the public and private sector and civil society
  • Promote the awareness role of civil society organizations with sustainable development agenda at the national and local levels.


-International organizations:

  • Polarizing the International Organization for Sustainable Development and its efforts to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development goals
  • Strengthen international cooperation and exchange experiences and transfer technologies contribute to sustainable development.


– Educational and academic institutions:

  • Support distance education and integrated teaching times crisis,
  • Support higher education sector as a major source of human capital





1To view the report, the following link is considered

2 The second national voluntary report of the objectives of sustainable development 2021: Iraq … and return to the development track, Ministry of Planning, Baghdad, July 2021, p. 33

3 Ibid., p .33

4 Ibid.,, p. 33

5 Ibid.,, p. 84-85

Ibid., p. 155.



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