Last week we spoke with Azzam Alwash, who earned a 2013 Goldman Prize for restoring a vast marshland in Iraq that had been drained and depleted under Saddam Hussein. This week we continue our discussion with Alwash, who has a refreshingly optimistic view of Iraq’s long-term prospects. He shares his hopes about cooperation with neighbors like Turkey, personal opinions about the war, unconventional ideas about what to do with some of the country’s minefields, and talks to host Alex Wise about the road he took to move his organization Nature Iraq from a small grassroots campaign to a triumphant and internationally acclaimed movement.
We are not very used to hearing good news about Iraq these days. Nor is there an abundance of feel good stories about the earth’s dwindling wetlands. So, when this week’s guest successfully launched an effort to restore the Mesopotamian marshlands in southern Iraq which had been drained, poisoned and burned under Saddam Hussein in the mid-nineties, it got a fair amount of attention.
Azzam Alwash went about refilling these wetlands, once an abundant area for diverse wildlife, by gathering support in Iraq’s prickly political landscape and applying his own complex understanding of hydraulic engineering. The struggle is far from over, but given the heroic actions he has taken, it’s no surprise Dr. Alwash is the most recent winner of the Goldman Prize, the environmental equivalent of the Oscars – and this week’s guest on Sea Change Radio.