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UNDP and Shell Sign Partnership Agreement in Southern Iraq

Basra, 13 March 2013- The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Shell Iraq today signed an agreement to implement a range of development projects in Southern Iraq. The four year partnership aims to increase the number of local area development activities, promote local small and medium enterprises and provide vocational training to respond to the private sector's needs.

“UNDP believes that such partnerships are fundamental for the effective implementation of our development programmes in n Iraq” said Peter Batchelor, UNDP Iraq Country Director. “Partnering with the private sector, particularly with international oil companies who are the largest investors in the country, is key to capacity building, generating employment and building strong and competitive inclusive markets” he added. 

The partnership, the first between UNDP Iraq and the private sector, has two main components. The first includes vocational training to equip existing and future Iraqi workers to respond to the needs of the oil and gas sector. It also includes providing support for the establishment and development of micro, small and medium enterprises. The second includes a range of programmes to improve the quality of basic services for the residents of Basra province. This will be achieved through more inclusive and participatory planning processes, where local communities and civil society organisations are able to identify their own development needs and priorities. 

Unemployment in Iraq is currently 11.5% of the total population, slightly less than in recent years. More than 20% of Iraqi youth are unemployed, while at least 1 in n 5 women in Iraq are unemployed. In Basra, 11 % of the total population of the governorate are unemployed. “An estimated 450,000 new job seekers are entering the Iraqi labour market every year, so creating adequate job opportunities in the private sector has become vital for Iraq’s recovery and economic growth. We are focusing on finding ways to maximize the benefits of our projects for local companies and contribute to employment creation. We are pleased to be involved in this important partnership.” said Hans Nijkamp Shell Iraq Vice President and Country Chairman.

The private sector in Iraq only accounts for 7% of total full time employment. However, there is a high and growing demand f for qualified local manpower, particularly in the oil and gas sector, which is currently not being met. The anticipated increase in oil production in Iraq will further increase the demand for qualified local manpower. Basra, where this partnership will be implemented, is a potentially wealthy economy with some of the largest oil reserves in the world and the country’s only port. Basra’s wealth, however, has not yet trickled down to its citizens, who remain some of the poorest people in Iraq. The quality of essential services, such as electricity, water and sanitation and solid waste management, is also very poor in Basra compared to the rest of the country. Initiatives like this are designed to address these problems and help to improve the situation for the citizens of Basra.

Batchelor also noted that: “This partnership is part of UNDP’s support for the local network of the Global Compact, which was launched in Iraq in October last year to promote responsible business practices in the areas of human rights, labour standards, environment and anticorruption. The Global Compact, and these types of partnerships, also provide a useful framework for international oil companies who are operating in Iraq to meet their Corporate Social Responsibility obligations” 

Click here for the full press release in English.

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