|Senior Fellow, Iraq Energy Institute|
Dr. Azzam Alwash was born in Kut, Iraq in 1958 and left to the United States in 1978 where he completed his graduate work with a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from the University of Southern California in 1988. He practiced in the environmental and geotechnical field for over 20 years.
He started Eden Again, a program to put the spotlight on the drying of the marshes of southern Iraq, under the auspices of the Free Iraq Foundation, where he is a member of the board of directors. After the removal of Saddam Hussien, he moved back to Iraq to work on the restoration of the marshes and founded Nature Iraq, an Iraqi NGO focusing on the preservation of the environment of Iraq and its cultural heritage. of southern Iraq, an effort that earned him the Takreem award in 2011 and The Goldman Environmental Prize for the 2013. The story of the restoration is told in a book titled Eden Again: Hope in the marshes of Iraq, and a scientific summary of the data collected on bio diversity of Iraq over the past 15 years by scientists associated with Nature Iraq was published in a book titled Key BioDviserty Areas of Iraq.
In 2006, and in recognition of the need of Iraq to improve its undergraduate education, he became a founding member of the board of trustees of the American University of Iraq – Sulaimani. The mission of the university is to be the builder of the future leadership of Iraq and the region through the use of the liberal arts. While achieving their academic goals, students who represent the mosaic of Iraq are interacting and forming life long friendships through living together and sharing hardships as well having honest discussions about the modern and ancient history of the region. The first graduating class was in 2011 and the university now has some 1400 students with plans to expand to a 5000 students population.
Dr. Alwash is working now on issues of water and the environment through Nature Iraq and American University to promote the idea of cooperation on water management and making water an instrument of peace rather than the source of tension in the future middle east.