Urban historic quarters in Iraq are in a dilapidated state due to the concurrence of critical legal gaps and institutional failings that affect most of Iraq’s unique urban heritage. Their conservation and development is an opportunity to increase jobs and revenue and to reduce unemployment and poverty in cities. LADP supported the drafting of an integrated Conservation and Development Plan for the Historic Quarters of Basra. This offers to Local and National Authorities a demonstration pilot of how rehabilitation of urban heritage can become a pillar of the region’s overall growth-enhancing strategy.

Developing the Plan took nearly two years of field work, research, dozens of interviews and intensive consultations with local officials (Basra Governorate, Provincial Council, Municipality, and Planning, Urban Planning and Utilities Directorates), heritage experts (State Board of Antiquities and Heritage – SBAH, Faculty of Arts of Basra University), NGOs and community members. Advancing participatory integrated multi-sectoral planning approach, the LADP/UN-Habitat team delivered nine structured learning-by-doing workshops, reaching a total of 145 participants. The workshops focused on the development ‘pillars’ of the plan: legal framework, institutional setup, basic infrastructure, housing, living conditions, physical rehabilitation, culture and environment. For each pillar, ‘anchors’ were identified for targeted projects and investments that build on the potential of the area and the residential community.

The proposed Plan provides recommendations and identifies priority actions in three interrelated areas: (1) Institutional development and legislation; (2) Physical rehabilitation and upgrading; and (3) Socio-economic and cultural development. As such, the Plan provides a roadmap for Local Authorities to activate cultural patrimony in Basra as a pillar of the local growth-enhancing strategy. It additionally provides an important base and resource for specialised agencies, such as UNESCO, to embark on related rehabilitation projects.

The Plan supports the implementation of the New Urban Agenda or sustainable urbanisation in Iraq and the attainment of the SDGs.