Mesopotamian Water Forum

An alternative civil society forum on water resources

in Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran

6-8 April


University of Sulaimani

Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan Region of Iraq

Promoting water as a tool for

sustainable peace in Mesopotamia

How can we address the water challenges of the region?

3 papers were discussed during the Forum

We identified 3 main water challenges in the region. To kickstart the discussions during the plenary sessions of the Forum, we published 3 papers on these topics in advance of the event. They include views from different geographical locations and expertise.


Water and democracy: Can local communities influence water management in the Tigris-Euphrates River Basins?

John Crofoot, Hasankeyf Matters

This paper outlines some of the mechanisms by which relevant actors (including activists, civil society organizations, social movements, local communities, academics/researchers, municipalities, and regional administrations) can cooperate with governments, large corporations and small/medium-size enterprises (SMEs) to achieve sustainable approaches to water sharing. Some of these methods are cooperative, others oppositional.

Paper Challenge A: Public Participation in Water Management (English)

Notes on the Author: John Crofoot is an independent researcher and writer focusing on business strategy, heritage conservation and uses of public space for recreation. He is the co-founder of Hasankeyf Matters and has lived in Hasankeyf, Turkey, for 4 years.

Questions to be addressed during the forum could include:

– What tools and methods can water rights activists use to hold decision-makers to account for projects that have negative impacts on water resources?

– How have local communities adapted traditional practices to manage shared resources today? Can these practices be adapted to broaden and strengthen stakeholder participation in the design, development, and implementation of water management projects?

– How can stakeholders from different locales across the Tigris-Euphrates basin work together to increase their impact on water management policies? (For example, how can water rights activists develop new fora as a way of addressing imbalances in decision-making processes?)

Abstract Challenge A: Public Participation (English)

Abstract Challenge A: Public Participation (Turkish)

Abstract Challenge A: Public Participation (Arabic)

Abstract Challenge A: Public Participation (Farsi)


Policy and Impacts of Dams in the Tigris and Euphrates Basin

Ercan Ayboga, Mesopotamian Ecology Movement

This paper gives a framework for the analysis of the ecological, social and cultural impacts of dams and other water infrastructure and its political implications for the Mesopotamia Region. it discusses alternatives based on acknowledging rights of people living int he whole basin, as well as the impact on wildlife.

Paper Challenge B: Dams (English)

Notes on the Author: Ercan Ayboga has worked in the provincial administration of Diyarbakir (Amed), Turkey where has coordinating the Tigris River Project in the World Heritage Site Management of the urban area.He is the international coordinator of the Mesopotamian Ecology Movement and is an leading activist of Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive.

Questions to be addressed during the forum could include:

– What are the drivers behind “water nationalism”? Where can water rights activists look for new allies in challenging the use of water to exert political control over others?

– What are the limitations of the UN Convention on Transboundary Watercourses and other agreements governing shared rivers? Can they be made more effective as tools for challenging hydrohegemony?

– What insights can be drawn from historical and current efforts by riverine communities to evolve basinwide collaborative decision-making processes? Where have succeeded and where have they failed; and why? Are regional water parliaments a way forward?

Abstract Challenge B: Dams (English)

Abstract Challenge B: Dams (Turkish)

Abstract Challenge B: Dams (Arabic)

Abstract Challenge B: Dams (Farsi)


The Tigris-Euphrates River System: A Status Report

Anna Bachmann, Waterkeepers Iraq

This paper provides a brief overview of the status and some of the key issues impacting the Tigris-Euphrates ecosystem today from the perspectives of each of the riparian states, the shared cross-border issues that impact this ecosystem, as well as how its overall health influences conditions in the Gulf. Actions necessary to protect the integrity and healthy functions of this ecosystem are discussed with an emphasis on solutions that can be taken
at the local, community level.

Paper Challenge C: Ecosystem (English)

Notes on the Author: Anna Bachmann is the founder and advisor of Waterkeepers Iraq. She spent years in Iraq working on environmental and water issues with Nature Iraq. Today she works as an environmental health specialist in the United States.

Questions to be addressed during the forum could include:

– What are the varied threats to water quality and river health in the Tigris-Euphrates Basins? What is the current status of the key species and important taxa that are unique to these basins and what threats do they face? What issues are specific to the upper vs the lower basin and the Gulf?

– How is climate change impacting the basin today and what will be the long-term trends in the region if action isn’t taken to address global climate change and other basin-wide threats to the ecosystem? What will be the impact on biodiversity? Agriculture? Human health? Riparian functions?

– How is the current management of the Tigris-Euphrates Basins impacting its health and ecosystem functions? What changes in water management at the local, national and regional levels are needed to restore and protect the Basins?

– How can local communities expose the many and varied threats to water quality in the Tigris-Euphrates basin? What tools do they need? What allies can they reach out to?

Abstract Challenge C: Ecosystem (English)

Abstract Challenge C: Ecosystem (Turkish)

Abstract Challenge C: Ecosystem (Arabic)

Abstract Challenge C: Ecosystem (Farsi)


Save the Tigris Campaign, Iraq

Mesopotamian Ecology Movement, Turkey

Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI), Iraq

Humat Dijla (Tigris Keepers), Iraq

Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive, Turkey

Mountainwatch, Iran

DOZ international, Syria

Un Ponte Per, Italy

Corner House, UK

Waterkeepers Iraq, Kurdistan Region of Iraq


Host of the Forum:

Download the announcement of the Mesopotamian Water Forum in different languages: