Mesopotamian Water Forum
An alternative civil society forum on water resources
in Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran
University of Sulaimani,
Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan Region of Iraq
Promoting water as a tool for
sustainable peace in Mesopotamia
Water Knows no Boundaries
The Mesopotamian Water Forum is an alternative civil society forum for water, an open space to give voice to those who are marginalized and excluded from the discussion about water management in the Mesopotamian region. It will be held from 6-8 April 2019 at the University of Sulaimani in Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan Region of Iraq, and will involve civil society actors from the entire region of Mesopotamia within the states of Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Syria. The Mesopotamian Water Forum is based on the social forum model, and is part of the global world social forum process. The idea of the forum was launched during a joint meeting of Save the Tigris Campaign in the city of Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan Region if Iraq, in April 2017.
The preliminary program of the first International Mesopotamian Water Forum:
Day 1: Opening and plenary discussions
Day 2: Self-organized workshops by participating organizations
Day 3: Plenary workshops conclusions and final declaration
The Forum will be held in 5 different languages: English, Arabic, Turkish, Farsi and Kurdish. Interpretation will be provided. There is no registration fee.
Registration is open until 15 March 2019
To participate in the Mesopotamian Water Forum, please register below before 15 March 2019. Your attendance will be confirmed by the organisers via email.
Their are two options for participation:
– Attendance of the Forum
– Attendance of the Forum + organizing a workshop on day 2 of the Forum
You can register a workshop for day 2 of the Forum. Topics should fall within in the 3 main categories (“challenges”) and provide a focus on the region. Workshops are self-organized but space and equipment will be available. A workshop should take 1-2 hours. After registration the organizing team will be in touch with you to confirm your attendance and/or your workshop. Please note space is limited.
Please register here
The announcement of this forum can be found in Turkish, Arabic, Kurdish and Farsi at the bottom of this page.
For any inquiries, contact coordinator.en @ savethetigris.org
The Mesopotamian Water Forum is hosted by our partner the University of Sulaimani:
Identity of the Mesopotamian Water Forum
The Forum will provide a space for open and public dialogue about the status and access of bodies of water in the Mesopotamian region, with particular emphasis on the issue of water rights in the Mesopotamian context. The Forum proposes a framework for a water policy which is based on participation, sustainability and other social and ecological principles. We want to foster public debate and encourage broad involvement in initiatives that might be implemented to transform water into an instrument for solidarity and peace, making it a model for the just and fair sharing of resources. We reject the use of water as a tool for oppression, used to entrench inequitable power dynamics that perpetuate ongoing conflicts.
This event will be an important opportunity to promote a society-wide coalition for transboundary water cooperation that includes all relevant actors in the region. Civil society organizations, activists, researchers, academics, journalists, local community representatives and local authorities who share our values and are involved in the struggle for sustainable and participatory water management methods, who support our conviction that water is a tool for solidarity and sustainable peace, are invited to take part in the discussions and actions of this Forum. At least 100 participants from the region and beyond will take part in the 3 days of activities.
We believe the preservation and equal sharing of water resources requires cooperation across Mesopotamia and on global levels. Thus it is crucial to share local knowledge with different parts of the world, and to gain from each other’s experiences. This event aims to gather people from Mesopotamia and beyond the region. Such as diverse group will allow us to come up with effective plans which build on and incorporate different perspectives. This in turn will facilitate actions promoting water as a force for peace among the nations of the Mesopotamian region.
Mesopotamia faces the following water challenges
A. Lack of democratic decision-making processes and water-sharing management at local and regional levels and the privatization of water resources and water infrastructure, which hinder access to water.
B. Construction of large dams and other water infrastructure on the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers and their tributaries which respect neither the rights of people, nor international standards, hereby threatening the cultural and natural heritage of the Tigris-Euphrates Basin. This is exacerbated by the use of water infrastructure as weapon and a tool for achieving political hegemony in regional conflicts.
C. Destruction of the rivers’ ecosystem, including water pollution, unsustainable management of water resources and impact of global climate change.
Following these challenges, our goals are
A. To share and use water resources respecting the principles of equity, effectiveness, participative decision-making, sustainability and accountability.
B. To ensure that watercourses are tools for sustainable peace among all communities in Mesopotamia.
C. To promote sustainable management of our rivers, their ecosystems, biodiversity and our cultural and natural heritage.
How can we address the water challenges of the region?
3 papers will be discussion during the Forum
We have identified 3 main water challenges in the region. To kickstart the discussions during the plenary sessions of the Forum, we will publish 3 papers on these topics in advance of the event, by February 2019. They will include views from different geographical locations and expertise.
PAPER ON CHALLENGE A – PUBLIC PARTICIPATION:
Water and democracy: Can local communities influence water management in the Tigris-Euphrates River Basins?
John Crofoot, Hasankeyf Matters
We invite activists, scholars, journalists and others with an interest in public participation and water rights in the Tigris-Euphrates basin to join us in exploring various opportunities for broadening stakeholder participation in water resource management. We also invite stories and reflections on the struggle to democratize water resource management.
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.
To contribute: please contact the author at johncrofoot @ yahoo.com
PAPER CHALLENGE B – DAMS
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.
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?
PAPER CHALLENGE C – ECOSYSTEM:
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.
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?
SUPPORTERS OF THE FORUM
The Save the Tigris and Iraqi Marshes Campaign, Iraq
Mesopotamian Ecology Movement, Turkey
Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI), Iraq
Humat Dijla (Tigris Keepers), Iraq
Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive, Turkey
DOZ international, Syria
Un Ponte Per, Italy
Corner House, UK
Gegenstroemung (Counter Current), Germany
Waterkeepers Iraq, Kurdistan Region of Iraq
Association for Water and Forest Studies FIVAS, Norway
Host of the Forum:
Download the announcement of the Mesopotamian Water Forum in different languages: