Mesopotamian Water Forum
An alternative civil society forum on water resources
in Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran
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 in Spring 2019 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
Registration for the Forum will open in December 2018.
For any inquiries, contact coordinator.en @ savethetigris.org
This announcement can be found in Turkish, Arabic and Farsi at the bottom of this page.
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 300 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.
Call for Contributions
How can we address these challenges?
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, in December 2018. To complete these papers, we will need to include views from different geographical locations and expertise! Are you based in Iraq, Turkey, Syria or Iran? Do you have expertise in water resources? Then your contribution might be valuable. To do so, please read the abstracts below and contact the author via email. Your contribution could be included in the final paper and presented during the Forum! We welcome contributions in English, Arabic, Turkish, Farsi and Kurdish.
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 johncrofot @ yahoo.com
PAPER ON CHALLENGE B – DAMS
The need for basin-wide coordination against dams
Ercan Ayboga, Mesopotamian Ecology Movement
We invite activists, scholars, journalists and others to explore the development of a basin-wide new paradigm in the Mesopotamian Region that provides alternatives against dam construction.
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.
To contribute: please contact the author at mehdiplo @ riseup.net
PAPER ON CHALLENGE C – ECOSYSTEM:
The Tigris-Euphrates River System: A Status Report
Anna Bachmann, Waterkeepers Iraq
We invite activists, scholars, journalists and others with an interest in the ecosystem of the Tigris-Euphrates basin to join us in finding ways to address the unsustainable management of the water resources in the region.
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.
To contribute: please contact the author at bachmanna @ gmail.com
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
Center for Sustainable Development CENESTA, Iran
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
Download the announcement of the Mesopotamian Water Forum in different languages:
Arabic (available soon)
Persian (available soon)