Who We Are
Save the Tigris started as a civil society initiative in March 2012 by a coalition of Mesopotamian and international social and environmental activists to save the natural and cultural heritage on the Tigris River from the impacts of dams and other destructive megaprojects.
In recent times, the water resources of Mesopotamia have been weaponised and the rivers of Mesopotamia have become strategic assets over which states and other actors assert hegemony. Megaprojects have continued to receive strong support in the region without any assessment on their impact. The Turkish government is constructing a number of large dams on the Tigris River without any consultation with the Iraqi government and local communities. Iran is building number of dams and implementing water-transfer projects on rivers that are tributaries of the Tigris River. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and central government of Iraq continue to build dams with no effective studies on their impacts.
Water infrastructure has been used for political and military purposes in conflicts. The use of water resources needs to respect the well-established international norms on uses of international watercourses, specifically the principles of equitable and reasonable utilization; participation; and the obligation not to cause significant harm to those who depends upon the water. Additionally the water resources of the Mesopotamia have been degraded by pollution, drought and climate change. For decades, water politics in the region has been based on over-exploitation, extraction and competition over resources without acknowledgment of access to water as a human right.
Save the Tigris believes a paradigm shift is necessary: instead of being a source of rivalry, water should be a force for peace and cooperation between all the countries and peoples of the Tigris-Euphrates basin. We advocate for safe access to water for all the people of the Mesopotamian region, and policies that secure the sustainable and equitable use of water for all those who live in Mesopotamia and for the coming generations. Our advocacy and awareness activities involve all relevant actors: local communities, civil society organizations, media, authorities, academics, research centres and others.
We provide a network where civil society organizations from the Mesopotamian Region and international civil society organizations can mobilize together, express their solidarity and exchange knowledge and experiences to work on our objectives together within the framework of environmental peacebuilding.
Read our Terms of Reference here.
An overview of our campaign members can be found below.
We are a civil society advocacy platform aiming to promote water justice in the Mesopotamian basin. Save the Tigris seeks to link groups and movements from Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran concerned with the protection of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Our platform provides international solidarity and supports the exchange of knowledge. We advocate for policies that secure ecological justice including the equitable and democratic use of water for all who live in the Mesopotamian region, promoting water as a tool for peace.
1. Protecting the right to water and practice democratic participatory decision-making over water management
1.1 Foster joint decision-making and solidarity between movements across the region through the Mesopotamian Water Forum
1.2 Sharing best practices, experiences and transfer knowledge on bottom-up approaches to water management between communities, civil society and activists of the region.
1.3. Promote and advocate for local control of water resources decision-making
2. Shared water resources become a tool for lasting peace between the different communities of the region
2.1 To advocate on national and international level for the protection of water infrastructure in times of conflict and for sustainable policies that protect the rivers of Mesopotamia, taking into account water scarcity and guaranteeing safe access to water for all Iraqis.
2.2 To promote cooperation between people in the Mesopotamian region over the shared water resources in order to create a lasting peace through dialogue and activities that involve environmental activists, civil society and communities across the region. This includes the Mesopotamian Water Forum.
2.3 To promote transboundary water cooperation and management including rivers, wetlands, lakes.
3. Water management policies and projects are socially and ecologically just and build resilient and equitable societies in Mesopotamia.
3.1 To advocate at the national and international level to halt the construction and mitigate the impacts of large dams in Iraq, Turkey, Iran and Syria.
3.2 To continue dialogue with the Iraqi government about the destructive socioeconomic, cultural and environmental impact of megaprojects. We advocate that the Iraqi government develops policies that address transboundary water issues and negotiates with riparian states in accordance with international law and to apply the articles 5, 6 and 7 of the 1997 International Convention to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
3.3. To encourage Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran to sign agreements that establish a fair share of water between riparian states, and emphasize the integrity of the river ecosystem.
3.4 To raise awareness among communities in the region and internationally about the socioeconomic, environmental and cultural impacts of large megaprojects and the need to protect the Tigris-Euphrates Rivers.
4. The region has adapted to the reality of climate change and contributes to address the root causes of climate change.
4.1 To advocate for sound climate adaptation policies with policymakers across the Mesopotamian region.
4.2. Foster awareness among communities, policymakers on the structural causes and impacts of climate change.
4.3 Document the impacts of climate change on water resources and local communities in the region.
4.4. Work in solidarity with social movements advocating for a just transition away from fossil fuels.
5. The cultural and natural heritage of the Tigris-Euphrates basin is preserved on the basis of a common Mesopotamian identity
5.1 To demand that the Iraqi government, UNESCO and its supporting organizations work actively, transparently and in a timely manner to protect cultural heritage sites in Iraq, particularly the Iraqi Marshes.
5.2 To spread awareness internationally on the cultural and natural heritage of Mesopotamia.
5.3 To provide solidarity and support to movements across Mesopotamia protecting heritage sites along the Tigris-Euphrates Rivers endangered by megaprojects, water scarcity, pollution and other threats.
6. All Mesopotamian water resources are drinkable, fishable and swimmable
6.1 To demand that the Iraqi, Turkish, Syrian and Iranian governments adhere to international law which guarantees access to water for all Iraqis, and manages its water resources sustainably.
6.2 To document and draw attention to the pollution of the Tigris River and its tributaries.
The current members of Save the Tigris:
Ma’aluma Information Center
Mesopotamian Ecology Movement
Al Firat Center
1016EA Amsterdam, Netherlands
Contact us at coordinator @ savethetigris.org
Some of our past and present donors: