Articles by the campaign, Save the Tigris

Countdown to Mesopotamian Water Forum 2019: What Are the Threats to Water Quality and River Health in the Tigris-Euphrates Basin?

From 6-8 April 2019 the 1st Mesopotamian Water Forum will take place at the University of Sulaimani, Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan Region of Iraq. A unique

By coordinator

From 6-8 April 2019 the 1st Mesopotamian Water Forum will take place at the University of Sulaimani, Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan Region of Iraq. A unique space for open and public dialogue about the status and access of bodies of water in the Mesopotamia. This event will be an important opportunity to promote a society-wide coalition for transboundary water cooperation that includes all relevant actors from Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran. To kickstart the discussions in advance of the Forum, we will publish 3 papers on what we regard as the main challenges in the Tigris-Euphrates basin. The aim is to foster public debate and encourage broad involvement in a discussion to transform water into an instrument for solidarity and peace. To attend the Forum, please register here before 15 March 2019.

Challenge: Ecosystem

– 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?

The Tigris-Euphrates River System: A Status Report

Paper for the Mesopotamian Water Forum by Anna Bachmann, Virginia Tice, Laith Ali Al-Obeidi, Dicle Tuba Kilıç

March 2019


The ecosystem that makes up the Tigris-Euphrates River Basin provides the foundation upon which the biological diversity, economic productivity, human health, and cultural resources of the states of Turkey, Iran, Syria, and Iraq are based. But the health and vitality of the Tigris-Euphrates ecosystem is greatly impacted by water pollution, unsustainable management of the basin’s hydrological systems, and climate change. This paper provides an overview of the current status of the basin as well as key issues from both the state and transboundary level.The first section covers the water resources, discussing the status of groundwater, water quality, infrastructure development, water resource management, and regional cooperation. The second section covers biodiversity, providing an overview of the status of a number of key species and issues impacting the biological diversity of the basin. The third section reviews two out of the many important Ecosystem Services of the Basin: agriculture and fisheries/aquaculture. Thefinal section covers climate change impacts to the Basin. Taken together, these issues provide the framework in which regional water rights advocates must engage to develop an active civil society response to the challenges facing the Tigris-Euphrates Basin Ecosystem.

Read the Full Paper Here

We invite you to the Mesopotamian Water Forum to come and explore the development of a basin-wide new paradigm in the Mesopotamian region that explores restoration of health and ecosystem functions of the Tigris-Euphrates basin. To attend, please register here. For more information please visit the webpage.