ICSSI wants to announce that it has a new global partner for our Save the Tigris and Mesopotamia Campaign: 350.org. 350.org works to build a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis. They work through online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions that are led from the bottom up by thousands of volunteer organizers in over 188 countries. Currently, they have launched a global campaign and petition to end fossil fuel subsidies. On June 18th, they’re inviting the world to storm the web and demand an end to fossil fuel subsidies now! The massive 24-hour international “twitterstorm” – using the #EndFossilFuelSubsidies hashtag – will aim at increasing pressure on world leaders to cut nearly $1 trillion in fossil fuel subsidies at the upcoming Rio+20 Earth Summit. Here is the twitter storm information in Arabic and English. In Iraq, 350.org has a local group in Suleimaniya: Development Now started by students of the American University in Suleimaniya (AUIS) and has organized activities locally to raise awareness about climate change. 350.org has invited all their partners to sign ICSSI’s Save Tigris Campaign, so in that same spirit we invite all our members to support the 350.org campaign to end fossil fuel subsidiesand invest in clean energy and their efforts to fight climate change.
So, how has Iraq suffered the impacts of climate change? Iraq is considered one of the Arab region’s most vulnerable countries to climate change. It faces a unique set of environmental challenges; water scarcity, drought, and desertification. One of Iraq’s main challenges is to adapt to the increasing variability of the country’s climate, especially in terms of water supply. Iraq relies on precipitation falling outside its borders for more than half of its water. The Tigris and Euphrates rivers, both of which originate in Turkey are the main sources of Iraqi water but in recent years new Turkish dams have blocked the flow of water to the country. Likewise, Iranian dams have cut down water supplies flowing into the country resulting in the loss of key farming and drinking water. As a result, Iraq now ranks number 5 in the list of countries vulnerable to water scarcity, much to say about a country that once was the cradle of civilization and agriculture. The northern autonomous region of Kurdistan is not exempt from water issues. Drought and the lack of rain in the Kurdistan region and Iraq in general have led to low water levels in the Dukan Lake. In addition, the water level of the Little Zab river, which originates from the Iranian land and flows into the Dukan Lake, also fell considerably. Further downstream, the marshlands which support fishery resources that account for 60% of Iraq’s fish catch have shown a 50% decline due to extensive upstream damming and water diversion projects. For example, the Ilisu Dam threatens the current marshes restoration process and will lead to further droughts that will result in habitat loss, wildlife decline and extinction, population migration, community unemployment and will violate the rights of thousands of indigenous people. ICSSI along with civil society organizations in Iran, Iraq and Turkey have started a campaign to Save the Tigris and the Mesopotamian Marshes. The campaign that started online and has reached more than 28,000 signatures and now has extended to local grassroots initiatives Baghdad, Suleimaniya are collecting signatures to deliver a petition to UNESCO to prioritize the submission of the Central Marshes as a World Heritage Site. The Iraqi government has initiated the process but the submission will not be completed after 2 years. The Ilisu Dam threatens the marshes and in 2 years there will not be anything left to present to the World Heritage Committee. The other component of the campaign is an open letter to Andritz, the Austrian company part of the consortium building the Ilisu dam. The letter calls the company to withdraw from the project that violates international law until negotiations on equitable shares on the Tigris are agreed with riparian countries. To join in the campaign or to organize signature collection events, contact ICSSI, in Suleimaniya: Johanna L. Rivera at email@example.com and in Baghdad: Nadia Baghdadi at firstname.lastname@example.org, for more information write to us at email@example.com