Welcome to the page of the Save the Tigris and Iraqi Marshes Campaign!

This page provides the latest campaign updates in short, an outline of the campaign, and more information. For full news and articles, please click on “Save the Tigris and Marshes” in the Quick Overview Menu on the right.

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 Latest Campaign Updates

*28 October 2016: A report is released by the Save the Tigris Campaign on the impact of the Daryan Dam, currently under construction in Iran, on the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The report is primarily based on new research and was presented at the Norwegian Social Forum in Oslo.

*23 September 2016: At the Iraqi Social Forum in Baghdad, activists hold a seminar on the followup procedures after the inscription of the Marshes in the World Heritage List.

*1 August 2016: Baghdad activists celebrate the inscription of the Marshes in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

*16 June 2016: A Great Achievement After 4 years of Campaigning: The Marshes of Iraq Inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage! UNESCO named the Iraqi marshlands as a world heritage site! The area named “is made up of seven sites: three archaeological sites and four wetland marsh areas in southern Iraq

*8-9 June 2016: At the conclusion of this year’s annual conference of World Heritage Watch in Istanbul, civil society organizations presented their list of resolutions. These were submitted to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee (WHC), which took place from 10-20 July 2016 in Istanbul. The resolutions included a particular recommendation for the WHC State members to vote for inclusion of the Iraqi Marshes in the UNESCO World Heritage List. During the conference, the Campaign conducted a presentation on the work of Iraqi civil society for a sustainable development of the Marshlands

*2-3 July 2016: Iraqi academics in London host the conference ‘Water Resources in Iraq: the Challenges and Solutions’ during which the Save the Tigris Campaign talks about the challenges faced by the campaign.

*26-27 June 2016: In a training in Erbil from 26-27 June, a new group of Iraqi youth activists of the campaign participated together with other Iraqi as well as international activists on the urgency of protecting Iraq’s water resources. The training was followed by a fact-finding mission with international activists of the campaign and the new partner Waterkeepers Iraq in Iraqi Kurdistan.

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Workshop in Erbil

*June 2016: In cooperation with the University of Salah Aldin and the Save the Tigris and Iraqi Marshes Campaign, Al-Messala Organization held a seminar on the subject of large dams and their negative impact on humans, environment and biodiversity.

*May 2016: The Iraqi Social Forum and the Save the Tigris Campaign participate in the “ I Have Hope” festival on the Al-Aimmah Bridge, Baghdad.

*7-8 May 2016: Tigris River Valley Symposium in Batman, Turkey. The Save the Tigris Campaign was present in order to express its solidarity with the people of Hasankeyf and to strengthen the forces that oppose Ilisu Dam. In a panel presentation, the case of the Iraqi Marshes, the magnitude of Ilisu Dam’s impact on Iraq and the advocacy efforts of the campaign were presented and discussed with the audience

*8 April 2016: “Humat Dijla” Festival is held in Baghdad in the framework of the International Day of Action for Rivers, organized by activists of the campaign.

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Humat Dijla Festival in Baghdad

*12-14 February 2016: International and Iraqi activists of the campaign gather in Istanbul for an ICSSI workshop to discuss a 2-year action plan.

*December 2015: Save the Tigris Campaign attends the COP21 in Paris.

*19-21 November 2015: For three days, Iraqi youth activists of the Save the Tigris and Iraqi Marshes Campaign camped in the Marshes of Al-Chibayish in Al-Nasiriyah province, from 19-21 November. The goal was to get familiar with the current reality of the Marshes, and the ongoing water crisis.

*1-3 October 2015:  Baghdad, Iraq Save the Tigris and Iraqi Marshes Campaign participated at the Iraqi Social Forum holding a session on the issue of water and the Ilisu dam.

*27-30 September 2015: Review of Iraq on the Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights in Geneva, Switzerland. The Save the Tigris River and Iraqi Marshes Campaign sent a representative to Geneva, where the UN Expert’s Committee Members on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will listen to the position of the campaign as they review the report of the State of Iraq. Members submitted observations and recommendations to the Iraqi government. Read the report here.

*28 June 2015: Bonn, Germany: World Heritage Committee Meeting. An action was done in front of the annual conference opening of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) of UNESCO in Bonn/Germany. The participants demanded to list Hasankeyf (Turkish-Kurdistan) and the Iraqi Marshes on the World Heritage List and to stop the Ilisu Dam at the Tigris River.

* Watch the following video, published by our campaign; “The Iraqi Marshes: Beauty and Civilization in Danger”.

*9-12 May 2015: A strategy meeting is held in Erbil, Iraq, with Iraqi and international activists of the campaign. This was followed by advocacy meetings with Kurdish authorities and NGOs, and a press conference.

*March 2015: The Save the Tigris Campaign conducts a session on the water crisis in Syria and Iraq and presents in an important session on watergrabbing.

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* Climate Change in Iraq: A Map of Climate Change in Iraq, look to the different climate change challenges that Iraq faces.The following map is part of an effort to map climate change impacts in Iraq. It shows different Iraqi cities and the corresponding climate change challenges. It contains pictures as well as other links to reports and additional information from different sources. (Note: To see the map in full screen, please click on the upper right square)

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Outline of the Save the Tigris and Iraqi Marshes Campaign

Who we are: Save the Tigris and the Iraqi Marshes is an advocacy campaign that was started in March 2012 by a coalition of civil society organizations from Iraq, Turkey and Iran. The campaign is part of an international effort to Save the World Heritage on the Tigris River from the impacts of large dams. In particular Ilisu Dam, a hydroelectric project being constructed on the Tigris River by the Turkish government.

Our Challenge: The campaign seeks to link groups and movements concerned with the adverse impacts of dams and other projects on the Trigris and Euphrates, including dams in Turkey and Iran, in order to press for policies that secure the sustainable and equitable use of water for all who live in the region, including opposing the privatisation and commodification of water supplies. The initial focus of the campaign was the protection of Hasankeyf, the ancient settlement located in the southeast Turkey, and the Marshlands of Mesopotamia in south Iraq. Recently, following the security crisis in Iraq and the broader region, the scope of the campaign has been expanded to include the protection of Iraqi water infrastructure in times of conflict, and to guarantee the access to safe water to all people of Iraq.

Objectives of the Campaign: The campaign works to draw attention to the negative impact of large dams and in particular Ilisu Dam, the need for sustainable water policies, and to develop advocacy and awareness activities that involve all relevant actors: local communities; civil society organisations; media; national and local institutions; societies of experts and intellectuals; research centres; universities and others.

Read/download our Terms of Reference (updated: February 2015)

The current members of the Save the Tigris and Iraqi Marshes Campaign:

Iraq: Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI)Iraqi People’s Campaign to Save the Tigris, Tammuz Organization for Social Development, All Mesalla, Iraqi Social Forum, Ma’aluma (Information Center), Humat Dijla, Waterkeepers Iraq

Turkey: Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive 

Iran: Alpine Club of Iran/Mountain Watch

International: Un Ponte Per… (Italy), Corner House (UK), Gegenstroemung/Countercurrent (Germany), Environmental Defenders Law Center (US), Association for Water and Forest Studies/FIVAS (Norway)

Save the Tigris Campaign Press Conference in Erbil, May 12 2015. Nick Hildyard from Cornerhouse, Johanna Rivera from Save the Tigris Campaign, Salar Ahmed from Al-Mesalla and Toon Bijnens from Save the Tigris Campaign.

Save the Tigris Campaign Press Conference in Erbil, May 12 2015. Nick Hildyard from Cornerhouse, Johanna Rivera from Save the Tigris Campaign, Salar Ahmed from Al-Mesalla and Toon Bijnens from Save the Tigris Campaign.

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Ways you can get involed

  • You can join the campaign as an organization or individual
  • Read about the impact of the Ilisu Dam and the threats other large dams pose to Iraq. Our aim is to make this information easily available. Go to our Resources and Documents page.
  • Stay up to date with Latest News about our actions and about the  Tigris River
  • You can like and share our Campaign Page on Facebook and share it with friends
  • Watch and share our Youtube video to promote the preservation of the Marshes. Also available in Arabic.
  • Follow our Twitter hash-tag: #Save_Tigris

Contact the Steering Committee for any further inquiries. Send an email to the Campaign Coordinator: coordinator.en@savethetigris.org

If you would like to have the information on this page in Arabic, you can also use the following link: عربي 

Marsh Arabs protest against Ilisu Dam in Hasankeyf, Turkey, May 2012

Marsh Arabs protest against Ilisu Dam in Hasankeyf, Turkey, May 2012

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Previous events in 2013-14 of the Save the Tigris and Iraqi Marshes Campaign

* 27-29 October 2014: The Save the Tigris Campaign conducts a strategy session with Iraqi, Turkish and international activists at the 2014 Conference of the Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI) in Oslo.

* 15 July 2014: In light of the current conflict in Iraq, a statement is issued in which the campaign calls upon all parties involved not to use water and related infrastructure as a weapon of war, and to protect civilians’ right to water.

* 10 May 2014: The legal strategy of the campaign is presented in Sulaymaniya at the fifth conference of the Ekopotamya Network, an international coalition of Kurdish environmental organizations who advocate against dams.

* 5 May 2014: In Duhok, located near the Tigris River, the campaign conducts several seminars for students of Duhok University to inform and mobilize them on the issue of Ilisu Dam.

Seminar in Duhok in May 2014

Seminar in Duhok in May 2014

* 2 April 2014: The campaign issued a Legal Policy Paper, which was presented to the Iraqi Government during the March 22 seminar in Baghdad. The paper discusses the legal possibilities available to Iraq to respond to the threat posed by the Ilisu Dam. It is available for download on our website.

* 22 March 2014: In Baghdad, the Iraqi Social Forum and the Save the Tigris and Iraqi Marshes Campaign, in cooperation with the Baghdad Provincial Council, held a seminar  “Saving the Tigris is Your Duty and Mine” to discuss Iraq’s national water policy, with a focus on the issue of Ilisu Dam. Representatives of various Iraqi ministries attended the seminar.

Baghdad event 22-03-2014

Baghdad seminar on 22 March 2014

* 22 March 2014: Basra activists World Water Day at the corniche of the Shatt al-Arab in Basra. They demanded the government and civil society to take action against the Ilisu Dam.

* 14 March 2014: On the occassion of the International Day of Action for Rivers, the  Save the Tigris Campaign organized two events, in Baghdad and in Sulaymaniya, to spread awareness on the issue of the Ilisu Dam.

* 15-16 February 2014: The Save the Tigris Campaign participated in an international workshop in Basra, organized by the University of Basra in collaboration with the Province of Basra. National and international experts, such as academics, consultants and governmental advisors, discussed their experiences and possible solutions to the city’s persisting salinity crisis. Four key topics were addressed during the workshop, among which “Tigris-Euphrates Rivers Basin dialogue”.

Basra workshop on 15 February 2014

Basra workshop on 15 February 2014

27 September 2013: The Save the Tigris Campaign organized the session: “Water Crisis between Iraq and Neighboring Countries: The Ilisu Dam, Exploring Legal Strategies in Iraq” at the Iraq Social Forum in Baghdad. The aim of this session was to discuss legal instruments available inside Iraq and elsewhere to protect Iraq’ s right to water and the equitable shares of the Tigris River with Turkey. International activists and Iraqi lawyers attended the session, analyzed legal instruments and proposed ways to advocate the Iraqi government to increase their efforts to demand Iraq’s right to water.

Find the full program of the Iraq Social Forum (ISF) here.

Activists of the Save the Tigris Campaign meet with the Baghdad Provincial Council at the Iraq Social Forum, 27 September 2013.

Activists of the Save the Tigris Campaign meet with the Baghdad Provincial Council at the Iraq Social Forum, 27 September 2013.

27-30 June 2013: The Save the Tigris Campaign held seminars in four provinces in South Iraq: Basra, Misan, Dhi Qar and Qadissiya, with the support of local civil society and activists. The seminars were held in Basra (June 27), Amara (June 28), Nasirya (June 29) and Diwaniya (June 30).
Seminar in Basra, 27 June 2013.

Seminar in Basra, 27 June 2013.

In Missan with the local volunteer group, Ana Missan Team, 28 June 2013.

In Missan with the local volunteer group, Ana Missan Team, 28 June 2013.

Seminar in Nasriya, 29 June 2013.

Seminar in Nasriya, 29 June 2013.

Seminar in Diwaniya, 30 June 2013.

Seminar in Diwaniya, 30 June 2013.

21 May 2013: In Hasankeyf, Turkey, representatives of dam-affected communities and international organizations from South America, the Middle East, Europe, the US, and Africa blocked the entrance to the construction site of the Ilisu dam in southeast Turkey demanding an end to the controversial development of the project.
See also the articles from Damocracy and International Rivers. All participated in the action.
International activists in Hasankeyf, Turkey

International activists in Hasankeyf, Turkey

19 May 2013: The Save the Tigris Campaign held a seminar in Amman, Jordan, on ‘The Water Crisis in Iraq, the Model of Ilisu Dam and the Role of Social Movements’.
Session in Amman, 19 May 2013.

Session in Amman, 19 May 2013.

Watch the report on Jordan television: “Water Crisis in Iraq” (in Arabic)

12 April 2013: The Campaign held a presentation in Baghdad, coinciding with a press release. The event was organized in cooperation with the People of Iraq’s Campaign to Save the Tigris and Koun Association for Human Development.

Find the press release in Arabic here.

Event on April 12th The Tigris for us, organized by the People of Iraq Campaign to Save the Tigris and Koun Association for Human Development on the banks of the Tigris river, with artists, musicians, journalists and representatives of the Ministry of Water Resources in Baghdad.

Event on April 12th The Tigris for us, organized by the People of Iraq Campaign to Save the Tigris and Koun Association for Human Development on the banks of the Tigris river, with artists, musicians, journalists and representatives of the Ministry of Water Resources in Baghdad.

5-8 April 2013: The campaign joined the 3rd Hasankeyf Ingathering, hosted jointly by by Doga Dernegi, Hasankeyf Matters and Nature Iraq. The ingathering is meant to promote Hasankeyf’s potential as a world class tourism site, but most importantly, to link locals and internationals together to share ideas on how to make the issue of Hasankeyf, under threat by the Ilisu Dam, known to the rest of the world and to present Hasankeyf as a source for scholarship, cross-cultural understanding and sustainable economic development.

Breakfast at Hasbace in Hasankeyf. People from Turkey, Iraq and other visitors gathered to share and support Hasankeyf.

Breakfast at Hasbace in Hasankeyf. People from Turkey, Iraq and other visitors gathered to share and support Hasankeyf.

1 April 2013: The Save the Tigris Campaign participates in the Mesopotamian Marshes Green Festival in Chibayish, Nasriyah. Organized by Nature Iraq.

Women boat races at the Chibayish Green Festival.

Women boat races at the Chibayish Green Festival.

29 March 2013: At the World Social Forum in Tunis, the Save the Tigris Campaign held a session together Blue Planet Project, Kurdish Network, Plataforma Institucional de Celendín. The topic of the session was “Global Solidarity Against Water Grabs by Dams and Mining Projects: Case Studies from India, Iraq, Kurdistan, Peru and Mexico“.

Global solidarity against Ilisu and other dams at the World Social Forum 2013 in Tunis.

Global solidarity against Ilisu and other dams at the World Social Forum 2013 in Tunis.

22 March 2013: An Open Letter to Andritz, the Austrian company responsible for the construction of the Ilisu Dam, is released by the Save the Tigris Campaign, on the disastrous impacts of Ilisu Dam for Iraq.

14 March 2013: On the occasion of the International Day of Action for Rivers, the Save the Tigris Campaign in cooperation with the People’s of Iraq Campaign to Save the Tigris raised awareness on the issue of Ilisu in al Mutannabi Street in Baghdad.

News Article on International Rivers

Baghdad's Al-Mutannabi Street on the International Day of Action for Rivers, 14 March 2013.

Baghdad’s Al-Mutannabi Street on the International Day of Action for Rivers, 14 March 2013.