From 16-17 May 2020 the Virtual Assembly of the Mesopotamian Water Forum took place online, an initiative of Save the Tigris Campaign. With the world in the grip of the Covid-19 crisis, and the countries of the Tigris-Euphrates under lockdown, this 2-day event was an opportunity to connect digitally and express solidarity across the basin countries. More than 1 year after the first Mesopotamian Water Forum was held in Sulaymaniyah (Kurdistan Region of Iraq), water movements and civil society organizations from Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran – the four states of the Tigris-Euphrates basin – took part in 2 days of discussion and debate, joined by other internationals. More than 60 people gathered each day in a video call group to listen and discuss the impacts of the Covid-19 crisis on communities, environmental activism and water infrastructure.
There are 2 big lessons that we took away from the discussions of the Virtual Assembly: First, we aim to organize a second edition of the Mesopotamian Water Forum next year, in 2021. This will be different in the new world, but we know we have the opportunity to exchange and build solidarity digitally. Second, we can connect local communities. Rivers unite, we cannot let them divide. How do we facilitate the sharing of information, sharing of local traditional practices of water management from Iran to Iraq to Turkey to Syria? There is a huge opportunity here. The task now is to keep organizing, stay in touch, and articulate a plan of action for moving forward.