- This research is conducted to contribute to the enhancement of the transboundary water cooperation in the Euphrates and Tigris Basin. The main research questions answered are: “Is operationality of the transboundary water cooperation adequate to address the problems of the ET Basin and to reach sustainable development goals that are set by the United Nations?” and if not, “What are the root causes that are hindering the formation of operational transboundary water cooperation among riparian countries of the ET Basin?”.
Hence, in first main part of this thesis, three different methods with different approaches to the definition of operationality to measure and display existing cooperation from different perspectives are explained. Then, operational transboundary water cooperation in the ET Basin is measured with these multi-method approaches to see where riparian countries are in terms of cooperation and point out the inadequacy of the existing cooperation. Estimated results from different methods pointed out the inadequacy of the current cooperation to reach sustainable development goals in the ET Basin.
In the second main part, the Cynefin framework, which is used to craft a situation map for the ET Basin, is introduced and explained. Later, problems of the ET Basin are placed in the appropriate domains of the situation map by displaying the interconnectedness of the problems and feedback mechanisms within and among domains to identify the root causes that are hindering the formation of operational transboundary water cooperation and the right approaches (offered by each domain) for their solutions as well. The root problems that hinder operational transboundary water cooperation in the ET Basin are identified as lack of communication, trust, and common terminology among riparian countries in the complex domain of the situation map. Then, it is concluded that once problems in the complex domain are solved, the problems in other domains can be handled as well. The approach offered by the Cynefin framework for the solutions of the problems in the complex domain is “probe-sense-respond”.
In the third main part, systems thinking, which is in harmony with “probe-sense-respond” method, is offered as a management and mediation/facilitation tool. The capability of systems thinking is assessed to improve communication, build trust, and form a common terminology by evaluating its concepts and structure for the purpose of addressing inadequate transboundary water cooperation in the ET Basin. Furthermore, recommendations for policy-makers are made based on the current situation of the ET Basin and guidance of the systems thinking to reach enduring outcomes more efficiently.
Lastly, in the final chapter, a brief summary and overall conclusions are given and two important questions that might come into minds after reading main parts are answered: “Why would riparian countries cooperate by taking a different position than they historically did?” and “Who would lead the mediation/facilitation process?”.
Keywords: Transboundary water cooperation in Tigris and Euphrates Basin, Non-water-related risks and opportunities to cooperate, Systems thinking, Joint management, Mediation/Facilitation