On the March 14 International Day of Action for Rivers, Tibetan Women’s Association rejoice this day to remember the significance of Rivers in Tibet, lift our voices to celebrate rivers around the world and solute those who struggle to protect them. Tibet is the source for many of Asia’s principal rivers and the end of those same rivers lie the world’s largest deltas. Nearly 2 billion people depend on Tibet’s water for fishing, agriculture, industry and for drinking.
Chinese occupation of Tibet is not only destroying our culture and religion but they are destroying our land and water ways by pollution, diversion and damming.
On this International Day of Action for Rivers, we join the campaign ‘Rivers are in our hand’ to promote the importance of rivers and urge you all to unite, we demonstrate that this issue is not merely local, but global in scope. We have the power to protect these vital lifelines if we join together and act.
To mark the ‘World Rivers Day’, Women’s Environment and Development Desk (WEDD) of the Central Tibetan Women’s Association organized a public seminar on Tibet’s River and its importance for Asia’s sustainability. This event was aimed to inform and spread awareness about the importance of the rivers in Tibet and the adverse effects of climate change on the roof of the world. Not many people are aware of this critical issue and hence we felt the need of a public awareness event within our own community. Yet many foreign friends also turned up for the event.
Millions of people around the world participated in the ninth annual World Rivers Day on Sunday, and we are so glad to be a part of this huge campaign.
“I have traveled on several rivers in and around Tibet and your event is very timely and important. Rivers are integral to all life and yet many waterways continue to be impacted by inappropriate practices and inadequate protection,” a message from Mark Angelo, Rivers Day Chair and Founder and Chair Emeritus of the Rivers Institute at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT).
Our first speaker Tenzin Norbu (Mr.), (Head of the Environment and Development office of CTA) spoke on ‘Tibet’s Rivers and their significance for Asia’s sustainability’. He also stressed on the increasing number of dams being built and planned in Tibet. As of now in Tibet, around 160 dams are in planning stage and many are already built. He added that China’s destructive policies towards Tibet’s ecosystem are going to affect not only Tibet but all the ten down steam nations including China.
Dhardon Sharling (Ms.) (Member of Tibetan Parliament in Exile and Co-chair of International Tibet Network) addressed about international campaigns for the protection of Tibet’s rivers and the importance of finding a tangible solution to the crisis, mutually by all the downstream nations. She also pointed that even though we are little late in realising the importance of this issue, there is so much we can do individually and institutionally.
We also screened 3 documentary films on Tibet’s ecosystem; ‘Melt down in Tibet’ by renowned film maker Michael Buckley, ‘Save Tibet Third Pole’ and ‘Achi Dokmo’ both are productions of the Tibetan Women’s Association.
Scientists have referred to the Tibetan Plateau and surrounding mountains as The Third Pole; the area holds the largest ice masses on Earth outside of the polar regions. The Tibetan Plateau contains more than 46,000 glaciers (which cover an area of 105,000 sq.km). Originating from these glaciers are Asia’s largest rivers such as the Yangtze, Yellow River, Mekong, Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra. Nine downstream nations in Asia depend on these rivers. Including the nations of China and India, over a third of the world’s population depends on these rivers.
With this event, we want to request every individual to take the responsibility and be aware of such environmental issues especially Tibet’s ecosystem. Along with Tibet’s political issues, it is very important that we keep ourselves updated regarding Tibet’s environment.
c/o International Tibet Network
1310 Fillmore Street, #401
CA 94115, USA
22 March 2013
To: Environment Ministers of the Governments of India, Pakistan, Cambodia, Laos, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Burma, Thailand and Vietnam.
cc Mrs Irina Bokuva, Director General, UNESCO
Today is World Water Day 2013 in the United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation. We are writing to share our concerns about the impact of China’s policies – especially its dam-building programme – on Asia’s regional water security, and to urge your government to join forces with other downstream nations to pressure China to enter into appropriate water-sharing agreements.
Over the last sixty years, China’s policies in Tibet, often called the earth’s “Third Pole” and the source of Asia’s great rivers, have led to widescale environmental degradation. This includes poisoned river and groundwater through unregulated mining, grasslands ecosystem degradation, and disrupted watershed and ecosystem services in the headwaters of these rivers, which has worsened already acute and chronic flooding downstream from Tibet, including your countries. In turn, global climate change is warming the Tibetan Plateau at twice the rate of the rest of the world, and the impact of this on Asia’s water supplies is exacerbated by China’s extensive dam-building programme, to harness hydro-power and divert water to mainland China. This programme threatens the safety, security, and sustainable livelihoods of more than one billion people downstream.
By claiming authority over the Water Tower of Asia, China is wielding considerable power over its neighbouring countries, yet it has not signed a single water sharing agreement. We urge you to act now to secure your future water supplies, by joining together with your counterparts in other nations downstream of the Tibetan plateau, and bring China to the negotiating table to sign appropriate regional and international water-sharing agreements.
Ms Dhardon Sharling, Co Chair, on behalf of The International Tibet Network Secretariat, Tibetan Women’s Association and Tibet Justice Centre
Dharamsala, June 5: Today, on the significant occasion of World Environment Day (WED), Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA) and its global network of regional chapters observed the day by organizing various green events such as marathon race, cycle rally, mass clean up & tree plantation. The United Nations official environmental theme for the year 2012 is ‘Green Economy: Does it include you?’
An undertaking of ‘Women’s Environment & Development Desk’ (WEDD) of TWA, Central TWA along with its regional chapter of Dharamsala organized a green marathon in Mcleod Ganj, Dharamsala. TWA president Mrs. Tashi Dolma spoke to the participants about the event and its significance. Around 50 young people including students from Upper TCV took part in the marathon which kick-started at the famous Mcleod Square and to Bhagsunag waterfalls and then concluded at the gate of the Tsuklakhang temple. “TWA’s action on WED adhered to this year’s global theme, primarily because when one chooses alternative transportation methods-such as cycle or running, one supports the creation of green economy in the transport sector”, Tashi Dolma, President of TWA.
Alongside, a signature campaign to save ‘Tibetan Nomads’ was organized. TWA received nearly 1000 petitions signed today. According to Tenzin Woebum, head of TWA’s WEDD desk, “The petition campaign was officially started in January during the 32nd Kalachakra prayers and it will be a year-long campaign aimed at urging the 11 downstream nations that receive water from Tibet’s rivers, to protect Tibet’s fragile environment. People are urged to sign the petition titled ‘Nomads for planetary Third Pole’. The online signature campaign is also underway and one can sign the petition on the following link: https://tibetanwomen.org/2012/01/nomads-planetary-third-pole-petition/”
TWA’s WEDD pledges to hand deliver the entire signed petition to respective government delegates and environment ministries of the downstream nations and thereby relay the crucial message of the imperativeness of preserving Tibet’s environment which matters a great deal for Asia’s future security.
The mission of the Environment Desk at TWA is to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change upon Tibet’s unique ecosystem and upon the plight of Tibetan women The TWA environment desk is committed to disseminating timely and useful information that highlights to the international community the critical issue of climate change in Tibet and engaging in proactive measures and campaigns to combat the policies and the destructive impact that the policies hinges on the social lives of the Tibetan people. The environment desk believes that it is imperative to draw on the Chinese environmental policies that are denying the human rights of Tibetans living inside Tibet.
WEDD also launched a ten-minute video titled ‘Expert Speak on Tibet’s Environment’ which can be viewed on TWA’s youtube channel; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rObIR2YFWA&list=UUv85TojsxxrNmbjAWse4S_A&index=1&feature=plcp. The video highlights the critical issue of Tibet’s Environment, covering pertinent topics such as climate change and glacier melt, Tibetan rivers, forced removal of nomads, and mining in Tibet. Experts discuss the failed Chinese Environmental policies, which are not only catastrophic for Tibet, but also for people of Southeast Asia.
WEDD believes that the right to clean drinking water is a fundamental human right granted under international law. According to findings, ‘there are approx. 1.3 billion people who are dependent on the health of the ten major rivers that originate from Tibet. These Tibetan water sources are being polluted through mining and highly restricted through damming, which results in unintended and often unpredicted flooding.’ In addition, ‘recent studies revealed that damming a river causes the water to evaporate, thereby reducing the quality and quantity of available water for those dependent on the source. Diminishing water levels are highly evident these days. Earlier this year, people of Pasighat town in East Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh found that the water level of the Brahmaputra River receded so much that it had nearly dried.’
“The crisis of our diminishing water resources is just as severe as any war time crisis we have ever faced. Survival of 1.3 billion is at stake now because of drying up of Tibet’s waters and the unchecked damming and China’s plans to divert the Brahmaputra of Tibet’s River” said Dolkar Lhamo Kirti, President, TWA.
Women’s Environment & Development Desk will carry forward ‘Protect Tibet’s Water for Asia’s Survival’ campaign throughout this year and at International UN Climate conferences.
The mission of the Women’s Environment & Development Desk (WEDD) of TWA is to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change upon Tibet’s unique ecosystem and Tibetan women. The WEDD is committed to disseminating timely and useful information that highlights to the international community the critical issue of climate change in Tibet. WEDD continues to engage in proactive measures and sustainable developmental projects and campaigns to combat the destructive environmental policies that are denying the human rights of Tibetans living inside Tibet.
_______________________________________  One petition is addressed to the Environment Ministries of the Downstream Nations, which includes China, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal. All countries receive water from Tibet’s rivers: the Mekong, Yangtse, and Salween in the east, the Brahmaputra in the center, and the Kamali, Indus and Sutlej in the west. The second petition is addressed to the Environment Ministry of People’s Republic of China, and urges Chinese leadership to halt the forced eviction of nomads from the Tibetan plateau, thereby ensuring future food and water security for Asia.