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.
Central Tibetan Women’s Association’s Women’s Environment and Development Officer Dorji Kyi and The Tibet Policy Institute’s environment research fellow Tempa Gyaltsen are participating the ongoing UN Climate Change Conference or more popularly known as the COP20 at Lima, in Peru.
The COP20 or the Conference of the Parties organised by the UNFCCC and hosted by the Government of Peru is being held from 1 to 12 December. More than one thousand government delegates, researchers, activists and scientists from around 190 countries are participating in the conference.
TWA has been participating at the past UN Climate conferences such as COP15 in Copenhagen, Denmark; COP17 in Durban, South Africa and COP 18 in Doha, Qatar.
The two Tibetan representatives are attending the conference to raise social-environmental issues such as the impact of climate change on the Tibetan landscape, the forceful removal of Tibetan nomads, polluting and damming of Tibetan rivers, the impact of destructive mining in Tibet under Chinese rule, and the global significance of the Tibetan plateau.
The COP or the conference of parties is the biggest environmental conference organised by the UN to specifically deal with the impact of climate change and find solutions to mitigate the future impacts. The next or the COP21 would be held in Paris next year to sign some of the most important agreements.
The Tibetan Women’s Association and its global network of regional chapters successfully organized a series of actions during the 33rd Kalachakra initiation offered by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and held in Ladakh from July 03-14, 2014.
TWA organized a series of public discussions oriented towards advancing public discourse on democracy, gender, women’s leadership, women and health and Tibet’s environment. The events catered to the general public and particularly Tibetan women who have converged in Ladakh for the Kalachakra program.
On July 5, TWA organized a public talk titled ‘Significance of Women’s Political Participation in Exile Tibetan Democracy.’ Speaker of Tibetan Parliament in Exile (TPIE), Mr. Penpa Tsering, Member of TPIE and women empowerment activist Ms. Dhardon Sharling and Asia program officer of National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and women empowerment activist Ms. Tenzin Palkyi engaged the mass audience on the vitals of democracy-women’s political participation.
On July 7 and 8, TWA organized an exclusive training program for Tibetan women devotees. Doctor Lhadon, Tibetan Medical and Astro Institute and Dr. Tsering Lhadol popularly known as Ama Shema, a Ladakh based obstetrician trained the women participants on women’s reproductive health, parenting and pre-natal and post-natal child care.
TWA also aimed to achieve advocacy at the international level and to this end, on July 13, TWA organized a panel discussion titled ‘Tibet the Earth’s Third Pole and its implication on Asia’s Future Sustainability.’ The panel of experts included; Dr. Chewang Norphel, environmental scientist and recipient of many national and international awards; Tenpa Gyaltsen Zamla from Tibet Policy Institute of Central Tibetan Administration and Dhardon Sharling, co chair of International Tibet Network. The 2- hour event discussed how in the age of climate change, Tibet’s environment is under threat thus posing greater threat to Asia and how this could be averted.
Pertaining to TWA’s slogan; ‘Action in Exile’, 160 women members hailing from 30 regional chapters based in India and Nepal were officially recruited by the Kalachakra Organizing Committee to provide organizing, security, disciplinary and social services during the two-week Kalachakra event that saw a gathering of over 1,63,000 devotees from 73 countries.
On July 15, TWA members and volunteers were blessed with a special audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA) is the second largest Tibetan Non Governmental Organization (NGO) based in exile India and the only Women’s NGO in Tibetan history. We are today a 16,000 member organization with 56 chapters in four continents; Asia, US. Europe and Australia. TWA’s slogan is ‘Advocacy for Home’ and ‘ Action in Exile.’
TWA’s Women Environment and Development Desk joins Lha Charitable Trust and Clean Upper Dharamsala Program on World Environment Day. A street art was performed by the team from Dharamsala Art School conveying environment sensitive message to the masses.
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.