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