Global Day of Action,Durban

Tibetans advocate climate justice for Tibet at UN Climate conference


Tibetans advocate climate justice for Tibet at UN Climate conference

TWA delegates representing ‘Tibet Third Pole’ for COP-17 meeting completes the first week at Durban

Global Day of Action,DurbanDurban, December 5, 2011: Two members of TWA: Tenzin Woebum, head of Women’s Environment and Development Desk (WEDD) and Tenzin Dolma, Joint secretary, who represent Tibet Third Pole (T3P)[1], arrived in Durban on November 28 to take part in the two-week Conference of Parties (COP-17) meeting (November 28 – December 9), an undertaking of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The Tibetan delegates joined NGOs from around the world at the UN’s climate change negotiations to advocate for equitable and durable solutions to the world’s growing climate-change crisis and significantly to represent Tibet at this momentous gathering of 11,810 delegates; 1409 Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), 86 Inter Governmental Organizations (IGOs) from 200 countries.
Funded substantially by TWA and partly by the Global Fund for Women, the Tibet presence was made possible by accreditation and letters of invitation accorded by Global Campaign for Climate Action and Oxfam, South Africa respectively both through the International Tibet Network, thus providing an alternative voice for Tibet at the biggest climate meeting.

Scientists have termed Tibet as the Third Pole [2] in terms of its storage of glacier ice and its status as a reservoir for the world’s largest rivers which feed one billion people in 10 downstream countries [3]in south East Asia

China’s response to the growing climate-change crisis in Tibet has been two-fold. First, China has begun building dozens of mega-dams and water diversion projects to capture and re-direct water from India and SE Asia to an increasingly thirsty China.

Second, China is forcibly removing all of Tibet’s 2.25 million nomadic herders, creating a human-rights crisis masquerading as conservation. This human-rights crisis comes despite the nomads’ traditional ecosystem knowledge and millennia of sustainable stewardship of Tibet’s grassland ecosystems, and despite scientific evidence that shows the nomads’ positive role in promoting ecosystem abundance, diversity, and resilience.

“The world has gathered in Durban to continue addressing the ethical challenge that climate change has created. Does a sovereign nation have a moral responsibility to act not only in its own self-interest, but also in the interest of people living beyond its borders? China’s actions in Tibet answer –no” states Tenzin Woebum, head of the Tibetan delegation.

T3P senses the need to educate governments and fellow NGOs on how the Chinese environmental policies in Tibet are in fact exacerbating damage to the environment, and how China is using climate change to justify controversial policies such as the coercive settlement of Tibetan nomads.

“We are awed by the robust presence of China at the COP-17 meeting and of how parties steer clear of annoying China, thus making it a huge challenge for us, Tibet third Pole delegates, to present the true side of Tibet’s environmental crisis. It is significant to have the Tibet voice heard in this magnanimous gathering of leaders and activists with vested interest. This is especially so when China is painting a different picture of Tibet. The fact that it is two Tibetan women battling to be the voice of global Tibet movement made our representation significant and challenging.” said Tenzin Dolma, TWA’s Joint Secretary.

But the NGOs, UN observers and the media have shown commendable interest in the Tibet story and the Tibetan delegation was successful in keeping the Tibet stakes high at the conference.

The environmental campaigns by Tibetan delegates include lobbying Government delegates with the six key demands (appended at the end of this release) and pressuring them to include Tibet in the negotiations. The women delegates have addressed press conferences, arranged for public talks on Tibet’s environment, made presentations on Tibet’s waters, dams and the plight of Tibetan nomads. The screening of Michael Buckley’s two films: ‘Meltdown in Tibet’ and ‘Nomads to Nobody’ was well received and the highlight of the campaign will be the December-7 public event and book launch of TWA’s publication ‘Purging the Treasure House: Displacement and the Status of the Tibetan Nomad.’

Tibet Third Pole presents Demands for Tibet in the age of Climate change

1. An immediate halt to all land uses that threaten the Tibetan Plateau’s ecosystems and ecosystem services, especially the plateau’s water resources;

2. An independent, international scientific assessment of the Tibetan Plateau’s ecosystems, ecosystem services, & land-use policies;

3. An immediate halt to the removal of Tibetan nomads from the grasslands;

4. The use of social & ecological assessment tools & data to determine appropriate human & ecosystem adaptation and mitigation strategies on behalf of sustainable land uses and landscape-scale conservation;

5. Transparent, inclusive, & participatory trans-boundary resource management & decision-making mechanisms that include all local and regional stakeholders whose lives depend on these ecosystem services, especially Tibet’s nomadic herders;

6. The creation of strategic conservation zones across the Tibetan Plateau as a way to enhance the health of ecosystem services & that involve and support the traditional livelihoods and sustainable land-use practices, both in Tibet and in downstream nations.

Photos from the conference can be viewed here:

Videos are made available here:

Press Contact:

Tenzin Woebum, Durban, South Africa: + 27 + 799079926

Email: /

[1] Tibet Third Pole (T3P) an international working group of Tibetans and Tibet supporters’ and was formed by the International Tibet Network in 2009 during the COP-15 summit at Copenhagen, in response to China’s threat to Tibetans and Asians alike. T3P seeks to build alliances and collaborations with scientists, governments, NGOs, and peoples across Asia whose fate and future depend on the ecosystem services that the Tibetan Plateau provides. Website is :

[2] Tibet is known as the Earth’s Third Pole because it holds more freshwater, stored as glacial ice, than any other place on Earth except the Arctic and Antarctic, the Tibetan Plateau is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world. Scientists are already warning of the disruption of vital ecosystem services, including water resources, as well as increasing risk of catastrophic floods, and impacts to the Indian monsoon, which provides vital rainfall to people from Pakistan to eastern China.

[3] India, Bangladesh, China, Nepal, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma and Pakistan

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