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Tibet Third Pole and Copenhagen summit PDF Print E-mail
[December 2009] Tibet Third Pole is a campaign that is working to raise awareness of the vital importance of Tibet within the issue of climate change, and advocating Tibetan stewardship of Tibets natural resources. Tibet is called the earth's Third Pole by scientists because only the North and South poles hold more glacially stored freshwater. As such it is the repository of vital water resources and currently supplies over one billion of the worlds population through six huge rivers that have their sources on the plateau to then flow through Tibet, China, India, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Burma, Thailand and Laos.

Following scientific research, it has been found that the Tibetan Plateau is undergoing climate change twice as fast as the rest of the world. Glacier meltdown across Tibet is already disrupting downstream water supplies, threatening the sustainable livelihoods of Tibetan nomads and villages and putting the lives of more than one billion downstream peoples and communities across south and east Asia at risk.

The Chinese governments programmes of damming the vast rivers and Tibetan nomadic resettlement is leading to increasing desertification of Tibets grasslands. This too is of immense concern since it will also lead to dire environmental ramifications that will affect billions of people.

COP15 is only the beginning of the campaign. It is vital that the campaign builds support within parliaments and governments. The initiative is being co-ordinated by International Tibet Support Network Tibet (ITSN) and support groups worldwide will be working to increase awareness and to lobby to effect change.  For more details please see background info below.

Tibet Third Pole background info:
Climate Change on the Roof of the World; Its time for Tibetans to control Tibets natural resources

Climate change comes to Tibet
Scientists call Tibet the Earths Third Pole because it is home to some 40,000 glaciers, storing more freshwater than any other region except the North and South poles. These same scientists also know that Tibet is warming at least twice as fast as the rest of the world.

Tibets glaciers will be gone within decades. Expert glaciologists estimate that, at present rates, almost two thirds of the glaciers on the plateau could be gone in 40 years (source: Orville Schell: Thaw at the Roof of the World, September 2009). These glaciers feed the rivers that are the lifeblood of Asia, providing water for more than one billion people in ten nations downstream of Tibet.

Chinas response to climate change on the Roof of the World is
    to dam and divert Tibets rivers.
    to displace Tibets nomadic people (the traditional stewards) from Tibets grasslands.
    to crush any voice that dares speak out against Chinas policies.

Environmental and human rights crises in Tibet
Since invading and occupying Tibet in 1949, China has degraded Tibets ecosystems, displaced and impoverished hundreds of thousands of Tibetans, and threatened Asias regional security.

Chinas policies have aggravated the environmental degradation that is affecting the quantity and quality of Tibets grasslands and water resources.

With drought and water scarcity on the rise across Asia, Chinas dams will disrupt already fragile water supplies in the region. In turn, Chinas policy of forcing tens of thousands of nomads into permanent exile in their own homeland and severely restricting the movement of most of the remaining nomads is creating a new human rights crisis in this already oppressed and occupied country.

China needs Tibets nomads, who learned centuries ago that only through good stewardship is life on the Tibetan Plateau humanly possible and ecologically sustainable. Tibets nomads are essential to sustaining the long-term health of the ecosystems and water resources that China so desperately depends upon and for which its army invaded Tibet sixty years ago.

The worlds nations and peoples now recognise that local communities must be at the centre of any just and enduring solution to determining the best way to adapt to climate change. For Tibetans, this means full participation in all aspects of decision-making and governance of Tibets ecosystems, natural resources, and conservation zones.

Solutions for Tibet in the age of climate change
1.   A halt to the removal of Tibets nomads from the grasslands of the Tibetan Plateau. Tibetans across the Tibetan Plateau have a fundamental human right to determine how best to live in the homeland they have known for millennia.

2.   An immediate halt to all land uses that threaten the Tibetan Plateaus ecosystems, ecosystem services, and traditional sustainable land uses with particular concern for the water resources of the Tibetan Plateau, which provide life-giving waters to more than one billion people in ten downstream nations.

3.   An independent, international scientific assessment of the Tibetan Plateaus ecosystems, ecosystem services and land-use policies, leading to an equitable and durable trans-boundary approach to adapting to and mitigating the affects of climate change in the region.

4.   The use of social and ecological assessment tools and data, including traditional ecosystem knowledge, to determine appropriate adaptation and mitigation strategies.

Tibet Third Pole demands
  • a halt to Chinas displacement of Tibetan nomads from Tibets grasslands,
  • an immediate halt to all land uses that threaten the Tibetan Plateaus ecosystems.
  • the full participation of Tibetans in all aspects of the long-term restoration, management, use and conservation of Tibets environment.

Useful Websites/links

Tibet Third Pole is an initiative of members of the International Tibet Support Network
Working group members: Tibet Justice Center; Association Free Tibet Denmark; Tibetan Womens Association; Free Tibet; Gu Chu Sum Movement for Tibet; Norwegian Tibet Committee; Students for a Free Tibet; Tibet Support Committee, Denmark


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