EDD submitted to the US China Economic and Security Review Commission, a written testimony entitled, "Water Security and Environmental Management on the Tibetan Plateau" which has been posted on the commission's website.
Water Security and Environmental Management on the Tibetan Plateau
Environmental and Development Desk
Department of Information and International Relations
Central Tibetan Administration
Dharamsala – India
for the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission
Climate Change in Tibet and impacts in Asia
Overview: With an average elevation of 4500 meters, the Tibetan Plateau is one of the most distinctive land-features on this earth. For many generations, this Plateau has met the basic necessities to sustain life and flourish human civilizations beyond its vast border. The modern era now begins to acknowledge the significance of its strategic location for developing peace and harmony within the region or the opposite. The Tibetan Plateau, also referred as ‘The Water Tower of Asia,’ is the headwater of major rivers that flow into India, Bangladesh, China, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam. The snow peaks and glaciers enable Tibet to be the source of major rivers that flow into Asia. As a result, approximately 1.3 billion people are dependent on the health of t e n major rivers that originate in Tibet. The total river basin area (as o f 2003 data) is estimated above 5,477,700 sq. km. The Plateau provides Asia’s freshwater resource from the deserts of Pakistan and India to the rice paddies of southern Vietnam, from the great Tonle Sap lake of Cambodia to the North China plain.
Critical components to Tibet’s ecosystem are undergoing major transformations due to climate change. For instance, it has led to the receding of Tibet’s glaciers, shrinking and disappearance of thousands of lakes, drying of wetlands, thawing of permafrost, and reduced flow regimes in many rivers. Abnormal weather conditions due to climate change has made subsistence farming and herding more unpredictable, thus impacting the livelihoods of a majority of Tibetans. These days, on the Plateau, the spring thawing is earlier and the permafrost is melting away before the growing plants can access the water. This affects not only the crops but also the native vegetation of Tibet, especially in wetlands and other low lying areas. The loss of wetland in turn threatens the migratory birds that are used to Tibetan stopovers during the mating season
Click the links for more information:
- Full text of the written testimony submitted by Environmental and Development Desk, Central Tibetan Administration
- Details of the hearing 'China’s Global Quest for Resources and Implications for the United States' held on Thursday, January 26, 2012 in Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 562, Washington, DC 20510