Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Tibet’s Environmental Issues Raised at Rio+20 (UNCSD) Summit by EDD Staff

EDD staff continues to raise pressing issues concerning Tibet’s environment during the events and activities of UNCSD Rio+20 conference being held in Brazil.

Mr. Tempa Gyaltsen Zamlha, a researcher at the Environment and Development Desk (DIIR) of Central Tibetan Administration has been taking active participation in several events and activities of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) commonly called Rio+20 being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Conference focuses on two main themes:  a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; and the institutional framework for sustainable development. 

Mr. Tempa Gyaltsen at the Rio+20 or Earth Summit 2012

 This historic Rio+20 conference is held after 20 years since the last Earth Summit held in the same city is being attended by more than 50,000 participants including more than 190 government representatives. During the previous Rio Summit of 1992, the world for the first time committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

To bridge the gap between the official Earth’s Summit and the people of the world, His Holiness the Dalai Lama along with singer John Denver and Al Gore opened an alternative meeting of political and spiritual leaders during the previous summit. HisHoliness warned, “One danger is that things like nuclear war are an immediate cause of concern so everybody realizes something is horrible. But damage to the environment happens gradually without much awareness. Once we realize something very obvious to everybody it may be too late. So therefore I think we must realize in time our responsibility to take care of our own world.”

Mr. Tempa took part in major side events including, “Transboundary Waters, Climate Change and Good Governance” organized by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) – Indonesia and Green Cross.  He raised the issue about the health of the six major Asian rivers originating from the Tibetan plateau and how Chinese are building dams with no regard to its impact on the lower riparian states. His comments on the sustainability of these transboundary rivers supported by factual arguments left the audience with some raised eyebrows and many nods of affirmation.

Mr. Tempa making his comments during the side event on Transboundary Rivers
"I stood up and talked on Tibetan water issue for five minutes and there was an eerie silence, everyone including the speakers were surprised and concerned, initially the speaker seem surprised and uncomfortable to comment on my point but Mr.Wouter J. Veening, President of Institute for Environmental Security re-emphasized on my point and then it became a main talking point for next 15 minutes”. –Tempa Gyaltsen

Mr. Tempa got an opportunity to meet Ms. Izabella Teixeira, the Brazilian Environment minister and shared some information about Tibet’s environment including The TibetEnvironment Press Kit published recently by EDD. After attending another side event organized by the Chinese delegation, he also managed to meet Mr. Sha Zhukang, Secretary General of UNCSD.
Mr. Sha Zhukang, Secretary General of UNCSD talking to Media

 “Mr. Shan held our press kit high up while posing with a group of Chinese delegations”- Tempa Gyaltsen

During a major side event, “An Ethical Framework for Global Governance”, organized by Earth Charter International Secretariat, Green Cross International and Russia Public Chamber, Mr. Tempa raised the critical issue concerning the forceful removal of Tibetan nomads from their ancestral land under the guise of China’s policy to civilize nomads and protect grasslands. He argued in favor of maintaining the centuries-old, traditional and sustainable practices followed by Tibetan nomads in managing the vast Tibetan grasslands( Watch Video

Mr. Tempa raising the issue of the forceful removal of Tibetan nomads 
under Chinese green policy during a side event at Rio, UNCSD, 2012

He also took part in a side event, ‘China Going Green? Youth Environmental Actions Rising to the Challenges’ organized by United Nations Environment Program and other five NGOs. After this event he met with the Chinese youth speakers and discussed how they could contribute to a healthy and sustainable Tibetan Plateau. He even discussed with them the ongoing environmental degradation and concerns facing the plateau and shared the press kit for further information.

During the first few days of the Rio conference, Mr. Tempa also met many other government representatives, diplomats and delegations from different NGOs.  He discussed with them about Tibet’s environment and distributed materials pertaining to Tibet’s environment.

On 19 June, Mr. Tempa will be speaking about Tibet Environment at an event organized by Marianne Marstrand followed by another event at the Israeli Culture Centre on 21st June.

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