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Climate Change and Tibet's nomads: letter to Ban Ki-moon

17 September 2009

His Excellency Ban Ki-moon,
United Nations Secretary General,
760 United Nations Plaza,
New York, NY 10017,

17 September 2009

Dear Mr. Secretary General,

We applaud your leadership, in this age of climate change, in bringing
together world leaders in New York on 22 September to press for an
equitable and durable agreement in Copenhagen. We stand with you in your
efforts to 'seal the deal' this December.

No less important in any agreement in Copenhagen is the vital issue of
human adaptation to climate change, especially concerning those peoples
most vulnerable to cultural and livelihood displacement and destruction.

In this light, we would like to draw your attention to the plight of
Tibet's 2.25 million nomads, whose culture and sustainable livelihoods are
gravely threatened on the one hand by the impact of climate change across
Tibet[1], the Earth's Third Pole, and on the other by China's policies of
forcibly removing them from the vast grasslands of the Tibetan plateau.

As you know, under Chinese occupation, Tibetans are being denied their
fundamental right to make their own choices concerning how best to adapt
to climate change. The impact of climate change combined with the
repressive political system across Tibet makes Tibet's nomads one of the
most vulnerable peoples on the Earth today.

According to Western, Tibetan, and even Chinese experts, China’s current
resource management policies across Tibet are leading to further
degradation of the fragile environment of the high plateau, which in turn
is increasing poverty and social breakdown, both among Tibetans and among
more than a billion people in ten nations downstream from the plateau.

We are therefore greatly encouraged that, amidst the many challenges of
negotiations on greenhouse gas emissions, you have not forgotten those
peoples being severely impacted by climate change. We specifically note
your recent meetings with nomadic herders in Mongolia, following which you
stated, “As we have seen here in Mongolia, the human family directly
depends on the health of our global home. When we live in harmony with
nature we all benefit.”

Tibetan nomads have long lived in harmony with nature, combining sound
livelihood practices and a deep religious devotion to assure not only
their own well-being in the harsh and fragile environment of the Tibetan
plateau, but also assuring the stability of Tibet’s ecosystem services
which Asia, including China, have for so long depended upon. Tibet’s
nomads must therefore be full participants in an equitable and durable
agreement in Copenhagen that secures the future of Tibet's ecosystem

Yet, without international pressure, the Chinese government will continue,
under the guise of conservation, to remove Tibet’s nomads from the
plateau's vast grasslands. Tibet's nomads must therefore have
decision-making power over any and all efforts to mitigate and adapt to
the effects of climate change in Tibet.

We appeal to you directly to raise this urgent issue with Chinese
President Hu Jintao, and to use your good offices to urge the government
of China to change its policies in Tibet. We call on you to ensure that
Tibet's nomads are firmly on the climate change agenda as full partners in
addressing how best to deal with climate change, in Tibet and for all who
depend on Tibet.

We urge that you press China to:

1. Halt the removal of Tibetan nomads from the grasslands and return
stewardship of Tibet's grasslands to Tibet's nomads.
2. Halt all land uses that threaten the Tibetan Plateau's ecosystems,
ecosystem services and water resources.
3. Press China’s government to ensure that Tibetan nomads are the key
decision-makers in any activities involving Tibetan grasslands and freely
consent to any efforts made to mitigate and adapt to the effects of
climate change in the region.

Finally, we welcome your assurances that the world’s most vulnerable
people will receive assistance for adaptation, but we ask for your
personal guarantee that the United Nations will not provide China with any
funds that will be used to pay for the removal of Tibet’s nomads from the
grasslands and condemn them to a life of despair, with the loss of their
culture, livelihood and very way of life.

We wish your summit every success and look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

169 member organizations of the International Tibet Support Network.

[1] When referring to Tibet, we mean the Tibetan Provinces of U’Tsang,
Kham and Amdo, now subsumed in the Tibet Autonomous Region and the Chinese
Provinces of Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu and Yunnan.

North America:
Association Cognizance Tibet, North Carolina
Bay Area Friends of Tibet
Boston Tibet Network
Canada Tibet Committee
Colorado Friends of Tibet
Committee of 100 for Tibet
Dhokam Chushi Gangdruk
International Campaign for Tibet
International Tibet Independence Movement
Los Angeles Friends of Tibet
Monadnock Friends of Tibet
Northwest Tibetan Cultural Association
Rangzen Alliance
San Diego Friends of Tibet
Santa Barbara Friends of Tibet
Seattle Friends of Tibet
Sierra Friends of Tibet
Students for a Free Tibet
Students for a Free Tibet – Canada
The Tibetan Alliance of Chicago
The World Tibet Day Foundation
Tibet Committee of Fairbanks
Tibet Justice Center
Tibetan Association of Ithaca
Tibetan Association of Northern California
Tibetan Association of Santa Fe
Tibetan Association of South California
Tibetan Cultural Association - Quebec
Toronto Tibet Youth Congress
U.S. Tibet Committee
Western Colorado Friends of Tibet
Central & South America:
Amigos del Tibet – Guatemala
Amigos del Tibet, El Salvador
Asociacion Cultural Peruano Tibetana
Casa Tibet Mexico
Grupo De Apoyo a Tibet Chile
Grupo Pro-Cultura Tibetana, Chile
Centro De Cultura Tibetana
Le Club Francais
Pensando En Tibet - Mexico
Tibet Group-Panama
Tíbet Patria Libre, Uruguay
Bharrat Tibbat Sahyog Manch, India
Circle of Friends (Philippines)
Core Group for Tibetan Cause, India
Foundation for Universal Responsibility of H. H. the Dalai Lama
Friedrich-Naumann Foundation (Associate Member)
Gu-Chu-Sum Movement of Tibet
Himalayan Committee for Action on Tibet
India Tibet Friendship Society
Lungta Project
Mahatma Gandhi Tibet Freedom Movement
National Campaign for Tibetan Support, India
National Democratic Party of Tibet
Raise Tibetan Flag Campaign
Roof of the World Foundation, Indonesia
Taiwan Friends of Tibet
Taiwan Tibet Exchange Foundation
The Youth Liberation Front of Tibet, Mongolia and Turkestan
Tibet Lives, India
Tibet Solidarity Forum, Bangladesh
Tibet Support Group Kiku, Japan
Tibet Support Network Japan
Tibetan Parliamentary and Policy Research Centre
Tibetan Women's Association
Tibetan Youth Congress
SFT Japan
Students for a Free Tibet - Bangladesh
Australia Tibet Council
Friends of Tibet New Zealand
Students for a Free Tibet New Zealand
Tibetan Community of Australia (Victoria)
Tibet Action Group of Western Australia
Africa & the Middle East:
Friends of Tibet - Isamailia (Egypt)
Israeli Friends of the Tibetan People
South African Friends of Tibet
Tibet Support Group Kenya
Western Europe:
Aide aux Refugies Tibetains
Amici del Tibet-Friends of Tibet Italy
Association Dorje
Association Drôme Ardèche-Tibet
Association of Tibetans in Germany
Association Rangzen
Association Rencontres Tibetaines - C.S.P.T. Midi-Pyrenees
Associazione Italia-Tibet
Austrian Committee for Tibet
Briancon05 Urgence Tibet
Caisse d'Aide aux Prisonniers Tibetains
Casa del Tibet - Spain
Comite de Apoyo al Tibet (Madrid)
Comite de Soutien au Peuple Tibetain - Bretagne
Comite de Soutien au Peuple Tibetain (Les Lilas)
Comite de Soutien au Peuple Tibetain (Switzerland)
Comite de Soutien au Peuple Tibetain de l'Herault
Eco-Tibet France
EcoTibet Ireland
Free Tibet Campaign
Games of Beijing, Switzerland
Swiss Tibetan Friendship Association
Groupe Non-Violent Louis Lecoin, France
Grupo de Apoio ao Tibete, Portugal
International Campaign for Tibet Deutschland
International Campaign for Tibet Europe
International Society of Human Rights, Munich Chapter
ISCOS-CISL (Associate Member)
Jamtse Thundel Association
La Porte du Tibet, Geneva
Les Amis du Tibet - Belgium
Les Amis du Tibet Luxembourg
Lions Des Neiges
Lions Des Neiges Mont Blance, France
Maison des Himalayas
Maison du Tibet - Tibet Info (Associate Member)
Nos Amis de l'Himalaya
Objectif Tibet
Passeport Tibetain
Reseau International des Femmes pour le Tibet
Save Tibet, Austria
Society for Threatened Peoples International (Associate Member)
Solidarite Tibet
Students for a Free Tibet - France
Students for a Free Tibet - UK
Tibet 59 / 62
Tibet Democratie
Tibet Initiative Deutschland
Tibet Liberte Solidarite
Tibet Libertes, France
Tibet Society, U.K.
Tibet Support Group - Ireland
Tibet Support Group - Netherlands
Tibet Unterstutzung Liechtenstein
Tibetan Community Austria
Tibetan Community in Britain
Tibetan Community in Ireland
Tibetan Youth Association in Europe
Tibetan Youth UK
Tibetisches Zentrum Hamburg
TSG Free Tibet And You
Tsowa-Maintenir la Vie, France
Urgence Tibet
Vercors Tibet Resistances
Vrienden Van Tibet
Northern Europe:
Association of Free Tibet, Denmark
Friends of Tibet in Finland
Swedish Tibet Committee
The Norwegian Tibet Committee
Tibet Support Committee Denmark
Tibetan Community in Denmark
Tibetan Community Sweden
Central & Eastern Europe:
TSG - Slovenia (Formally Foundation Dharmaling)
Friends of Tibet Society St. Petersburg, Russia
Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights - Tibet Desk (Associate member)
Lithuanian Tibet Culture Foundation
Polish Movement for a Free Tibet
Society for Croatia-Tibet Friendship
Students for a Free Tibet, Poland
The Foundation for Civil Society, Russia (Associate Member)
Tibet cesky (Tibet in Czech)
Tibet Support Association - Hungary
Tibet Support Group - Krasnodar Region, Russia
Tibet Support Group - Romania
Tibet Support Group - Sochi Region, Russia
Tibetan Programme of The Other Space Foundation
Union Latvija Tibetai (Latvia for Tibet )
Zida Cels, Latvia

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