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Tibetan Government in Exile Releases Reports on Tibet at WSSD

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 02/09/04; September 4, 2002.]

News Update-Tibet at WSSD
Johannesburg, South Africa
4 September 2002

WE THE SIX MILLION PEOPLE OF TIBET, voiceless in our homeland, call on the international community to act for the long-term sustainable future of our land and its rich biodiversity, and to respect our traditional Tibetan stewardship. Referring to Principle 27 of the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, “the environment and natural resources of people under oppression, domination, and occupation shall be protected”, and noting that we are an independent people occupied by the People’s Republic of China to disastrous environmental, cultural, and economic effect, it is incumbent upon the world community to intercede on our behalf. We ask the world community to support our aspiration for the Tibetan Plateau to again become a Zone of Peace, with sentient beings and nature living in harmony.


For more than two thousand years, Tibet, with three administrative regions, Dotoe (Kham), Domed (Amdo), and U-Tsang, existed as a sovereign nation, situated at the very heart of Asia: North of India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Burma, west of China, and south of East Turkistan. Throughout our history, led by our Buddhist belief in the interdependence of both living and non-living elements of earth, we the Tibetan people have sustainably managed our sensitive environment, protecting the source of water for most of Asia.

Our plateau generates the monsoon on which most of Asia’s food supply depends. Our waters have supported generations of Indian, Chinese, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Burmese, Bhutanese, Nepali, Vietnamese, Laotian, Cambodian, and Thai communities as a medium for transport, and a source of food, traditions, and culture. Their present and future wellbeing depends upon the flow of Yangtze, Brahmaputra, Indus, Yellow, Mekong, Salween, Sutlej, Arun, and Karnali rivers, all originating on the Tibetan Plateau.

Our mountains have been the places of spiritual growth, worship, pilgrimage, hermitage and habitat for gods of the Hindus, Bons, Buddhists, Sikhs and various animals for generations. Our lakes and great wetlands, more than 5,000 of them, have been sacred places for the people and sources of food and shelter for migratory birds, fish, frogs and other animals, many endemic and many now rare and threatened.

Our plateau ecosystems contain high biological diversity that has sustained the lives of Plateau inhabitants since the first settlements. They contain extensive virgin forests, a high number of endemic mountain ungulates, birds and fish, significant mineral resources, and unique landforms.

In 1949, the People’s Republic of China invaded our land, began a disastrous occupation, instituting a misguided economic policy, subverting our sustainable way of life, and threatening our fragile environment, our religion, our culture. In 1965, China designated half of Tibet as the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), and subsumed our remaining lands and people into four Chinese provinces. But even after 53 years of occupation, the Tibetan people remain unified by our language, our religion, and our way of life.


We are dedicated to the reinvigoration of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s plan to establish Tibet as a refuge for all the world, as a sanctuary in which all life is honoured and cared for, protecting the deteriorating environment of the Tibetan Plateau for the benefit of all life.


We hold the following objectives to be of immediate and paramount importance to protect all life within Tibetan lands.

To make universally available the profound Tibetan philosophical insight into the nature of reality, in which humanity and nature are not separate, realms apart to be only awkwardly brought together. To introduce to ecological thinking a non-western understanding of the world in which humanity is neither superior nor subservient to nature; a theory which found expression in Tibetan history and environmentally sustainable practice over many centuries. To ensure that sustainable development priorities for the Tibetan Plateau, the Roof of the World, are fully acknowledged and considered at the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

To secure and strengthen active and effective support from the international community for sustainable programs and initiatives that respect the people, mind-possessors, landscapes, and resources of the Tibetan Plateau. To halt China’s unsustainable exploitation of the Plateau, especially the compulsory and unsustainably high grain and meat yields, massive interstate railway lines, huge water diversion plans, gas and oil pipelines, chromite, asbestos, and copper mines, hydroelectric dams, and untenable resettlement programs.

Initiatives Only Tibetans have ever felt at home in our land, understood its capacities, respected its limits. It is the heartfelt aspiration of the Tibetan people, on behalf of all that lives on the Plateau, to fully participate in the development of our land and to shape the use of our natural resources. The alternative—China’s continued intensive exploitation of the grasslands, farmlands, and minerals, jeopardising the long-term health of the region and all of Asia—is simply unacceptable from environmental, humanitarian, and cultural perspectives.

We believe the following initiatives to be essential if the negative cultural and environmental effects of fifty years of Chinese occupation are to be reversed and the traditional Tibetan respect for nature is to be restored to the management practices on the Plateau.

To enhance the capabilities of Tibetans to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the needs of future generations.

To transform the whole of Tibet into a zone of peace with a democratic society.

To create an economic system based on non-violence and equity.

To restore and conserve Tibet’s extensive, fragile resource base and environment.

To reverse the marginalisation of Tibetans within Tibet and empower them to take control of development in their own land.

To support not only the economic well being of Tibetans, but also their social, cultural, spiritual and environmental welfare.

To insure that all development projects are implemented only after completion of a thorough needs assessment of the Tibetan people through field visits and interviews.

To insure that all development initiatives are preceded by cultural, social, and environmental impact assessments.

To insure that all development projects foster self-sufficiency and self-reliance for Tibetans.

To insure that all projects promote accountability of the development agencies to the Tibetan people and active participation of Tibetans in all project stages.

To insure that all projects respect Tibetan culture, traditions, and the vast Tibetan knowledge and wisdom regarding their landscape and how to survive therein.

To insure that all agencies have a local presence at all stages of the project to ensure that the intended target group receives the desired benefits.

To designate Tibetan as the working language of all projects. It will be important for the development project staff to know the Tibetan language.

To promote and encourage independent participation of International NGOs in research and field surveying conditions of health, education, environment, and living standards of rural Tibetans in remote regions.

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