The 4th Tibet Environment Conference convened in Thailand from November 27-28, uniting experts, researchers, and activists to deliberate on the critical ecological issues surrounding Tibet's water resources. Organized jointly by the Tibet Policy Institute (TPI) and Chulalongkorn University, the conference aimed to shed light on Tibet's role as the "Water Tower of Asia" and its implications for global environmental sustainability.
Under the theme "Tibet: The Water Tower of Asia (Towards a Global Common Good)," the inaugural session welcomed distinguished speakers, including Dr. Tsewang Gyalpo Arya, Representative of the Office of Tibet in Japan, and Dr. Sayamol Charoenratana, Vice-president of the Social Research Institute at Chulalongkorn University. The gathering comprised leading experts from Asia and Southeast Asia, addressing pressing environmental concerns, especially the downstream impacts of dam construction and water diversions.
This gathering, strategically held ahead of COP28 in 2023, sought to amplify awareness regarding Tibet's ecological significance within global climate discussions. The conference agenda encompassed multifaceted challenges, ranging from hydro-geopolitics in South Asian river basins to the nexus between climate change and food-water security. Notably, discussions underscored the effects of China's policies on Tibet's environment, particularly in exploiting minerals and natural resources, impacting river systems across Asia.
Representative Arya highlighted Tibet's ecological importance while criticizing China's exploitation of its resources, implicating the region's rivers. Dr. Sayamol stressed the urgency for collaborative efforts among water-scarce nations in combating shared challenges aggravated by climate change.
Dechen Palmo, an environmental researcher at TPI, articulated the conference's core objectives, aiming to elucidate Tibet's ecological significance, understand its relationship with global climate shifts, and address the current environmental status quo in Tibet.
The upcoming discussions in the conference agenda are set to delve into Indigenous Knowledge and Climate Resilience, Public Participation in Transboundary Water Resource Governance, and Tibet's position in global climate dialogues. Anticipated outcomes include an emphasis on the necessity of regional collaboration for sustainable water governance, aiming for enhanced water security and holistic development.
By convening a diverse array of stakeholders, the conference aspires to highlight the criticality of joint efforts in safeguarding shared water resources. The event aims to build upon the successes of prior conferences in 2015, 2019, and the virtual gathering in 2021, each contributing significantly to understanding Tibet's ecological role and the importance of its rivers within the global climate discourse.
This comprehensive dialogue serves as a crucial platform to address the escalating water crisis, emphasizing the imperative of cooperative measures for sustainable water governance and the preservation of millions of livelihoods impacted by transboundary water issues.
Edited and collated by Team TRC