22 March 2016

To: Foreign and Environment Ministers of the Governments of Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam.

cc Mrs Irina Bokova, Director General, UNESCO; UNFFCC

Your Excellencies,

We are writing to you on World Water Day 2016 to share our serious concerns about the impact of China’s policies on Asia’s regional water security, with particular concern for its dramatic dam-building programme in Tibet, and to urge your governments to join together to press China to enter into further, binding and appropriate water-sharing agreements.

Tibet is the source of most of Asia’s great rivers, and there are an estimated 1.4 billion people who depend upon them across 11 large downstream nations. Their livelihoods are threatened not only by China’s aspirations for dam building but also by the serious impacts of climate change, that are affecting the flow of these rivers through melting glaciers and shifting precipitation patterns. Maintaining water security in the face of climate change will depend, among other things, on the effective trans-boundary management of Tibet’s rivers.

China is building dams on a grand scale, and its current Five-Year Plan (2016 – 2020) includes an intensified build-up of hydropower dams on all major Tibetan rivers. The intention to build many more dams along Tibet’s rivers has striking implications for downstream nations, as well as significant risks for such a fragile and significant high-altitude plateau.

By claiming authority over the Asia’s rivers, China is wielding considerable power, and we believe that it is critical that neighbouring countries work to strengthening the transboundary dialogue. In November 2015 Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam joined with China to launch a landmark agreement concerning cross-border cooperation on hydropower and water management on the Mekong River. However, much more needs to be done to encourage transparency over dam building and shared water management for all downstream nations. Previous to this agreement China had been disinclined to sign any water treaties or set up river basin organisations. And while the new Mekong cooperation mechanism isn’t a river basin organisation or treaty it does show a precedent for China to join more active dialogue on regional water resource management and cooperation. With this in mind we urge you to act now to secure your future water supplies, by joining together with your counterparts in other nations downstream of the Tibetan plateau, and bring China to the negotiating table to sign appropriate regional and international water-sharing agreements.

The importance of transboundary waters to individual states is embodied in the interdependencies created by such shared resources. This cannot be understated – now more than ever – as access to freshwater supplies globally face increasing challenges, including skyrocketing demand, climate change, over and inefficient use of water resources and pollution. However, despite the extent of shared water resources globally and the obvious importance, there are no international legally binding treaties in force today.  Existing treaties take the form of bilateral or multilateral agreements usually to provide governance in relation to a particular river basin.

We urge your government to push for a moratorium on the building of large dams on the Tibetan Plateau, and – in partnership with other downstream nations – to support an independent, international scientific assessment of the changes in the Tibetan plateau’s water resources. We request your support in pressing China to revise its data sharing policy; data that would be very beneficial for downstream countries in various ways, including improving adaptability to possible short-term changes in water flow volumes.

Lastly we urge you to make a joint public statement to express concerns over the unsustainable development of Tibet’s water resources and the governance of rivers arising from Tibet, on the basis of the plateau and beyond being considered a vital water-shed area.

VYours faithfully,

Ms Lobsang Yangtso, Tibet Third Pole Campaign Coordinator,
International Tibet Network Secretariat, on behalf of Member Groups of the International Tibet Network:

Western Europe:Aide aux Refugies Tibetains

Association Dorje

Association Drôme Ardèche-Tibet

Associazione Italia-Tibet

Autodétermination-Tibet 09/31

Briancon05 Urgence Tibet

Caisse d’Aide aux Prisonniers Tibetains

Casa del Tibet – Spain

Comite de Apoyo al Tibet (CAT)

Comite de Soutien au Peuple Tibetain (Les Lilas)

Corse – Tibet

Eco-Tibet France

EcoTibet Ireland


Groupe Non-Violent Louis Lecoin, France

Grupo de Apoio ao Tibete, Portugal

International Society of Human Rights, Munich Chapter (IGFM)

Jamtse Thundel Association

La Porte du Tibet, Geneva

Les Amis du Tibet – Belgium

Les Amis du Tibet Luxembourg

Lions Des Neiges Mont Blanc, France

Lungta Association Belgium

Maison des Himalayas

Maison du Tibet – Tibet Info

Nos Amis de l’Himalaya

Objectif Tibet

Passeport Tibetain

Phagma Drolma-Arya Tara

Reseau International des Femmes pour le Tibet

Save Tibet, Austria

Society for Threatened Peoples International

Students for a Free Tibet – France

Students for a Free Tibet – UK

Swiss Tibetan Friendship Association (GSTF)

Tibet 59 / 62

Tibet Democratie

Tibet Initiative Deutschland

Tibets Kinder im Exile V.

Tibet Liberte Solidarite

Tibet Libertes, France

Tibet Society, U.K.

Tibet Support Group – Ireland

Tibet Support Group – Netherlands

Tibet Unterstutzung Liechtenstein

Tibetaanse-Vlaamse Vriendenkring vzw

Tibetan Association of Germany

Tibetan Community Austria

Tibetan Community in Britain

Tibetan Community in Ireland

Tibetan Community of Italy

Tibetan Youth Association in Europe

TSG Free Tibet And You

Tsowa-Maintenir la Vie, France
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

Students for a Free Tibet Denmark
Central & Eastern Europe:

Fair Society o.s.

Friends of Tibet Society St. Petersburg, Russia

International Youth Human Rights Group – Human Rights in Tibet

Polish Movement for a Free Tibet

Save Tibet Foundation

Society for Croatia-Tibet Friendship

Students for a Free Tibet, Poland

The Foundation for Civil Society, Russia

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 Association of Slovakia

Tibetan Community in Poland

Tibetan Programme of The Other Space Foundation

TSG – Slovenia/Podporo

Union Latvija Tibetai

Zida Cels, Latvia
Africa and Middle East:

Israeli Friends of the Tibetan People

Tibet Support Group Kenya

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 Tibet Independence Movement

Northwest Tibetan Cultural Association

San Diego Friends of Tibet

Santa Barbara 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 Philadephia

Tibetan Association of Santa Fe

Tibetan Association of Southern California

Tibetan Cultural Association – Quebec


Toronto Tibet Youth Congress

United Nations for a Free Tibet (UNFFT)

U.S. Tibet Committee

Western Colorado Friends of Tibet

Wisconsin Tibetan Association
Central and South America:

Amigos de Tíbet Chile

Amigos del Tíbet, El Salvador

Asociación Cultural Peruano Tibetana

Asociación Cultural Tibetano – Costarricense

Casa Tibet México

Centro De Cultura Tibetana – Brazil

Grupo Pro-Cultura Tibetana, Chile

Le Club Francais – Paraguay

Tibet Group-Panama

Tíbet Mx

Tíbet Patria Libre, Uruguay

Fundación Pro Tibet – Argentina

Friends of Tibet in Costa Rica

World League for Freedom and Democracy

Anterrashtriya Bharat – Tibbet Sahyog Samiti

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


Gu-Chu-Sum Movement of Tibet

Himalayan Committee for Action on Tibet

India Tibet Friendship Society

Japan Association of Monks for Tibet (Super Sangha)

Japan Committee of 100 for TIbet

Lung-Ta Project

Mahatma Gandhi Tibet Freedom Movement

National Campaign for Tibetan Support, India

National Democratic Party of Tibet

Ns3 Rigpa Community Builder’s Foundation

Raise Tibetan Flag Campaign

Roof of the World Foundation, Indonesia

Students for a Free Tibet – Japan

Students for a Free Tibet – India

Students for a Free Tibet – Bangladesh

Taiwan Friends of Tibet

Taiwan Tibet Exchange Foundation

Tibbat Desh Patrika

Tibet Lives, India

Tibet Solidarity Forum, Bangladesh

Tibet Support Group Kiku, Japan

Tibet Support Network Japan

Tibetan Student Association, Madras (TSAM)

Tibetan Rights and Freedom Committee (TRFRC)

Tibetan Women’s Association (Central)

Tibetan Youth Congress

Youth Liberation Front of Tibet, Eastern Turkestan, Manchuria & Inner Mongolia (YLFTM)

A.C.T. Tibet Support Group

Australia Tibet Council

Australian Tibet House Inc.

Friends of Tibet New Zealand

Sakya Trinley Ling

Students for a Free Tibet – New Zealand

Tibet Action Group of Western Australia

Tibet Support Group Adelaide – Australia

Tibetan Community of Australia (Victoria)

Tibetan Women Association and Friends Australia (TWAFA)


International Tibet Network Registered Address: 1640 Berkeley Way, Berkeley, CA 94703, US