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Climate Change and Environmental Human Rights on the Tibetan Plateau

February 7, 2022 @ 11:00 am - 12:30 pm

Monday, February 7, 2022
11:00 to 12:30 EST

Event in English. | Free and open to all.
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The Human Rights Research and Education Centre (HRREC) is pleased to partner with the Canada Tibet Committee to present this online event:

Climate Change and Environmental Human Rights on the Tibetan Plateau

The impact of climate change on the Tibetan plateau has been extreme, causing unprecedented natural disasters due to rapid glacial retreat, permafrost degradation, and extensive desertification. Due to the lack of international attention on the significance of the Tibetan plateau, there is very little to no international scrutiny or observation on Chinese government policies in Tibet. China’s development model in Tibet ignores the Tibetan people’s actual social, environmental, and economic needs.

While it has been difficult promoting discussions on the significance of the Tibetan plateau, it is far more challenging to address how the human rights of the Tibetan people are disrupted by climate change and by the Chinese government policies and practices that needlessly exacerbate the situation in Tibet. The first victims of China’s so-called environmental conservation practices are Tibetan nomads who have lived an eco-friendly and self-sufficient lifestyle on the vast grasslands of the Tibetan plateau for thousands of years. The Chinese government has removed more than two million Tibetans from their land and pushed them into large-scale settlements without any consultation or compensations, or enough medical, educational, or business opportunities to support a dignified life.

Tibetans who speak publicly of such issues are arrested, tortured, and even killed in some cases. On 19 May 2020, five UN experts called for all charges against Tibetan environmental activist A-Nya Sendgra to be dropped stating “the criminalisation of the legitimate work” of A-Nya Sengdra can be seen as part of “a wider crackdown on Tibetan” human rights defenders. The UN experts urged the Chinese Government to comply with international law and lift the charges against him and raised serious concern that he is known to have serious health issues and is being held in extremely poor conditions.

Our Speakers

  • David R. BOYD | UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment

David R. Boyd is an environmental lawyer and internationally renowned expert on human rights and the environment. He has a Ph.D. in Resource Management and Environmental Studies from UBC, a JD from the University of Toronto, and a business degree from the University of Alberta. His primary focus is on identifying laws and policies that will accelerate the transition to an ecologically sustainable and just future, both in Canada and across the world. Areas of particular interest include environmental justice, environmental rights and responsibilities, the rights of nature, the debate between regulation and economic instruments, and urban environmental issues. Boyd is the author of seven books and over 100 articles on environmental issues.

  • MP Elizabeth MAY | Parliamentary Leader of the Green Party of Canada, representing the southern Vancouver Island riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands on the territory of the W̱SÁNEĆ Nation.

Prior to running for elected office, Elizabeth May worked as a lawyer, a governmental policy advisor and was for seventeen years the Executive Director of Sierra Club of Canada (1989-2006). The ninth leader of the Green Party of Canada (2006 – 2019), she was the first Canadian Green to win election in 2011.

  • Dechen PALMO | Research Fellow, Tibet Policy Institute, Central Tibetan Administration, India

Dechen Palmo is a research fellow at the Environment and Development Desk of the CTA’s Tibet Policy Institute in Dharamshala, India. She researches Tibet’s Trans-Boundary Rivers focusing mainly on the Mekong and the Brahmaputra rivers. She pursued her Masters in International Studies from Stella Maris College, University of Madras, and M.Phil. in International Relations from the University of Madras. She has also submitted her Ph.D. thesis titled China’s national interests on transboundary water resources: a comparative study of the Brahmaputra and the Mekong river. She has also written and published widely on environmental issues in Tibet caused by the developmental projects of the Chinese government.

The panel will be moderated by:

  • Alex NEVE | Canadian human rights activist and former Secretary-general of Amnesty International Canada, currently Senior Fellow at the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.