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Monday, 19 October 2015
Page: 11708

Ms PARKE (Fremantle) (16:14): Last Tuesday the Australia-Tibet Council released their report, Tibet—an environmental challenge, at Parliament House. The report highlights the cultural, environmental and geostrategic significance of Tibet to Asia as a whole, and it makes the case that if the international community is interested in acting on climate change and if it is concerned about food and water security then it is in every country's interest to see a peaceful resolution of the Tibetan situation.

Situated between the two emerging regional and global powers, China and India, Tibet has traditionally acted as a peaceful buffer. Tibet is the source of Asia's major rivers, upon which an estimated 1.4 billion people across 11 large downstream nations depend. The Tibetan plateau, the world's largest and highest, has a significant impact on the region's climate. Known as the 'the third pole', Tibet's glaciers are melting, with implications for global climate change. Known in China as 'the western treasure house', Tibet is rich in 132 different mineral resources which are presently being exploited by a resource hungry China. Unfortunately, the benefits are not flowing to Tibetans, whose traditional livelihoods have been taken from them and whose civil liberties have been suppressed and abused.

The report details the lack of sustainable and transboundary water management, the overextraction of minerals and the forced resettlement of more than two million nomadic Tibetans from grasslands—and the significant impact this is having on the environment and on local communities and their culture. As we witness greater international cooperation to achieve the recently agreed sustainable development goals and to address climate change, all nations, including Australia, should concern themselves with the situation in Tibet.