New Delhi: The 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the third most important Tibetan religious head, Tuesday called on China and India to help save its environment.
Speaking at the fifth Khoryug conference on environmental protection for Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries, the Karmapa said: "Some people think the Tibetan cause is a political issue, but it is much more than that.
"The Tibetan plateau is of such great environmental importance that we call it the Third Pole and the water tower of Asia. Therefore, most importantly, Tibet is an environmental issue that affects all of Asia.
"Just because China has had control over Tibet for the past 50 years does not mean it can do whatever it likes. China has responsibilities to protect the Tibetan environment," the 28-year-old said.
"Historically, the Tibetan way of life was in harmony with the land, spiritually and environmentally, with no negative impact on Tibet`s fragile ecosystems.
"This way of life must at all costs be preserved, because of the central importance of the Tibetan plateau as a source of most of Asia`s freshwater," said the Karmapa, who resides in a monastery on the outskirts of Dharamsala where the Dalai Lama is based.
He said it was in India`s best interest to take a more active role in ensuring that China meets those responsibilities.
"Indeed the Tibetan plateau is the world`s Third Pole and thus its environmental well-being is of great concern to the entire world.
"However, we cannot wait for governments to act. The environmental emergency is too urgent a crisis for us to wait for someone else to do something.
"Every single individual must act to protect the environment, and immediately. Each of us has a responsibility to act so we can leave a lasting home for future generations," the Buddhist monk said.
The Karmapa, who fled Tibet and sought refuge in India in January 2000, is the spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu school, one of the four sects of Buddhism.
He is considered the third most important Tibetan religious head after the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama.