Stop climate change
Mentsunmo Climate Action Laboratory
97% of climate experts agree.
We humans are causing climate crisis.
Who we are?
In August 2020, Climate Action SDG Laboratory (CASLAB) established the Mentsunmo Climate Action Lab in Deqin County, eastern Himalaya region of China, where the main residents are Tibetans and other mountain ethnic-minorities. The Deqin County, located in the Eastern Tibetan Himalayas and central part of the Hengduan Mountains of North-West Yunnan Province, China.
Deqin contains the valleys of the Salween, Mekong, and Yangtze Rivers. Meili Snow Mountain and Baima Snow Mountain are the two mountain ranges in Deqin; the Salween River bound it on the west and the Mekong on the east. The crest of the range rises to over 6,000 meters above sea level, making for impressive prominence over the river valleys to the east and west, which are between 1,500 meters and 1,900 meters in elevation.
Mentsunmo, which means “Goddess Peak”, is a sacred mountain in my ancestral home. This snowy mountain is more than 6,000 meters above sea level and has snow all year round. Part of the Himalayas, it stands tall and handsome, blanketed with powdery snow, like a goddess in the sky. According to local beliefs, this snow mountain transformed into a goddess to bless the local women, and more importantly, control the local climate. We believe that when this goddess is happy, the climate will be good, but when she is angry, bad weather, which is accompanied by natural disasters, will occur. Therefore, we name our climate action lab Mentsunmo after the goddess. In return, we hope that she will bless our climate action lab, grant us good luck in our fight against climate change, and show that women have what it takes to deal with climate change with their traditional knowledge.
In the same regard, there is a traditional organization that dates way back for women in the local countryside. It is called “The Sisterhood”. “The Sisterhood” is an organization that was spontaneously established by female Tibetan villagers in every local village. It is mainly responsible for organizing festivals and religious group activities, such as singing and dancing performances, dinner parties, sacred mountain prayers, and Buddhist worship. While all the women in the village are members of this “sisterhood”, generally just those between 12 and 65 actually participate. “The Sisterhood” practices concerted management. Every year, during the Spring Festival, six women from six households are elected as the leaders of the “The Sisterhood” for that year. They will be replaced the following year with a new election. In recent years, as the impact of climate change and its devastation has grown, “The Sisterhood” has also begun to organize women to respond collectively and spontaneously, such as helping each other out after climate disasters with joint disaster relief and equal distribution of water supplies, control landslides, build reservoirs and canals, install water pipes, protect forests and restore vegetation, and more. This has objectively transformed “The Sisterhood” from a traditional organization into one dealing with climate change. Through “The Sisterhood”, local women have taken spontaneous actions to tackle climate change, proving that women can make a difference in dealing with climate change and its aftermath. That is why we decided to set up the “Mentsunmo Climate Action Lab” based on the “The Sisterhood”.
Capacity building workshop
First capacity building workshop
On August 21, 2020, Mentsunmo Climate Action Lab held its inaugural meeting and the first capacity building video conference in Jiabi Village, Deqin County, Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province.
Jiabi is a Tibetan village, pronounced Jiabei Zhuma in Tibetan. Jiabei means “land of iron” and Zhuma means “village”. Today’s Jiabi Village is under the jurisdiction of Yunling Township and located about 100 kilometers away from the county town, between Baimang Snow Mountain and Meili Snow Mountain,
on the east bank of Lancang River Valley and Jiabi River that flows through the village. Jiabi village belongs to a temperate valley climate area, 2600 meters above sea level, the terrain is high in the east and low in the west, the annual average temperature is 10.4 degrees Celsius.
In the video conference, Zhang Xiaohan delivered a speech on the current global climate change issues and the establishment of the " Mentsunmo Climate Action Lab". The details are as follows:
The current situation of global climate change and its impact on indigenous peoples and local communities.
The position and role of traditional knowledge in addressing climate change.
The significance and objectives of the establishment of the Mentsunmo Climate Action Laboratory.
The Mentsunmo Climate Action Lab will develop projects based on traditional knowledge to address climate change, protect biodiversity, and achieve sustainable livelihoods in the future.
At the capacity building session, the villagers of Jiabi village listed all the local concerns related to climate change and its hazards and ranked the four main issues that were most important and of greatest concern. Then Zhang Xiaohan and the villagers discussed the four issues and finally they developed a preliminary solution.
The four main problems are
Second capacity building workshop
On October 20, 2020, Mentsunmo Climate Action Laboratory held the second Capacity Building video conference entitled “We are acting on climate change” in Jiabi Village.
Zhang Xiaohan hosted a video conference titled “We are taking action to combat climate change”.
Jiabi’s village chief Tibu Tsiri, party branch secretary Songji Lord, women director SiNan Lazong, sistership representative SiLi Yongzong, local experts Liqing Peichu, Lu, Amagi, Xing Qiang and 21 other villager representatives attended the founding meeting. At the inaugural meeting, Zhang Xiaohan first introduced the project of Mentsunmo Climate Action Lab, which was selected for the Paris Peace Forum, and then she introduced the concept of “carbon neutrality” to the villagers.
Zhang Xiaohan discussed with the villagers the specific actions to be carried out by the Climate Change Action Laboratory in Mantham to actively build a “carbon neutral village” and contribute to the realization of the “carbon neutral” goal. Nima, deputy director of the village committee delivered a speech about protecting the ecological environment in the village and village groups as well as party branches will continue to play an active role, and through the climate change action lab work and effort turn Jiabi into a “carbon neutral village”.
Director of Women’s association, Srinamradzon, and representative of Sisterhood, spoke, saying that the sisterhood will conscientiously complete the actions carried out by the Climate Change Action Laboratory. Bian Malachu, the youth representative of the Sisters, spoke about the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in local grape cultivation, and hoped that the future climate change action laboratory could come up with an ecofriendly solution for this issue. The youth representative of the sorority, Dujilam, spoke about how the water level in the river had lowered noticeably in recent years and asked the villagers to make a pact to control the water usage. A Lu, a local expert of elderly villagers, will give his full attention to the value of traditional knowledge and actively support the construction of a “carbon neutral village”.
Mentsunmo Climate Action Carbon Neutral Forest
On October 21, 2020, 30 female villagers from the Sisterhood and local experts from Jiabi village, including Damaji, Liqing pingzu, Dingzhu, Alu and Dr. Yin Lun, gathered on the sacred mountain to establish the “Mentsunmo Climate Action Carbon Neutral Forest”.
We use the Goddess Peak of Mentsunmo as our name of Carbon Neutral Forest to show that local villagers, especially female villagers, have the spiritual power to deal with climate change, and the traditional ecological knowledge behind this spiritual power!
Mentsunmo Climate Action SDG Laboratory carried out four major actions:
Building “Mentsunmo climate action carbon neutral forest”, carrying out integrated watersheds management, setting up “Climate Action Day” and photography competition, and setting up “Mentsunmo climate action micro loan fund”. Subsequently, the laboratory assisted the villagers to formulate specific implementation plans for each action, and began to gradually promote each activity according to the plan. The laboratory first carried out the construction of “Mentsunmo climate action carbon neutral forest”
First of all, climate action laboratory protects existing forest ecosystems based on traditional ecological knowledge and sacred mountain belief. Based on the belief in the sacred mountain and the sacred forest culture, the villagers formulated village rules and regulations to close hillsides for afforestation, forbidding the activities of cutting down trees and destroying forest vegetation. At the same time, climate action laboratory supports villagers to investigate and study their traditional belief in sacred mountain and forest culture, and determine the forest, tree species, and altitude and hillside location for closing hillsides for afforestation. After determining the specific location, the villagers began to conserve the forest and trees from the high altitude area. The traditional knowledge of forest was applied in the conservation of trees: cutting off the side branches can ensure that the trunk has sufficient water and nutrients, which is conducive to the growth of trees and the whole forest in high altitude areas.
Secondly, in steep slopes and wasteland, the villagers choose the local seedlings of cedars to carry out afforestation. Cedar has a special meaning in traditional beliefs. In the ritual of offering sacrifices to the sacred mountain, local villagers will burn the branches and leaves of cedars to pray for blessings. Afforestation can reduce the threat of temperature rise and drought locally, and reduce the risk of landslide and debris flow caused by extreme weather. Climate action laboratory has built six “Mentsunmo climate action carbon neutral forest” between 2200 and 2500 meters above sea level.
China’s newest and major carbon sink areas are concentrated in Southwest China which includes Deqin. It is also the region with the richest biodiversity in China and even in the world. The terrestrial biosphere formed is considered to be the largest single region of uptake in China so far. At the same time, it is also the area with the richest cultural diversity. The local ethnic groups have traditional beliefs and cultures related to forests. These beliefs and cultures have protected the original forests and become the spiritual and cultural basis for the folk spontaneous afforestation. These grassroots spontaneous ecological restoration and emission reduction actions have also made important contributions to support the national emission reduction commitment.
Small watershed management
The Mentsunmo Climate Action Laboratory also carried out the improvement activities of the Jiabi River small watershed. Jiabi River is the mother river of Jiabi Village and it flows across the entire village. The villagers rely on the river water for their production and everyday life. The Jiabi River, which flows through Jiabi Village, is a tributary of the Lancang River, originating from the Buzha Mountain at an altitude of 4500 meters. According to legend, Jiabi River is considered by the local Tibetans to be the eldest son of Buzha Mountain and that by drinking water from Jiabi River, Jiabi Villagers will give birth to more boys. At the same time, due to the irritable nature of Jiabihe, floods and mudslides are brought to Jiabi Village every year, destroying houses and farmland.
Thirty women members and local experts from the Jiabi Village Sisters’ Association gathered in the upper reaches of the local river to begin cleaning and maintenance of the river basin. The Mentsunmo Climate Action Laboratory organizes women to clean up the river in the basin. The Mentsunmo Climate Action Laboratory has further planted trees on both sides of the Jiabi River Basin, and through the restoration of vegetation, the local microclimate environment has been improved and the risks of local floods, debris flows, and other disasters have been reduced.
Youth Climate Action Team
On December 1, 2020, Zhang Xiaohan and young villagers in Jiabi Village jointly established the “Youth Climate Action Group” to encourage and promote young people to participate in advocacy and action to address climate change.
The Youth Climate Action Group is committed to cultivating a group of outstanding youth actors and promoting young people to make immediate actions and fruitful changes in response to climate change.
The goal of the Youth Climate Action Group is to discover the role and value of local traditional culture in coping with global climate change and encourage young people to inherit and innovate their own traditional culture.
The Youth Climate Action Group will support young people to carry out independent research on traditional knowledge related to climate change based on rural communities.
The Youth Climate Action Group will establish a “Climate Change and Youth” website and regularly publish the “Young Climate Actors” electronic journal.
The vision of the Youth Climate Action Group is to establish a “Climate Change and Youth Action Network” at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) next year and work with young people from all around the world to tackle climate change and protect biodiversity and promote the building of a beautiful world.
Youth Climate Action Team members
Bianma Chumu: “Climate change is related to every breath we take in and breathe out. Protecting biodiversity is as important as protecting our organs. Pay attention to climate change and protect biodiversity.”
Bianma Cizhu: “Carbon dioxide emissions directly affect climate change, climate change directly affects biodiversity, achieving carbon neutrality, is the problem that all mankind need to pay attention to!”
Duji: “We should pay attention to climate change, protect biodiversity, take actions to protect our homeland and the earth, and give the next generation a healthy environment and a harmonious earth. Let us live together with nature.”
Dujitong: “Maybe I can’t stop things that damage the environment, but I can do things that protect the environment.”
Zhang Wei: “Protect biodiversity and build a community of life.”