As an original signatory to the Antarctic Treaty and a committed member of the Antarctic Treaty system, Australia actively participates in Antarctic governance arrangements through the annual Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings (ATCMs).
Over the course of the last two meetings, Australia has worked closely with other Consultative Parties to further focus the work of the key Antarctic governance forum through the creation of a Multi-Year Strategic Work Plan for the meeting.
At the 36th ATCM, in Brussels in May 2013, Consultative Parties agreed to adopt such a Plan to help the ATCM focus on matters of priority and timely importance, operate more effectively and efficiently and schedule the meeting’s work. By identifying a limited number of priority subjects, ATCM Parties can better prepare for focused discussions on key issues in advance of annual meetings.
While Parties remain free to raise matters on any of the regular ATCM agenda items, the 2014 meeting will focus on sharing information about strategic science priorities, cooperation on air and marine safety, land-based and adventure tourism and arrangements for information exchange between parties.
Under the Multi-Year Strategic Work Plan, Antarctic Treaty Consultative Parties agreed to undertake cooperation in three key work areas:
Ensuring a robust and effective Antarctic Treaty System
- Conduct a comprehensive review of existing requirements for information exchange and of the functioning of the Electronic Information Exchange System, and the identification of any additional requirements.
- Consider coordinated outreach to non-party states whose nationals or assets are active in Antarctica.
- Share and discuss strategic science priorities in order to identify and pursue opportunities for collaboration, as well as capacity building in science, particularly in relation to climate change.
Strengthening protection of the Antarctic environment
- Consider the advice of the Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP) on addressing repair and remediation of environmental damage and consider, for example, appropriate follow-up actions with regard to liability.
- Assess the progress of the CEP on its ongoing work to reflect best practices and to improve existing tools and develop further tools for environmental protection, including environmental impact assessment procedures (and consider, if appropriate, further development of the tools).
The effective management and regulation of human activities
- Address the recommendations of the Antarctic Treaty Meeting of Experts on Implications of Climate Change for Antarctic Management and Governance.
- Strengthen cooperation among Parties on current Antarctic specific air and marine operations and safety practices, and identify any issues that may be brought forward to the International Maritime Organisation and International Civil Aviation Organisation, as appropriate.
- Review and assess the need for additional actions regarding area management and permanent infrastructure related to tourism, as well as issues related to land-based and adventure tourism, and address the recommendations of the CEP tourism study.
Manager, Strategies Branch, Australian Antarctic Division