Australia and other Antarctic nations have today reaffirmed their commitment to protect and preserve Antarctica as a natural reserve devoted to peace and science.
As the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) wraps up in Hobart, the parties issued a Communiqué setting out key outcomes including measures to further reduce the risk posed by non-native species, further develop the Antarctic protected areas system, promote repair of past environmental damage, enhance understanding of global climate change scientific research and measures on safe and environmentally sensitive conduct of tourism activities.
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Bob Carr, said Australia had pursued outcomes at the Meeting that were focused on ensuring that the ATCM was a more effective institution, responsive to the priorities of Antarctic Treaty Parties and capable of tackling the challenges faced by Antarctica in the 21st Century.
“I am proud that Australia, as a leading Antarctic nation, drove outcomes at the Meeting which will have a lasting legacy for Antarctica,’’ Senator Carr said.
“Parties agreed to develop a Multi-Year Strategic Work Plan which will reflect the shared priorities of Antarctic Treaty Parties and guide the future work of the Meeting.
“The initiatives delivered at this meeting — spanning law, policy and the environment — reinforce the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting as the premier international forum on Antarctica committed to protecting and preserving the continent for future generations.”
Environment Minister, Tony Burke, welcomed the positive outcomes from the meeting.
“Antarctica is one of the world’s great wildernesses and Australia is a world leader in ensuring that we protect this unique continent for the future,” Mr Burke said.
“Importantly, we will continue to work to build the number of parties to the Environmental Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty.”
Australia signed three new international arrangements covering science, logistics and environmental management to deepen bilateral collaboration and cooperation on-the-ground in Antarctica:
· A Memorandum of Understanding on Antarctic Cooperation between the Australian Antarctic Division and the Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration of the People’s Republic of China on 13 June;
· A Memorandum on Antarctic Cooperation between the Australian Antarctic Division and the French Polar Institute Paul Emile Victor on 19 June; and
· A Schedule of Action on Antarctic Cooperation between the Australian Antarctic Division and the Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute on 19 June, pursuant to the bilateral Memorandum of Understanding on Antarctic Cooperation between Australia and the Russian Federation signed on 31 January 2012.