An Australian has been appointed to head the international advisory body responsible for protecting the Antarctic environment.

Australian Antarctic Division Senior Policy Adviser, Ewan McIvor, was elected Chair of the Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP) at the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) in Brazil this week, the second time an Australian has been at the helm in its 17 year history*.

“Australia has a deep and longstanding commitment to Antarctic environmental protection and I am honoured on behalf of Australia and on behalf of the Antarctic Treaty parties to take on this responsibility,” Ewan McIvor said.

The Committee advises the ATCM on all environmental issues in Antarctica including the introduction of non-native species, protected areas systems, climate change and tourism.

“There are 35 member nations on the CEP, as well as a number of non-governmental organisations with environmental, scientific and technical expertise on Antarctic matters,” Mr McIvor said.

“Over the next two years the Committee will be particularly focused on dealing with the environmental implications of climate change and also the way tourism interacts with the Antarctic environment.”

“It operates on consensus, so my role as chair will be to facilitate the free flow and effective exchange of views between members of the Committee,” he said.

Mr McIvor has worked in a range of environmental management and policy roles with the Australian Antarctic Division over more than 14 years.

He has been a member of the Australian delegation to the ATCM for a decade and has been Australia’s representative to the Committee for Environmental Protection since 2007.

The ATCM is the primary forum for Antarctic nations to exchange information and formulate measures, decisions and resolutions to further the principles and objectives of the Antarctic Treaty.

The Antarctic Treaty system is a 55 year old international regime which has been outstandingly successful in promoting peace and science in Antarctica.

There are currently 28 Consultative Parties and 22 non-Consultative Parties represented at the ATCM.

*Australia’s Dr Tony Press, who is currently heading the development of the 20 Year Australian Antarctic Strategic Plan, was Chair of the CEP from 2002–2006.