Environmental protection and scientific cooperation were key topics at the 38th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) and the 18th Meeting of the Committee on Environmental Protection (CEP) which concluded last week in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Australia’s delegation to the meeting, including officials from the Department of the Environment’s Australian Antarctic Division, and the Department of Foreign Affairs, joined over 400 participants from other Antarctic Treaty Parties, and expert and observer organisations, to discuss the management of Antarctica as a continent of peace, science and international cooperation.

The ATCM continues to promote scientific research and cooperation, research and outreach on the role of Antarctica in global climate processes, and a strategic approach to addressing the environmental aspects of tourism.

The CEP was chaired by Ewan McIvor, from the Australian Antarctic Division. The CEP meeting adopted new environmental information tools in the form of an Antarctic Environments online Portal and the first pan-Antarctic report on Important Bird Areas, and agreed a climate change response work plan to prepare for the environmental impacts of climate change its implications for Antarctic governance and management. Management arrangements for 17 Antarctic Specially Protected Areas were updated.

Australia’s delegation met with representatives of the countries we cooperate with in Antarctica and related international forums on scientific, environmental protection, logistic support, and policy matters, to plan for future activities and advance those important relationships.