Collaboration important for continued research on Antarctica and in the southern ocean: Creecy

4 December 2019


Antarctica and the Southern Ocean environments are special outdoor laboratories that provide a barometer against which the rate and effects of climate change and global heating can be measured, says Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy.

Addressing the 2019/20 Antarctica Season Launch and Seminar in Cape Town, the Minister said that Antarctica and the Southern Ocean played an important role in the global climate system, providing an area in which scientists are able to study and understand natural processes that affect the planet.

The Antarctica Season launch coincided with the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Antarctica Treaty by 12 nations on 1 December 1959.  This Treaty Effectively became the first nuclear-arms non-proliferation agreement and the first instrument to govern all human activities in a region beyond sovereign jurisdictions.

“If we are all agreed on the special nature and role of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean within the global environmental system then we must agree… on the importance of prioritising and undertaking joint long-term research to study and monitor trends and changes in species and ecosystems to inform management,”  said the Minister. “This approach is multifaceted and includes different policies and research”.

The Treaty highlighted the ability of diverse nations to work together to address global concerns.

The Minister said two research areas that could contribute to further collaboration in the region were the development of goal-orientated marine management practices and methods, and research to understand the impact of human activities in Antarctica.

Initiatives in the region could be supported through enhanced public awareness, outreach programmes and facilitating the mainstreaming of Antarctic Education and Research Programmes in higher education institutions to strengthen research capacities.

Research, she said, must be extended to include applied and emerging sectors, and support for science and logistics gateway services for all countries active in Antarctica, and relevant government departments and institutions, need to be optimised.

“I believe that there is immense scope for scientific and technological collaboration that may lead to ground-breaking innovations with broad application. Given the harsh, unforgiving Antarctic environment, there is probably no better product testing facility in the world,” said the Minister.

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