Managing the Antarctic Environment – National and International Responsibilities


In this paper we discuss the evolution of Antarctic environmental management, seen from our perspective as the first three chairs of the Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP). This body was established under the Protocol on Environmental Protection (the Protocol) adopted by the Antarctic Treaty Parties (ATPs) in 1991.The ATPs have over time placed considerable emphasis on managing the Antarctic environment. The Protocol synthesised a plethora of environmental standards and practices that had been developed over many years, and set out tough new rules on environmental protection. The concomitant establishment of the CEP demonstrated the high ambitions of the Parties for protecting the Antarctic environment. At its start in 1998, when the Protocol had been ratified, the CEP had to put in place procedures and practices to fulfil its mandate effectively and efficiently. In the ten years that have passed since then, the context in which the CEP is undertaking its work has changed. The Antarctic environment has been subject to various pressures, including climate change which has resulted in regional rises in temperature and loss of ice shelves; introduction of non-native species, and rapidly increasing numbers of tourists. National programme activities have also increased markedly. Air access to Antarctica has become more prevalent with many new ice runways giving access to parts of Antarctica which had previously been logistically difficult to access.The role that the CEP plays and its capacity to deal with such challenges now merits close attention. If the CEP is to continue to meet its mandate of providing timely and defensible advice to the Treaty Parties on environmental protection in the Antarctic Treaty area, it needs to ensure it can adequately manage a burgeoning workload, as well as making sure it has timely access to key data and information. Mechanisms to tackle these challenges are discussed.


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Dr. Yeadong Kim Former Director of the Korean Polar Research Institute, Republic of Korea


Professor Denzil Miller Institute of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart Australia
Dr. Olav Orheim Senior Adviser, Research Council of Norway and Former Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection, Norway
Professor Mahlon C. Kennicutt II Professor, Department of Oceanography, Texas A & M University and President, Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, United States


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