Chown led a study to identify six priorities for science in the Antarctic region over the next 20 years, but politics may interfere with efforts to establish environmental protection for the area.
‘There needs to be better environmental stewardship, enhanced investment in science, and more communication around the significance of the region to the public,’ adds Chown.
For Chown’s goals to succeed, international cooperation will be necessary, but this is far from certain.
The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), a consensus-based body that manages marine protection in the region, has been the focus for international debates over the direction conservation will take in Antarctica. The body has often seen geopolitical jousting between different member states, according to Mark Epstein, executive director of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition. Wider tensions, particularly between Russia and Western countries may stymie efforts to reach agreements.
Negotiation at the latest meeting will conclude this year. ‘This provides another opportunity for global leaders to live up to their overdue commitments,’ adds Epstein.