Image via Twitter
South Africa is committed to the Antarctic Treaty, which hopes to regulate international relations with respect to Antarctica, Earth’s only continent without a native human population.
Image via Twitter
The Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Barbara Creecy, launched 2019/2020 Antarctica season on Wednesday, 4 December 2019 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
It’s important to note that Antarctica Day is not only a celebration of this important event, but that it also serves to highlight how diverse nations can work together peacefully using science as a common language.
The Antarctica Season started with the departure of SA Agulhas II, a research ship dedicated to Antarctica. During this time, senior government officials – local and foreign – will visit Antarctica; travelling via Cape Town.
The ‘Antarctica Season’ launch coincides with the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Antarctica Treaty by 12 nations back in December 1959.
It was established to highlight the “ability of diverse nations to work together to address global concerns, effectively became the first nuclear-arms non-proliferation agreement”.
In addition, it was also the first instrument to govern all human activities in a region beyond sovereign jurisdictions.
Speaking at the launch ceremony, Creecy said Antarctica plays 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.”
Creecy said that facilitating the mainstreaming of Antarctic programmes in higher education institutions was an “important component of strengthening research capacities.”.
She believes that Antarctica “should belong to humankind”, and that it should never be “apportioned to parties that happened to have been able to reach the continent before others”.
“As the only African country actively involved in researching and protecting the Southern Ocean and Antarctica, I would like to see South Africa’s geographic and strategic advantages optimised to advance world class scientific research”.Minister Barbara Creecy
The launch is a collaboration between the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) and the Norwegian Polar Institute, spanning from 2 December to 6 December.
The goal for the 2019/2020 Antartic Season will include hosting various seminars under the theme ‘The Importance and Impact of Polar Activities in your Country’. ”
South Africa will form part of a group of 11 countries, with delegates of partner countries convening in Cape Town as a “gateway to Antarctica.”
“It’s important for South Africa as a gateway country to Antarctica that we set up research centres that support the logistical issues that support research programmed in Antarctica”.Minister Barbara Creecy