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India to facilitate the first-ever focused working group discussions on Antarctic tourism

Kochi :21/5/24: India is set to play a pivotal role in facilitating the first-ever focused discussions on regulating tourism in Antarctica at the 46th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) and 26th Meeting of the Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP). The occasion was graced by the presence of Union Minister Shri Kiren Rijiju, Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), today. National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), Goa under Ministry of Earth Sciences, and the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat will organize these meetings in Kochi, Kerala, from May 20 to May 30, 2024. The gathering has over 350 participants from nearly 40 nations.

The ATCM and CEP are high-level global annual meetings conducted by the provisions of the Antarctic Treaty, a multilateral agreement of 56 Contracting Parties signed in 1959. During these meetings, member countries of the Antarctic Treaty discuss issues about the science, policy, governance, management, preservation, and protection of Antarctica. The CEP was established under the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (the Madrid Protocol) in 1991. The CEP advises the ATCM on environmental protection and conservation in Antarctica.

Dr. M. Ravichandran, Secretary, MoES, and Head of the Indian delegation, while addressing the session, said, “Antarctica represents one of the last frontiers of wilderness and scientific discovery. As stewards of this extraordinary region, it is our collective responsibility to ensure that all activities, including research and tourism, are conducted in a manner that preserves its ecological integrity for future generations. India is honored to lead this crucial initiative at the 46th ATCM, which is expected to bring a series of actionable recommendations to be incorporated into the broader framework of the Antarctic Treaty System.” India, being a committed member of the Antarctic Treaty System, recognizes the pressing need to address the growing tourism activities in Antarctica and their potential impact on the continent’s fragile environment.

Dr. Thamban Meloth, Director of NCPOR, informed that India has a legal framework to regulate India’s activities in Antarctica, including tourism, through the Indian Antarctic Act enacted in 2022. He said, “The Indian Antarctic Act aligns India’s tourism regulations with international standards and collaborates with other Antarctic Treaty nations to achieve common conservation goals.

India hosted the 10th SCAR (Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research) conference themed ‘Antarctica in a Changing World’ for the first time in 2022 and contributed to the International Polar Year celebrations. There have been 11 Indian expeditions to the Southern Ocean, and one each in the Wedell Sea and South Pole. In 2007, India hosted the 30th ATCM in New Delhi, underscoring its commitment to the Antarctic Treaty System. India also collaborated with Norway and the UK to study the Antarctic ice shelf and ice rise and drill ice cores for climate studies.

Dr. Vijay Kumar, Adviser, MoES and Head of the Host Country Secretariat, said, “Over the past four decades, India has established itself as a significant player in Antarctic research, environmental stewardship, and international cooperation within the framework of the Antarctic Treaty System.” India will also provide a platform to discuss the possible induction of Canada and Belarus as consultative parties to the Antarctic Treaty System. Canada and Belarus have been signatories to the Antarctic Treaty System since 1988 and 2006, respectively. India’s involvement in facilitating discussions for the induction of new consultative parties aligns with its broader objectives of promoting scientific research and international cooperation in Antarctica.

“The collaborative efforts of nations within the Antarctic Treaty System are crucial in preserving the pristine environment and advancing scientific research in Antarctica. Through its leadership and commitment, India continues to play a key role in shaping the future of Antarctic governance,” said Ambassador Pankaj Saran, who was elected as the Chairperson of the 46th ATCM and 26th CEP.

The 46th ATCM plenary session included an invited talk by Padma Bhushan Dr. Shailesh Nayak, former Secretary of MoES, entitled ‘Antarctica and Climate Change’. Shri Pavan Kapoor, Secretary (West), Ministry of External Affairs, was also graced at the event.

About Editor in chief

Ashok Palit has completed his graduation from Upendranath College Soro, Balasore and post graduation from Utkal University in Odia Language and literture.. He has also carved out a niche for himself as a scribe of eminence after joining the profession in 1988. He is also an independent media production professional. He brings loads of experience to Advanced Media, Ashok Palit as a cineaste has been active in film criticism for over three decades. As a film society activist, he soared to eminence for his profound commitment to the art film appreciation and aesthetics of cinema. His mode of discourse is often erudite but always lucid and comprehensible marked by a perfect acumen so rare in the field. A film aesthete with an immense fond of critical sensibilities, he wrote about growth and development of odia cinema in New Indian Express, The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The Asian Age and Screen. He has been working as an Editor for Cine Samaya from 2002-2004.. He had made solid contribution on cinema in many odia Dailies and weekly such as Samaj, Prajatantra, Dharatri, Samaya, Satabadi, and weekly Samaya.
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