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The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), Government of India, through the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), will host the 46th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM 46) and the 26th Meeting of the Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP 26) in Kochi, Kerala.

What is Antarctic Treaty consultative meeting?

  • The ATCM and meetings of the CEP are pivotal in the international community’s ongoing efforts to safeguard Antarctica’s fragile ecosystem and promote scientific research in the region.
  • Convened annually under the Antarctic Treaty System, these meetings serve as forums for Antarctic Treaty Consultative Parties and other stakeholders to address Antarctica’s pressing environmental, scientific, and governance issues.
  • The Antarctic Treaty, signed in 1959 and entered into force in 1961, established Antarctica as a region dedicated to peaceful purposes, scientific cooperation, and environmental protection.
  • Over the years, the Treaty has garnered widespread support, with 56 countries currently party to it.
  • 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.
  • India has been a Consultative Party to the Antarctic Treaty since 1983.
  • It participates in the decision-making process along with other 28 Consultative Parties to the Antarctic Treaty to date.
  • India’s first Antarctic research station, Dakshin Gangotri, was established in 1983.
  • At present, India operates two year-round research stations: Maitri (1989) and Bharati (2012).
  • In 2022, India enacted the Antarctic Act, reaffirming its commitment to the Antarctic Treaty.
  • The Antarctic Treaty Secretariat (ATS) serves as the administrative hub for the Antarctic Treaty System.
  • Established in 2004, the ATS coordinates the ATCM and CEP meetings, reposits and disseminates information, and facilitates diplomatic communication, exchanges, and negotiations related to Antarctic governance and management.
  • It also monitors compliance with Antarctic Treaty provisions and agreements and provides assistance and guidance to Antarctic Treaty Parties on treaty implementation and enforcement matters.
  • Key items on the 46 ATCM agenda include strategic planning for sustainable management of Antarctica and its resources; policy, legal, and institutional operations; biodiversity prospecting; inspections and exchange of information and data; research, collaboration, capacity building and cooperation; addressing climate change impacts; development of tourism framework; and promoting awareness.
  • The 26 CEP agenda focuses on Antarctic environment evaluation, impact assessment, management, and reporting; climate change response; area protection and management plans including marine spatial protection; and conservation of Antarctic biodiversity.
  • India’s scientific and strategic endeavours in the polar regions (the Arctic and Antarctic), the Himalayas, and the Southern Ocean are under the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR) in Goa. NCPOR is an esteemed autonomous institution under MoES, Government of India.