Foreign Affairs Minister of Chile opened the 39° Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting
The 39th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM XXXIX) as well as the 19th meeting of the Committee for the Environmental Protection (CEP XIX) started in Santiago, Chile today.
More than 300 delegates from 38 countries members of the Antarctic Treaty, besides observer organizations and NGO representatives, participated in the opening ceremony which was headed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chile, Heraldo Muñoz. The Defense Minister of Chile, José Antonio Gómez and the Executive Secretary of the Antarctic Treaty, Manfred Reinke, also attended.
The meeting, to be held between May 23rd and June 1st, allows the Parties and Experts to exchange information and views on matters of common interest pertaining to Antarctica, and formulate recommendations to their Governments in accordance with the principles and objectives of the Treaty, as expressed in Art. IX.
This meeting takes place 50 years since the first one organized by Chile in 1966 and 55 years since the Antarctic Treaty entered into force. “In more than half a century, the Antarctic Treaty has become a successful model of international cooperation, to protect the White Continent from conflicts”, said Muñoz.
He also referred to Antarctica’s heritage, which should be valued and protected by this multilateral forum.
International cooperation in Antarctica, in particular regarding scientific development, is a priority for Chile. As Minister Muñoz indicated, Chile is making big efforts to support science in Western Antarctica. One of the most emblematic projects for the Chilean National Program is the International Antarctic Center in Punta Arenas, to be opened in 2019, which will take advantage of the geographic proximity of Chile and the White Continent and will offer excellent logistics facilities to other National Antarctic Programs.
Regarding the challenges to be faced by the Antarctic Treaty System, Minister Muñoz said that the impact of the climate change in the continent is a reality that needs to be approached with cooperation to preserve and protect the Antarctic ecosystems.
Furthermore, Minister Muñoz highlighted the importance of this year due to the commemoration of the 25 years of the adoption of the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty which defines Antarctica as a “natural reserve, devoted to peace and science”.