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25 Years Environmental Protocol


The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty was signed in Madrid on October 4th, 1991 and entered into force in 1998 after being ratified by all Consultative Parties to the Antarctic Treaty. The Protocol defines Antarctica as a “natural reserve, devoted to peace and science” (Art. 2), providing a framework for the global protection of the Antarctic environment.

The protection framework consists of the six Annexes that form the Protocol, which consider fundamental areas such as Environmental Impact Assessment, Antarctic Wildlife Conservation, Waste Treatment and Disposal, Prevention of Marine Pollution, Area Protection and Management, and Liabilities arising from Environmental Emergencies.

The Protocol also establishes a Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP), formed by one representative of each Party tasked to advise and formulate recommendations which shall be subject to approval by the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) for the purpose of achieving a more effective implementation of the Protocol.

Considering the importance of Antarctica as a natural reserve and research laboratory for the Earth, the protection of the Antarctic environment through this Protocol is essential for the conduct of scientific research, which currently focuses on the effects of Climate Change on the Antarctic ecosystem and other dependent and associated ecosystems.

To commemorate the 25th Anniversary of adoption of this Protocol, a Special Working Group will be established during the XXXIX ATCM and XIX CEP Meeting, to take place in Chile. This Group will evaluate the achievements and effectiveness of the Protocol, analyze cooperation scenarios between CEP and ATCM, and identify further environmental challenges in Antarctica.

The Special Working Group will be held on Monday, May 30th at the Sheraton Santiago Hotel and Convention Center, starting at 9:00 am.

For more information about the Protocol, visit