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					                                                                                                                                                                          KIeRAN lAWTON
     AustrAliAn AntArctic mAgAzine sPring 2006




     lOOKING TO AuSTRAlIA’S
     ANTARCTIC FuTuRe
                                                                                                                              The Antarctic Futures Project will define
                                                                                                                              Australia’s role in Antarctica to 2020.




     How will Australia be involved in Antarctica in the
     future? The Australian Government Antarctic Division
     has embarked on a project to find out.

     The Australian Antarctic programme is nearing         But how can we plan ahead when there are so               Given that the Australian Government Antarctic
     its 60th year — one of the longest sustained          many uncertainties? While we will aim to define           Division is the lead agency for advancing
     programmes in Antarctica of any nation. The           a preferred Australian Antarctic future, we have          Australia’s policy, science, environmental
     Australian Government Antarctic Division is           to recognise and account for the many factors             and operational interests in Antarctica, the
     almost as old. In that time we have seen              beyond our control.                                       outcomes of the project will also inform the
     some momentous changes, both within our                                                                         future directions for the organisation. However,
                                                           We can start with what we do know. For example,
     organisation (Australian Antarctic Magazine                                                                     this is not an internal Division review. We are
                                                           we know that the air link will increase our flexibility
     0), and our external operating environment                                                                     looking at Antarctica in terms of the range of
                                                           in planning and allow more people to participate
     – including adoption of the Antarctic Treaty                                                                    national interests to be served. We will embrace
                                                           in the Antarctic programme; interest in marine
     and the Madrid Protocol.                              science research and climate change science will          the broad Government and Antarctic community
                                                           continue to grow; and there is increasing interest        aspirations, while accounting for the Division’s
     2007 heralds an exciting new era for the
                                                           in and growing opportunities for international            current responsibility for pursuing the Australian
     Australian Antarctic programme. Australia’s new
                                                           collaboration. We also know, in many cases, what          Government’s goals in Antarctica and the
     intercontinental air link will radically change the
                                                           people want to do in Antarctica – there is no             Southern Ocean.
     way we do business in Antarctica and require
     us to adapt to new ways of working. The role of       shortage of proposals for more research projects          The project will present an agreed ‘2020 vision’
     Antarctic science in understanding and monitoring     on land, at sea and in the atmosphere.                    of Australia’s engagement with Antarctica
     global climate change is an increasing focus of our   The Australian Government Antarctic Division              – providing context for short, medium and long
     programme. At the same time, a global escalation      project team is consulting with current and               term decision-making about Australia’s approach
     in the price of oil is raising concerns about         potential future participants in the Antarctic            to the Antarctic. This will allow for more
     whether Antarctic programmes can be sustained         programme. We are seeking the views of a wide             confident strategic and operational planning
     at their current levels. In the long history of       range of federal and state government agencies            within the Australian Antarctic programme
     Australia in the Antarctic, these are landmark        that have an interest in Australia’s place in             and within the Antarctic Division, optimum
     events. But what happens next?                        Antarctica, or that may have a future interest            use of Government resources, and an improved
                                                           – from a policy, science or operational perspective.      understanding of how our involvement in
     To find out, the Australian Government Antarctic
                                                           And we are using previous reviews and analyses,           Antarctica matches with expectations.
     Division has embarked on an Antarctic Futures
                                                           such as the Antarctic Science Advisory Committee’s
     Project that will articulate top level objectives                                                               Importantly, the project outcomes will help to
                                                           Foresight Report and the ‘bold new vision’ being
     for Australia’s engagement in Antarctica to 2020.                                                               protect future options – ensuring that the options
                                                           developed by Antarctic Division scientists.
     The project will look beyond the Division’s current                                                             for future generations will not be constrained by
     scientific and operational planning; beyond the       When people and organisations provide their ‘wish         the decisions we make now.
     introduction and consolidation of the air transport   lists’ of things to do in Antarctica, a fundamental
                                                                                                                     ANDReW JACKSON
     system; beyond the life of the Antarctic Climate      question we will be asking is, ‘why will we want
                                                                                                                     Antarctic Futures Project Manager
     and ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre; and       to do this?’ The answer will enable us to identify,
     beyond the point at which some pundits say that       understand and justify what future activities we
     ‘peak oil’ will have materialised.                    should spend our money and effort on.

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