The Maryland Science Center at Baltimore's Inner Harbor, Credit: Maryland Science Center
On the 6th of April 2009, the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting and the Arctic Council met together in Washington DC. The fourty-seven signatory nations to the Antarctic Treaty include several northern countries that also hold membership on the Arctic Council, but in Washington the two polar political organizations met together for the first time. The USA hosted the meeting, at the US Department of State, in recognition of the initial signing of the Antarctic Treaty, also in Washington, in 1959, 50 years ago. The Treaty meetings extend for an additional two weeks, in Baltimore, and the Arctic Council will go on to its own meetings later this month, in Norway. This special opening-day event in Washington focussed on the IPY.
After greetings by State Department staff acting as guides and hosts, the assembled delegates and press (I counted 14 television cameras) heard speeches from Secretary of State Clinton, from Norway Foreign Minister Støre, and from Director Holgren of the US Office of Science and Technology Policy. The three speakers, with skill and energy, conveyed three very consistent messages: the success of IPY, the need for continued international cooperation, and the urgency of addressing climate change. IPY could not have asked for better attention at these high levels.
Next, national delegates, most of them likewise Foreign Ministers or high ministerial officials, discussed national IPY activities and future plans for polar research and cooperation. These short interventions carried forward the same themes - the global success of IPY and the need to continue research, political and public attention to the polar regions. Several delegates also mentioned the need for continued support for polar observations systems. Fifteen countries spoke in the time available; I could see many other countries awaiting a chance to speak as the time expired.
We first discussed this idea of a joint Antarctic Treaty, Arctic Council meeting three years ago. In reality, it proved better than we might have hoped. I know that three key individuals from the US State Department, Evan Bloom, Ray Arnaudo and Julie Gourley, supporters of IPY through countless separate Antarctic Treaty and Arctic Council meetings, played substantial roles and put huge effort into today's events. On behalf of IPY participants - thanks Evan, Ray and Julie.
NSF Press Release:
Arctic and Antarctic-themed Activities to Bring a Breath of Polar Air to Baltimore
What is IPY
Tuesday, 07 April 2009 04:24
Antarctic and Arctic Governing Bodies Meet in BaltimoreWritten by David Carlson
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