The Committee for Environmental Protection and the Important Role of Science in International Efforts to Protect the Antarctic Environment

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Science and environmental protection are intimately linked in the Antarctic, as reflected by the region’s international designation as a natural reserve, devoted to peace and science. The objective of the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (Environmental Protocol) is to comprehensively protect the Antarctic environment, including its globally- significant scientific values. The Environmental Protocol established the Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP) to support Antarctic nations to address ongoing, new and emerging environmental challenges, drawing on the best available scientific advice. The CEP requires a sound understanding of the state of the Antarctic environment, how it is changing and how it is likely to change in the future, the consequences of interactions between human activities in the Antarctic region and the environment, and also the environmental implications of pressures from outside the region. The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) is a significant and valued contributor to that work, and along with other expert organisations plays an important role in ensuring the Committee’s work is informed by the best available science. The CEP has outlined its priorities in a rolling five-year work plan that also identifies associated science, knowledge and information needs. Continued close collaboration between the CEP and the science community is vital, and there are various avenues for science to continue to inform international efforts to ensure the wise management and protection of Antarctica.

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