NOW is the time
• The UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development will kick off in 2021, aiming to reverse the cycle of decline in ocean health and gather ocean stakeholders worldwide behind a common framework for sustainable development. The Antarctic Ocean is a key component of the Global Ocean—the interconnected system of oceanic waters that covers almost 71% of the Earth’s surface.
• The Aichi Biodiversity Targets, originally slated for 2020 achievement, are set to be renewed. The original targets aimed to protect at least 10% of coastal and marine areas by 2020. The year 2021 will mark the start of a new global biodiversity framework. It is expected to be adopted in Beijing in October 2020.
• In terms of progress on climate change, 2020 is also considered by many countries to be a turning point by which a number of major climate change milestones should be met. By 2021, we will be in a position to evaluate what we have achieved and where we need to improve.
We are living at a time when the world’s ability to unite over common causes is challenged and societies are increasingly fragmented. Antarctica is a living example of why we should recognize and emulate peace and collaboration.
As the only continent on Earth that has never seen war, it is a symbol of international collaboration and peace. The Antarctic Treaty, first signed in 1959, has reserved the entire continent for peace and science ever since. Not only has the Treaty survived for 60 years—it continues to gather signatories.
Antarctica is a window into our natural world and is the Earth’s most important natural lab, containing vital clues to the planet’s history and our impact on it. Its four-kilometre thick ice sheet holds a record of Earth’s climate over the last million years. From a scientific viewpoint, understanding Antarctica’s role in climate change is critical.
The Antarctic Ocean is of vital importance for the health of global ecosystems and biodiversity; protecting it is critical. With its abundant wildlife, Antarctica’s unspoiled natural environment is a vibrant example of the richness that a global focus on sustainable development could protect and support.