- Contributed by: Steven L Chown, Jenny Baeseman, Azizan bin Abu Samah, Karin Lochte, Jerónimo López-Martínez, Jefferson C Simões, Terry Wilson
In 1957, the International Council of Scientific Unions (now the International Council for Science, ICSU) invited 12 nations active in Antarctic research each to send a delegate to a Special Committee on Antarctic Research. The Committee held its first meeting at The Hague early in 1958.
SCAR will turn 60 in this coming (2017-2018) Antarctic season.
Over these 60 years, SCAR (now the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research) has continued to facilitate scientific research in, from and about the Antarctic and Southern Ocean region and to provide evidence-based scientific advice to a range of bodies. How it has done so, and how it has had to change in concert with a changing world is in part the subject of a recent history1. The challenges lying further ahead for the region scientifically, and in the realm of research support, have also been comprehensively examined2-4. We set out in brief here what SCAR’s immediate future plans are in the context of
the new Strategic Plan5
Given its role as a subsidiary body of ICSU, SCAR will continue to advance, facilitate and promote scientific research in, from and about Antarctica. Several developments will significantly influence these undertakings.
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Several months have passed since our successful and enjoyable SCAR OSC and Delegates Meeting in Kuala Lumpur, for which I’d like to thank our Malaysian colleagues again.
Over my term, I will provide a series of updates on matters important to the SCAR community and its broader network. In keeping with the geographic location of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean, and my residence in Melbourne, these will be entitled ‘View from the South’. Hence the title of this correspondence.
At the last Delegates meeting I indicated that the primary focus of my term would be on implementing our new strategic plan, especially four matters: Office re-organization in Cambridge, further strengthening our engagement with the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) and broader policy environment, ongoing facilitation of the science of our community, and further resourcing for our activities, including capacity building.
We have already changed some of our operations in Cambridge. Most significantly, we have outsourced some of our financial management. This accounts for the new procedures that many of you are now encountering when claiming for expenses and so on. The Secretariat has worked tirelessly to get this implemented, and is doing an amazing job. In addition, we have also embarked on the process to invest some of our reserve. Jefferson Simões and Jenny Baeseman have been handling the discussions and we have an ethical investment portfolio that will meet both SCAR’s low appetite for risk and for ensuring we keep our investments ethical.
In terms of our engagement with the ATS, two major activities have taken place or are in process. SCAR was well represented at the CCAMLR meeting in October 2016, with Jenny, Aleks Terauds, Mark Hindell and I attending. We presented several papers, and in particular a review of key elements of SCAR science that can be of assistance to CCAMLR in its work. Our presence was well received and we look forward to ongoing work with CCAMLR.
SCAR has also been active in the lead up to this year’s Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. We are either lead or co-submitter of eight Working Papers and several Information Papers. These cover matters such as science priorities, Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, Codes of Conduct, and the outcomes of recent research. The SCAR Lecture at the ATCM this year will be presented by Professor Tim Naish of the Antarctic Research Centre, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, and entitled: What does the United Nations Paris Climate Agreement mean for Antarctica?
The Executive Committee has also met several times electronically. Perhaps one of the most notable elements of discussion has been the work we will need to do to celebrate SCAR’s 60th Anniversary, which coincides with the late 2017/2018 period. We certainly intend to celebrate the event at the forthcoming meeting in Davos. Nonetheless, we would also welcome additional suggestions. These can be directed either to the Executive Director, Jenny Baeseman, or to me.
Finally, as you will notice from the SCAR home page (www.scar.org <http://www.scar.org/>) our community has a range of important forthcoming meetings. I’ll not provide details of them all here, but I would encourage you to seek out those that you find most important. One of SCAR’s greatest benefits is the connections it enables through these meetings and the new knowledge about and from the Antarctic and Southern Ocean that is subsequently generated.
Steven Chown, SCAR President