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SCAR Strategic Plan 2004-2010

A SCAR Strategic Plan is a forward-looking vision of what SCAR should do to achieve its mission, vision and goals.  It provides an internal and external overview of SCAR and is a framework and guide to conduct SCAR activities in the coming period. The 2004-2010 Strategic Plan enabled SCAR to take a long-term view of its evolving role in relation to changing developments, including consideration of its potential role in the International Polar Year 2007-09.

Executive Summary

SCAR, the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, is the principal organisation dealing with Antarctic scientific research. Formed in 1958 to continue activities begun during the International Geophysical Year of 1957-58, it is an interdisciplinary committee of the International Council for Science (ICSU). Its area of interest includes Antarctica, its offshore islands, and the surrounding Southern Ocean including the Antarctic Circumpolar Current.

SCARʼs mission is “to be the leading independent organisation for facilitating and coordinating Antarctic research, and for identifying issues emerging from greater scientific understanding of the region that should be brought to the attention of policy makers”. To achieve its mission, SCAR aims to achieve five main objectives:

  1. to initiate, develop, and co-ordinate high quality international scientific research in the Antarctic region, and on the role of the Antarctic region in the Earth system;
  2. to provide objective and independent scientific advice to the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings and other organizations on issues of science and conservation affecting the management of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.
  3. to facilitate free and unrestricted access to Antarctic scientific data and information;
  4. to develop scientific capacity in all SCAR Members, especially with respect to younger scientists, and to promote the incorporation of Antarctic science in education at all levels;
  5. to communicate scientific information about the Antarctic region to the public.

To ensure that it can deliver effectively on these objectives, SCAR has undergone a major reorganisation that was completed in 2004 with

  1. the transformation of its Secretariat into an Executive Office headed by an Executive Director,
  2. the creation of a streamlined structure led by Standing Scientific Groups on Geosciences, Life Sciences and Physical Sciences,
  3. a more focused scientific research programme,
  4. a new Constitution and Rules of Procedure, and
  5. a new financial strategy.

SCAR is focusing its efforts on five Scientific Research Programmes addressing major topical issues of the day. These programmes are:

  • Subglacial Lake Exploration (SALE)
  • Antarctica and the Global Climate System (AGCS)
  • Antarctic Climate Evolution (ACE)
  • Evolution and Biodiversity in the Antarctic (EBA)
  • Inter-hemispheric Conjugacy Effects in Solar- Terrestrial and Aeronomy Research (ICESTAR)

The bulk of the activities contributing to these programmes will be funded nationally. SCARʼs international coordination is intended to add value to those national efforts.

SCAR also supports a variety of other scientific activities in which value is added to national efforts through international cooperation. These activities are coordinated by Action Groups operating for short periods, and Expert Groups where more time is needed to achieve success.

SCARʼs activities will make significant contributions to achieving the goals of the International Polar Year (IPY) (2007–09). SCAR will work with partner organisations to influence the development of the IPY.

SCAR recognises the growing importance of working in partnership with other organisations having a global remit and including Antarctic interests, in order to place SCARʼs research firmly in the global context.

SCARʼs Standing Committee on the Antarctic Treaty System will work closely with the Standing Scientific Groups and the Executive Committee to bring key scientific issues to the attention of the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting.

In order to improve for the benefit of scientists the way in which data and information are managed and made available, SCAR will

  1. review the activities of the Joint SCAR/COMNAP Committee on Antarctic Data Management (JCADM) and the Expert Group on Geographical Information (EGGI), and
  2. work with JCADM and EGGI and the scientific community to develop a strategy for data and information management.

SCAR will also develop a strategy setting out how it proposes to meet the requirement to develop scientific capacity in all SCAR Members, especially with respect to younger scientists, and to promote the incorporation of Antarctic science in education at all levels. One key element of this strategy will be the development of a Fellowship programme building on the scheme that was supported in 2003-04 by the Prince of Asturias Prize.

SCAR will in addition develop a strategy to meet the requirement to communicate scientific information about the Antarctic region to the public. Steps have already been taken in this direction with renewal of the SCAR web site, and production of a SCAR poster and Power-Point presentation that are available on the web site.

To ensure that progress is made in these different areas, the members of SCARʼs Executive Committee will each carry a responsibility for a specific activity from a list including: the Antarctic Treaty System; Scientific Affairs; Administration; Data and Information Management; Finance; Communication; and Capacity Building and Education.

SCARʼs performance will be reviewed in depth at intervals of 8 years, and subsidiary groups at intervals of 5 years. The progress of all groups and the Secretariat against stated action plans will be monitored annually.

SCARʼs intentions are set out in this Strategic Plan for three biennial planning cycles covering the period 2004-10. The Plan is intended to show where SCAR fits in the world of science, to enable SCAR to take a longterm view of its evolving role in relation to changing developments, and to provide a blueprint for SCAR activities at the national level. It will be revisited at each biennial meeting of the SCAR Delegates, and revised as appropriate. The work programme and budget that the Delegates approve at each biennial meeting comprise the short-term components of an overall Implementation Plan. The specific requirements of the Strategic Plan for areas such as Communications will be translated into strategic and implementation plans for those specific areas.