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Within this framework of science and policy advice, the Scan forms the first element and will provide a community-based vision of the direction of Antarctic and Southern Ocean science in the next two decades. The Scan will not attempt to directly address policy makers' issues but policy makers will be included as Scan participants, and Scan outputs will benefit the other activities.

The second element, the Antarctic Conservation Strategy, is a community-driven effort led by Professor Steven Chown (Australia, Inaugural Muse Prize Awardee) that is addressing the need to better inform and communicate, with and to policy- and decision-makers, the scientific principles that underpin the most critical environmental issues facing Antarctica and the Southern Ocean in the next ten to twenty years. The Antarctic Conservation Strategy will consider the utility of the science identified by the Scan in respect to the knowledge needed for conservation and environmental stewardship efforts. As a feedback, the Antarctic Conservation Strategy will inform the Scan of unmet, critical science needs and/or gaps in knowledge from a "science advice to policy-makers" perspective.

The third element, the Antarctic Environments Portal, is envisioned as a "one-stop shopping" location that provides access to policy-ready scientific outputs. The Portal development is being led by New Zealand and is sponsored by SCAR. Facilitating access to the latest and best scientific findings and knowledge is a critical need of the policy community. The outcomes of the Scan and the Antarctic Conservation Strategy will directly support the objectives and information needs of the Portal.

pdf Chown, S.L., et al, 2012, Challenges to the Future Conservation of the Antarctic, Science, 337, 158-159 (251 KB)

The XXXII SCAR Delegates Meeting (July 2012) agreed to form an Action Group to begin planning for an Antarctic and Southern Ocean Science Horizon Scan (referred to as the "Scan"). The Action Group's Terms of Reference and membership was agreed and the first meeting of the group was held at the SCAR Secretariat in Cambridge, UK from December 19-21, 2012.

The meeting format included opportunities for community consultation by on-line questionnaire, personal appearances, and electronic discussions via Skype. There were 49 responses originating in 22 countries to an on-line questionnaire on various aspects of Scan planning. The Action Group developed a framework for the Scan including: the steps necessary for the Scan to be successful, the intended audiences, the objectives, and the wished for outcomes. The group identified a range of possible processes and mechanisms to ensure broad and inclusive participation to be implemented before, during, and after the Scan. A list of important foundational resources was assembled to support the Scan's deliberations. A survey of National Antarctic Programme strategic planning documents was seen as an important first step to ensuring that the Scan was in-sync with the plans of those that fund and support Antarctic research. A budget for the activity was estimated and a strategy to raise funds agreed.

Another discussion topic was how to assemble a list of potential invitees to the Scan. It was agreed that a broad-based call for community nominations for Scan invitees would be effective and encourage wide participation in the Scan. The development of a list of compelling scientific questions will also be initiated with a broad and inclusive call to the community to pose questions. The Action Group used its discussions and community consultations to propose a detailed blueprint for the "1st SCAR Antarctic and Southern Ocean Science Horizon Scan".