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India will host key Antarctic Treaty meetings in Kochi

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India is set to host the 46th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM 46) and the 26th Meeting of the Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP 26) from May 20 to 30 in Kochi, Kerala. Organized by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) through the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), these meetings aim to facilitate global discussions on environmental conservation and scientific cooperation in Antarctica.

Enacted in 1959, the Antarctic Treaty designates Antarctica for peaceful purposes, scientific collaboration, and environmental protection. Currently, 56 countries are signatories to this agreement

India, a Consultative Party to the Antarctic Treaty since 1983, has been actively involved in Antarctic research and environmental protection efforts. It operates two year-round research stations, Maitri and Bharati, facilitating scientific expeditions since 1981. In 2022, India enacted the Antarctic Act to reaffirm its commitment to the Treaty.

Dr. M Ravichandran, Secretary of the Ministry of Earth Sciences, emphasized the significance of India hosting the ATCM and CEP meetings, stating, “We look forward to fostering meaningful exchanges of knowledge and expertise to advance environmental conservation and scientific research in the Antarctic region.”

The Antarctic Treaty Secretariat (ATS) serves as the administrative hub for the Antarctic Treaty System, coordinating meetings and facilitating diplomatic communication among Parties. Key items on the ATCM 46 agenda include sustainable management of Antarctica, biodiversity prospecting, climate change impacts, tourism framework development, and promoting awareness. The CEP 26 agenda focuses on environmental evaluation, climate change response, area protection, and conservation of Antarctic biodiversity.

Participation in the meetings is restricted to designated delegates from Parties, Observers, and invited Experts. Over 350 delegates from 60+ countries are expected to attend the meetings, reflecting the international significance of India’s role in Antarctic governance and management.

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