Brussels, 21 Jun 2006
Scientists and policy makers from 45 countries have pledged their political and financial support to the International Polar Year 2007-2008, the biggest internationally coordinated research effort for 50 years. The Declaration was made at the annual Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting, which this year is being held in Edinburgh, Scotland.
The International Polar Year 2007-2008 will involve thousands of scientists from 60 countries in internationally coordinated campaign of research that aims to provide the most thorough and comprehensive record of the changing state of the Polar Regions ever obtained. The overall objective of the Year is to provide better observation and understanding of the earth's Polar Regions, and focus the world's attention on their importance.
In the Edinburgh Declaration, the Treaty Parties state, 'We believe that the scientific research undertaken during the International Polar Year will increase knowledge of the Antarctic and will yield a better understanding of the major terrestrial, ocean and atmospheric systems that control the planet.'
The Declaration goes on to highlight the importance of research in the Polar Regions to improving our understanding of the impacts of climate change, and urges more states to sign up to the Antarctic Treaty, and its accompanying Environmental Protocol.
The Antarctic Treaty, which came into force in 1961, arose as a result of negotiations started during the International Geophysical Year in 1957-8. The Treaty stipulates that Antarctica should be used exclusively for peaceful purposes; guarantees continued freedom to conduct scientific research; promotes international scientific cooperation including the exchange of research plans and personnel; and requires that results of research be made freely available. It currently has 45 signatories.