30 June, 2015 News stories

Prince Albert II of Monaco supports Antarctic conservation assessment

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco recently closed a historic meeting of biodiversity and Antarctic experts, convened for three days in the Principality. The central purpose of the meeting was to examine the extent to which conservation of the biodiversity of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean is realising a set of ambitions agreed for the world as part of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020. The Monaco Assessment is a first product of the meeting.

Monaco Assessment Group with HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco. (Photo: Eric Mahon/Palais Princier)

The meeting, co-organised by the Government of the Principality of Monaco, the Centre Scientifique de Monaco, the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), and Monash University, also aimed to provide guidance for action that can effectively help deliver further conservation successes for Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. An additional goal was to identify key areas for work and indicators to help guide that work.

In providing dignitaries with a synopsis of the outcome, Professor Steven Chown of Monash University, co-organiser of the meeting, said:

“the initial expert assessment indicates a biodiversity outlook for Antarctica and the Southern Ocean which is no better than that for the rest of the globe.”

While such an outlook is disappointing for a region so remote, apparently pristine, and theoretically well-protected, the prospects for effective action over the next five years to improve the situation dramatically are exceptional. Under the broader Antarctic Treaty System an excellent set of governance arrangements exist that could give swift effect to improvements.

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco emphasised in his concluding speech that “…activity in the Antarctic region has increased substantially. This growth includes not only fishing and tourism, but also some scientific activities.”

Prof Peter Convey, from British Antarctic Survey, attended the meeting. He said:

“Assessments of Antarctica’s unique biodiversity have lagged behind those of much of the rest of the world. With a growth in human interaction in the region in recent years, threats to Antarctica’s biodiversity have gained increasing prominence. So this assessment is very timely in stressing the need for developing a scientific evidence base to provide ways of ensuring the best governance of the continent.”

Further outcomes and products of Antarctica and the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020: The Monaco Assessment will be made available over the next several months.