On 14 July 2016, the New Zealand Antarctic Youth Council (NZAYC) hosted a panel discussion titled Exploring the Antarctic Treaty in 2056 in collaboration with the McGuinness Institute. The panel discussed what New Zealand’s intent for the Treaty was in 1956 and then explored what our interest might look like 100 years later.

Watch Rear Admiral John Martin, Chief of Navy, present his perspective on how the value of Antarctica has changed and will continue to change over the next forty years in the video below.

John touches on three key areas: emerging threats to the treaty, New Zealand’s strategic position, and ‘the honourable thing to do’.

John emphasises how shifts in society over time affect perspectives on the value of Antarctica. In this regard, he notes that the Treaty must continually adjust in accordance with emerging issues. John argues that Antarctica will continue to be threatened by clashes in perspective and, because of New Zealand’s geographic location and legacy in Antarctica, we must prioritise early engagement with what role we want to play. He argues that increased global competition for influential claims to Antarctica will clash with scientific endeavours and preservation, and New Zealand will have to decide how to reduce these tensions while ensuring that it continues to utilise its position.

John finishes his presentation by discussing what the ‘honourable thing to do’ might be. He concludes that the honourable thing can only be determined by what value we place on Antarctica in regards to sustainability and equity, and ongoing economic benefits to New Zealand.

Background to the Exploring the Antarctic Treaty in 2056 panel discussion:

We chose the year 2056 as this will mark 100 years since New Zealand first established its presence in Antarctica, which is important context for a discussion around our long-term interest in the continent. In 1956, the Royal New Zealand Air Force scouted the route for New Zealand’s first Trans-Antarctic Expedition, and the Royal New Zealand Navy’s HMNZS Endeavour set sail from the port of Wellington with materials to start building Scott Base.

The discussion highlighted a clear need to engage early with New Zealand’s role in the governance of Antarctica going forward. The Treaty presents a unique opportunity, and we need to work together to explore creative policy solutions today for officials to implement tomorrow.

Background to Project OneOceanNZ:

OneOceanNZ is a McGuinness Institute project that aims to explore New Zealand’s public policy landscape in order to contribute to a wider discussion on how we might best manage our oceans. We will continue to look at public policy solutions around ocean governance, as it is an important long-term issue for New Zealand. So far we have three submissions that are available on our publications page. For more information on the OneOceanNZ project, read Think Piece 22: Proposal for the Creation of an Oceans Institution and  Report 10:One Ocean: Principles for the stewardship of a healthy and productive ocean