India leads 1st-ever focused discussions on Antarctic tourism in Kochi

New Delhi, May 21,2024:  India is set to play a pivotal role in facilitating the first-ever focused discussions on regulating tourism in Antarctica at the ongoing 46th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) and 26th Meeting of the Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP) in Kerala’s Kochi, an official statement said on Tuesday.

The annual high-level global meetings, being held from May 20-30 in Kochi, have been organised by the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), Goa under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, and the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat.

The meetings are based on the provisions of the Antarctic Treaty — a multilateral agreement of 56 Contracting Parties signed in 1959 — of which India has been a part since 1983.

While discussions around regulating tourism have been ongoing in ATCMs since 1966, a dedicated working group for regulating tourism in Antarctica has been formulated for the first time at the 46th ATCM, hosted by India, said the ministry.

“India is honoured to lead this crucial initiative at the 46th ATCM, which is expected to bring a series of actionable recommendations to be incorporated into the broader framework of the Antarctic Treaty System. Antarctica represents one of the last frontiers of wilderness and scientific discovery,” Secretary, Earth Sciences, Dr M. Ravichandran, who is the head of the Indian delegation, said.

Calling it a collective responsibility, he implored nations “to ensure that all activities, including research and tourism, are conducted in a manner that preserves its ecological integrity for future generations”.

The meeting, with over 350 participants from nearly 40 nations, stressed the need for comprehensive regulations for sustainable and responsible exploration amid increasing tourism activities in Antarctica over the past few years.

Dr Ravichandran noted that “India has advocated for a comprehensive, proactive, and effective tourism policy anchored in precautionary principles”.

In the last 40 years, “India has established itself as a significant player in Antarctic research, environmental stewardshi


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