The first ever Antarctic Parliamentarians Assembly took place on 2 – 3 December at the Royal United Services Institute on Whitehall, London. The Antarctic Parliamentarians Assembly was organised and hosted by by James Gray, Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Polar Regions, with funding from the Mamont Foundation and in-kind support from the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the British Antarctic Survey, and advice from the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research.
The Assembly was timed to coincide with Antarctica Day and the 60th Anniversary of the signing of the Antarctic Treaty, on 1st December 2019. There were 19 parliamentary delegates, representing 13 countries that have met to highlight the importance of Antarctica in the understanding of our planet, and provided an opportunity for parliamentarians to be able to press their legislatures to support the work of the Antarctic Treaty System. Ukraine was represented by Mr Roman Hryschuk, Member of the Committee of the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian Parliament) on Education, Science and Innovation, who was assisted by an Antarctic policy advisor, Mr Andrii Fedchuk, a Head of International Scientific & Technical Cooperation Department, National Antarctic Scientific Center, Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine.
The conference sessions shone a spotlight on the impact of climate change on biodiversity in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. Plastics, fisheries and growing tourism were other themes of the conference, with the parliamentarians reinforcing international cooperation on issues, which affect the Antarctic environment.
A consensus statement signed by all parliamentary delegates at the Antarctic Parliamentarians Assembly declared that, as a group of parliamentarians from Antarctic Treaty Parties, they agree to work towards establishing the Antarctic Parliamentarians Assembly on a biennial basis – the Assembly will be hosted by agreement among participating parliamentarians from Antarctic Treaty Parties, subject to further discussions, and alternating between the Southern and Northern hemispheres. They also will urge the Antarctic Treaty Parties and Members of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources actively to support and, as appropriate, prioritise their efforts to protect and conserve the Antarctic environment, promote and support international scientific collaboration, and ensure effective management of activities in Antarctica.
The parliamentarians also agree to encourage our parliaments to adopt, where appropriate, additional national legislation contributing to the full and effective implementation of the Antarctic Treaty System.