In the absence of Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero who had to isolate himself after having been a close contact during last week's Celac Summit of his Bolivian colleague Rogelio Mayta, who tested positive for COVID-19, Malvinas, Antarctica, and South Atlantic Secretary Guillermo Carmona presided over Monday's ceremony where the 2021-2022 Antarctic Annual Plan was launched.
The activities announced span from Nov. 1, 2021 to Oct. 31, 2022 and are aimed at reaffirming Argentina's sovereignty over Antarctica and the Falkland Islands in addition to strengthening the country's presence in multilateral forums on Antarctica while boosting the relationships with other countries and developing Antarctic science and environmental protection.
The event was also attended by National Director of Antarctica (DNA) Patricia Ortúzar; the scientific coordinator of the Argentine Antarctic Institute (IAA) Sergio Santillana, and the Antarctic joint commander, Brigadier General Edgar Calandín, who outlined the specifics of the plan.
Carmona also stressed that the plan was drawn up in a participatory manner by the IAA, the DNA and the Antarctic Joint Command and that it plans to develop 48 lines of scientific activities that will allow a more complete knowledge of the particular Antarctic environment and count on the knowledge and experience of Argentine scientists and technicians.
Regarding the plan, he added that it gives us the necessary challenge of thinking about our Antarctic presence also based on the enormous commitment that the Argentine Government has been assuming in matters of climate change, and there are lines of work that I believe characterize Argentina in Antarctica, such as the new importance given to social sciences in an area where they had not been developed. The new undertakings include the presence of Radio Nacional and educational projects.
Among the new priorities are the interaction between South America and Antarctica, climate change and the monitoring of the ecosystem used for decision-making in different forums of the Antarctic Treaty.
Along with each project, an environmental impact assessment is completed in compliance with the Madrid Protocol.
The projects are compiled into four large groups: scientific-technical activities and the Meteorological Service, environmental management activities and tourism, logistical support activities and service activities.
The 2021/2022 summer Antarctic campaign is also expected to be a campaign similar to those carried out before the pandemic, where scientific activities will involve approximately 187 researchers, including 10 foreigners, technicians and logistics, sent by the DNA and the IAA that will integrate 73 working groups corresponding to 49 IAA scientific projects (17 Life Sciences, 18 Earth Sciences, 11 Physical-Chemical Sciences, 2 Social Sciences and 6 of the National Meteorological Services).
The working groups will be divided into different Bases, 6 permanent and 4 temporaries, and onboard the ARA Almirante Irízar icebreaker. Two-thirds of the personnel involved will carry out their activities at the Carlini and Marambio Bases, it was also announced.
Argentine bases in Antarctica such as Brown, Cámara, Decepción, Esperanza, Matienzo, Marambio, Melchior, Orcadas, Petrel, Primavera and San Martín took part virtually in Monday's event.
“Both the scientific research that Argentina promotes in Antarctica and all the logistical operations that the Armed Forces carry out ... are linked to the question of sovereignty, Carmona explained.
They imply a permanent and lasting presence of Argentines working and living in the Antarctic sector over which we claim sovereign rights in the framework of the Antarctic Treaty,” he added