A Sydney Democracy Network (SDN) project supporting the wider public understanding of Antarctica and its possible futures.
Endorsed by a three-year Australian Research Council grant, Antarctica Futures brings together academics and those with policy expertise in Antarctica for the purpose of taking a fresh look at the relevance of Antarctica for the future of democracy. Through independent research, seminars, public forums and multi-media initiatives, it reconsiders the history and present-day significance of Antarctica’s governing arrangements, how they might be improved, and assesses whether they can survive the mounting global pressures to ‘open up’ the continent to wider commercial and state interests.
With some notable exceptions, decisions affecting the continent have, until now, largely been taken by officials of national governments working behind the scenes, or by diplomats, statesmen, lawyers and judges working within the framework of the Antarctic Treaty System. A geographically vast and politically significant continent, Antarctica has been governed for more than 50 years by ‘post-sovereign’ provisions and rules, with science and preservation of the environment at their core. There are clear signs that these governing arrangements are subject to mounting pressures, and that they are being pushed to breaking point. This prompts some fundamental questions:
By addressing these and other questions, the Antarctica Futures project hopes to promote deeper public understanding and citizen involvement in decisions that will shape the future of a continent that can teach us much about how effectively and democratically to govern our global commons in support of future generations.