The Deputy Minister responsible for matters regarding Antarctica, Benedetto Della Vedova, met today, by videoconference, the members of the National Scientific Committee for Antarctica (CSNA), a body which, under the control of the Ministry of Universities and Research, supervises the implementation of the National Programme for Antarctic Research (PRNA).
Della Vedova stressed that “Italy boasts an extraordinarily significant scientific presence in Antarctica, which the government has the duty to adequately enhance and support in the future”. As the Deputy Minister pointed out, the two initiatives that will be presented at the forthcoming Antarctic Assembly (14-24 June 2021), chaired by France, bear witness to Italy's scientific commitment in the continent and its particularly qualified contribution to research there: the results of the surveys conducted on the biodiversity of the Ross Sea Marine Protected Area, and the innovative project for the conservation of endangered plant seeds. The Deputy Minister also referred to the expansion of international tourism in Antarctica before the outbreak of the pandemic, which has reached almost 60,000 visitors in 2019. A phenomenon that will have to be carefully monitored and regulated, he added, because of its potential repercussions on the continent's environment.
Della Vedova pointed out that the enhancement of scientific research and the protection of the environment and biodiversity in the region, guaranteed by the governance system of the Antarctic Treaty, will benefit from the renewed commitment of the United States in the multilateral sphere and the greater attention paid to environmental issues. In this regard, he emphasised the important results achieved at the recent Ministerial Conference convened within the framework of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), in which he participated along with, among others, the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry. On that occasion, the US, along with New Zealand, announced its co-sponsorship of proposals to establish two new Marine Protected Areas by the EU Commission and Member States (and already co-sponsored by the UK, Australia, Norway and Uruguay), a clear demonstration of commitment to Antarctica's marine biodiversity.