Protecting the Antarctic for penguins, peace and the planet

Protecting the Antarctic for penguins, peace and the planet

Richard Branson

Earlier this month, the Paris Peace Forum brought people together from around the world in support of collective, global action. Over three days, states, international organisations, local governments, NGOs and foundations, companies, experts, journalists, trade unions, religious groups and citizens focused on the solutions needed to deliver a safer, more peaceful and healthy planet for all of us.

120 projects from around the world selected from 850 applications, were presented in five “villages”: peace and security, environment, development, new technologies and inclusive economy. Our team from Ocean Unite was there to talk about their Antarctica2020 initiative, a project focused on securing the strong protection of at least seven million square kilometres of the Southern Ocean by 2020 (the 200th anniversary of its discovery).

What, you may be thinking, does protecting penguins have to do with securing global peace and security? That is part of the magic of Antarctica. The Antarctic continent and its surrounding ocean is a beacon of hope for multilateralism, international solidarity and our common responsibility for the Earth.

In 1959, at the height of the Cold War, countries came together to sign the Antarctic Treaty – perhaps the first international disarmament treaty since the end of World War Two. It prevented the potential spread of nuclear and other weapons to the ice continent, declaring it a place for peace and science. In the 1980s, countries again came together to outlaw mining in the region.

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©cover image from Getty Images