Monday, May 17, 2010

"Does anyone wish to address the comma?"

ASOC just returned from the two-week long Antarctic Treaty meeting in Punta del Este, Uruguay. The results of the meeting from our perspective were mixed. On a positive note, Parties affirmed the importance of climate change to the Antarctic by agreeing to make climate change a major agenda item, and expressed support for the planned network of Marine Protected Areas in the Southern Ocean. However, they failed to make much progress on regulating bioprospecting and tourism or working with the IMO to develop a Polar Code. You can read all about it in our press release.

However, the lack of progress across the board is not really surprising to anyone who attended the meeting. All too often the only issues Parties seem capable of discussing and subsequently agreeing on (many issues come up but little concrete action is taken) are the minor grammatical ones as referenced in the title of this post, which is an actual quote from the meeting. Of course some issues are going to be contentious, and I don't expect Parties to swoop in and take care of all issues within a few days, but it seems that there is a disappointing lack of enthusiasm for difficult work. Ignoring problems won't make them go away.

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