Launch of Antarctica Season 2019
Antarctica is a unique part of our planet. It is the coldest, driest, highest and windiest continent, and therefore most hostile. Success in understanding phenomena in this last wilderness will depend on serious national investments in deepening knowledge using human capital including technology. We need to provide for year-round access instead of just in summer, and, undertaking research away from existing bases, will place additional strain to already astronomical costs.
In the past, as government we have not had intimate relations with the programmes that leave for Antarctica from Cape Town. In the light of what I have already said about the costs that have to be borne, it is our intention to make South Africa and Cape Town a better Gateway to Antarctica. We would like to encourage greater cooperation and exchanges in the area of our countries scientific work.
In South Africa we have pockets of excellence in our research institutions. However, the scope of our work may appear to be relatively narrow. We see it as necessary to work with all 10 countries to build capacities. In addition, we seek greater cooperation in logistics as well as transporting of cargo. It is our hope that this Antarctica Season Launch will be a springboard for future cooperation.
South Africa relies to the extent of 2.5% of GDP on agricultural production: agriculture, forestry and fisheries. Hazards that are exacerbated by climate change such as global warming, droughts, storm surges, sea level rise and ocean acidification, pose an unprecedented risk to Agricultural production and food security. Antarctica plays an important role in the understanding of climate patterns worldwide. In mitigating the risks to food security, South Africa plans to utilise its established Antarctica and Southern Ocean presence to better understand and predict weather patterns.
The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) in partnership with the Department of Public Enterprises and the Norwegian Polar Institute will launch the 2019/2020 South African Antarctica season on 2 December 2019 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
This year’s Antarctica Season launch will focus on the importance of Polar work. Ambassadors and Consulates-General of the 10 countries that utilise Cape Town as a gateway to Antarctica and key stakeholders will be in attendance.
One of the ways other Gateway nations have employed to generate an interest in Antarctica has been to hold an Antarctic launch or festival at the beginning of the Antarctic season (November to March). During the launch they celebrate their explorers, science, and remember those who perished in Antarctica endeavours. The Antarctica season in South Africa starts with the departure of SA Agulhas II during the first week of December. This year the week will coincide with a planned visit to Antarctica by senior government officials. Since 2016 the Department of Environment Affairs has held seminars with the Norwegians over two days during this time. For 2019 it is proposed that the seminar be held over three days and the countries that leave for Antarctica from Cape Town plus China be invited to participate.
The theme proposed is “Importance and impact of polar activities in your country”. The seminar will encourage an exchange of ideas and networking among those that occupy the same geographic space, Cape Town, in December. Capacity building is seen as an important component of these activities.
This year the 4 day event will be held in Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC). Various stakeholders will be invited to exhibit their work. Ambassadors/Consulates General of the ten countries that utilise Cape Town as a Gateway to the Antarctica and key stakeholders will be invited to the Antarctica Season Launch.
The seminar itself will have the following components:
- Polar Gateways, and
- Polar logistics.