The Hague, 7 December 2018 – An exciting part of The Netherlands’ 2018 Polar Symposium has been the ceremonial presentation of the Antarctic Blanc expedition flag to the Arctic Ambassador of The Netherlands, Ms. Carola Van Rijnsoever by a delegation of the Global Offshore Sailing.
This special occasion recognized the commitment of The Netherlands in preserving Antarctica as a natural reserve, devoted to peace and science. In addition, it’s has also been an opportunity to remember the explorers, scientists and sailors who set foot on the Antarctic continent to discover and made us all aware how beautiful and equally important this ecosystem and its protection for our planet is.
In his speech, Antarctic Blanc expedition leader Jochen Werne emphasised the importance of the Antarctic Treaty not only for the white continent, but also as an encouraging diplomatic achievement that underscores the human capacity to peacefully find intelligent solutions, even when it comes to jointly administer an entire continent.
He underscored, that by visiting and exploring our planet’s poles, the Netherland’s Polar Programme scientists, in collaboration with the international community of polar scientists have been a great inspiration for future generations of scientists and explorers worldwide. Due to the engagement for the Antarctic, and the establishment of the Dutch Dirck Gerritsz Laboratory at the British Rothera Research Station in 2013, The Netherlands today play an important role for the future of the white continent. By acceding the Antarctic Treaty on March 30, 1967 with the goal that “in the interest of all mankind Antarctica shall continue forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and shall not become the scene or object of international discord”, The Netherlands underlined its commitment as one of the leading countries engaged in preserving this ecosystem as “a natural reserve, devoted to peace and science”. This has been made clear to everyone by The Netherland’s signature to the Antarctic Environment Protocol on January 14, 1998.
After the ceremony Dutch Arctic Ambassador Carola von Rijnsoever also signed the expedition flag underlining the strong commitment of The Netherlands to Antarctica. Prior in this year His Serene Highness Prince Albert II underlined Monaco’s commitment with his signature given in a ceremony at the Yacht Club de Monaco.
In February 2018, inspired by the era of the great explorers, the 12 members of the international Expedition ANTARTIC BLANC set sail to Antarctica through one of the most dangerous seaways on the planet, the Drake-Passage. Their aim was to raise international awareness and draw attention to the essential need to maintain and protect the unique Antarctic ecosystem. On Deception Island, the Expedition recognized the Antarctic explorers and the establishment of the Antarctic Treaty, in a solemn and dignified manner, paying tribute in the form of an international commemoration ceremony. A wreath formed out of Antarctic ice, was laid in the name of 19 nations, which gave permission to officially act on behalf of them. In addition, ANTARCTIC BLANC supported the UNEP’s “Clean Seas” initiative to combat plastic waste in and on the world’s oceans. Furthermore, the expedition gathered data for the University of Connecticut’s and the Northeastern University’s Ocean Genome Legacy Center Research Project for the meta-barcoding of plankton, which in turn could play a fundamental role in providing answers to the ecosystem’s response to climate change.