The two largest Austrian newspapers “Kronenzeitung” and “Heute” reported on the official visit of a delegation of Expedition Antarctic Blanc to the Hofburg. Together, the publications have a circulation of more than 1.5 million copies per day.
We are grateful to President Alexander Van der Bellen for the invitation, the President’s Press Corps and the press for the publications that support the goal of raising awareness of such important issues as the UNEP Clean Seas Initiative, the fight against microplastics in our oceans, the importance of Antarctica for our ecosystem and the importance of international cooperation and understanding.
Austria has a long standing tradition in Polar Research leading to the Austrian Polar Research Institute, who’s coordinating today the country’s activities in the Arctic and Antarctica
This quote by Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen has been chosen by the Hofburg‘s prestigious press corps to introduce the article about the reception for Expedition Antarctic Blanc on the President‘s website.
The GOST delegation consisting of six members handed over with pride in Vienna’s Hofburg the Antarctic Blanc expedition flag to the President Van der Bellen on January 22, 2019.
The ceremony took 30 minutes and the President received an expedition report, watched the official video, signed the flag and had in-depth discussions with the delegates.
The president who himself is greatly engaged in environmental topics and climate discussions worldwide has listened carefully how a private initiative as the Global Offshore Sailing Team (GOST) has been able to connect nations, politicians, scientists and the civil society to enter deeper into discussions about important historical, environmental and societal topics. With its expeditions GOST hereby became an ambassador for international understanding.
President Van der Bellen also took note that Austria’s ratification of the Environmental Protocol is still missing and is now in contact with the Founding Director of the Austrian Polar Research Institute Prof. Dr. Andreas Richter to examine the topic.
The delegation consisted of Jochen Werne (Expedition Leader);Andris Adam (Chief Liason Officer to Austria and Hungary);Götz Credé (Chief Liaison Officer to Belgium, Denmark and The Netherlands);Dr. Wolfgang Händel (Chief Logistics Officer);Prof. Dr. Andreas Richter (Founding Director of the Austrian Polar Research Institutes)Christin Latk (Expedition Support Team – Akademie der Führungskräfte)
Almost every day, experts in the media try to create a historical analogy for us in order to explain the dynamics and speed with which changes are taking place today at all levels of our lives – from private consumption and our working world to international politics. Often analogies are drawn to different decades of the 20th century. The prominent British historian and Harvard professor Niall Ferguson contradicts these comparisons and sees an analogy rather in the effects that the invention of the printing press in the 15th century had on our lives and on our society. Only that today the changes due to exponential technologies and the Internet take place much faster.
For us as the HUMAN Factor, these comparisons are incredibly important. In times of uncertainty, they help us to better assess the changes and thus at least maintain a certain reassuring feeling of security and explainability. However, if we do not succeed in setting the right filters in times of social media and “information overload”, we run the risk that this feeling of understanding does not materialize and that we all too easily become victims of supposedly simple explanations and “fake news”. Ferguson uses a striking example to illustrate that this is not a new phenomenon and that serious technological changes have also brought major and often turbulent changes to society. In times of the invention of book printing, knowledge was spread more cheaply and a broad part of the population gained access to higher education. One of the first books to be printed in large numbers was the Bible. But also other writings, like “Malleus Maleficarum” or in English the “Hammer of Witches” became famous. The “Fake News” book served to justify the persecution of witches, appeared in 29 editions and has been second place on the book bestseller list for 200 years.
At the latest since the end of the 1990s, since the mass “democratization” of the Internet, our lives have been shaped by the exponential progress of modern technologies. The associated digitalization – the DIGITAL Factor – is not only a technical and economic challenge, but also a societal one. However, the enlightened man began, not to accept everything that a “Beautiful New World”, sometimes reminiscent of Aldous Huxley’s novel, promises. This is shown by citizen projects such as the so-called “Charter of Digital Fundamental Rights” of the European Union.
The word “exponential” automatically hides the logical conclusion that change will take place even faster in the future. These changes affect almost every industry and what is seen today as a billion-dollar future market can quickly become a basic business with significantly lower costs and thus significantly lower profit margins tomorrow. The camera chip of our smartphones costs today only about two to three Euros, a Spotify subscription, and thus the access to an incredible amount of music, only a few Euros a month.
The conclusion for companies in the 21st century is simple: Those who do not understand these exponential dynamics of technical development or do not take them sufficiently into account in their business model can quickly lose touch – not only with customers but also with potential business partners. But why is it so difficult for us to correctly assess the development potential of the technologies? The answer: People think linearly. This is why technologies are usually overestimated at the beginning of their development, but tend to be underestimated in the long run. This was first described in 1965 by the Intel engineer Gordon Moore – later known as Moore´s Law, one of the essential theoretical foundations of the “digital revolution”. In times of exponential technologies, our society risks a split between the group of people with an affinity for digital and digital natives and a group of people who have growing difficulties with the speed of change of our time. The latter have not learnt to keep pace with fast-moving digital innovations due to their low affinity, age or lack of points of contact in everyday life.
Throughout history, new technological possibilities have always come with threatening concepts that have been published and discussed on all media channels available during this period. Today it is: “total transparency”, “transparent consumer”, “constant availability” or even job loss due to ongoing automation and artificial intelligence. At the social and state level, attempts are being made to counteract such fears, to increase competitiveness and to involve the population in the process of change. Two of the many good examples referring to Germany are the strategy on artificial intelligence put in place by the Federal Government and the Platform for Learning Systems initiated by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
It is important never to forget, that every change – even if the trigger is a rapidly developing technology – requires a certain time horizon to be implemented and to create broad acceptance. Here the “CULTURE Factor” often comes into play. One example is cash. While the Scandinavian countries, above all Sweden, are about to digitalize their payment systems to a large extent, in Germany currently about 80 percent of all transactions are carried out with cash.
In every business model, global trends need to be identified, changes need to be driven, and local conditions need to be taken into account in order to be successful in this market. The same formula applies to societal change. Especially when it comes to creating an agenda for the use of new technologies for the benefit of our society.
AUSTRIAN PRESIDENT WILL WELCOME ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION IN VIENNA
On 22 January 2019 at 11 a.m., Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen will welcome a delegation from the international expedition Antarctic Blanc, which was successfully carried out with Austrian assistance. The delegation will present the expedition flag, which represented Austria in Antarctica, as a symbol of remembrance.
POLAR RESEARCH IN AUSTRIA
Austria has a long tradition in polar research, which began with the Austro-Hungarian polar expedition in the 1870s. A milestone in Austrian polar research were the contributions to the International Geophysical Year 1957/58, which formed the basis for a polar focus at the University of Innsbruck. As a result, several renowned scientists carried out research in both the Arctic and Antarctic as part of the programme. After all, the International Polar Year 2007/08 was a great success for Austrian polar research. It strengthened national and international cooperation and led to the foundation of the Austrian Polar Research Institute in 2012.
STORMS AND ICEBERGS
Expedition Antarctic Blanc pursued historical, social and environmental goals. The 12 expedition offshore participants of the initiative, supported by the United Nations and 19 states, crossed on a 20m sailing yacht twice in 12 days, under the toughest conditions, one of the most dangerous sea routes in the world – the Drake Passage, covering 1129 nautical miles (over 2,000km). The journey was marked by the passage of several storm systems in the Antarctic and off Cape Horn, which delayed the return by several days. Winds with up to 50kn, waves up to 8m high and temperatures around freezing point demanded top physical performances from the expedition participants.
INTERNATIONAL COMMEMORATION CEREMONY. Sailing on Historic Routes. The expedition commemorated the researchers, explorers and sailors whose ships had to master the challenging peculiarities of reaching an unknown part of the world. The international team held a commemoration ceremony on the historically significant Antarctic volcanic Deception Island. In the name of all supporting states and the United Nations, a wreath of local ice was symbolically formed and laid down in order to pay international tribute to the achievements in the exploration of this unique continent. The supporting nations are among the signatories of the politically unique Antarctic Treaty of 23 June 1961. Heads of state and government organizations of the 19 nations have expressed their support for this unique, privately initiated expeditions in letters to the leader of the expedition, Jochen Werne, in particular for the execution of the ceremonial act of commemoration.
AUSTRIA AND THE ANTARCTIC TREATY. Austria joined the Antarctic Treaty on 25 August 1987 and, with its signature, also acknowledged that “in the interest of all mankind, Antarctica is used exclusively for peaceful purposes and should not become the scene or object of international discord”. Austria also underlined its commitment to the preservation of this ecosystem as a “nature reserve dedicated to peace and science”.
UNEP CLEAN SEAS INITIATIVE. The main focus of the expedition was to sensitize the international public for the preservation of the unique Antarctic ecosystem and to support the UN initiative Clean Seas to combat plastic waste in the oceans. With Expedition Antarctic Blanc, this important United Nations Environmental Program project is now finding acceptance on all continents of our planet.
CONSEQUENCES OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON THE ECOSYSTEM. In addition, the expedition supported the University of Connecticut and Northeastern University’s research project on plankton metabarcoding by collecting plankton samples, which could provide a fundamental contribution to obtaining rapid responses to the ecosystem’s response to climate change.
WHALES IN THE ANTARCTIC. With the observation of 18 different whales and the detailed documentation of their position and behaviour, the expedition also contributed to the establishment of the global whale observation platform ‘Happy Wales’. The platform is intended to provide science with in-depth insights into the behaviour and development of the largest mammals on our planet.
CHILD AND YOUTH DEVELOPMENT. To promote international children and youth projects, several live broadcasts were held from sea and Antarctica with children of the sailing school of the Yacht Club de Monaco. On their return, the team visited the Cedena Yacht School Puerto Williams, Chile, which is open to children from all walks of life in the southernmost region of our planet, and through sport encourages them to develop their own goals and character traits that are conducive to their personal development. In addition to a donation from the expedition team, the foundation stone was laid for an international exchange and the children were introduced to Antarctica and its significance.
INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION. The visit to the Hofburg marks the third important reception for Expedition Antarctic Blanc after the reception by Prince Albert II in Monaco and the ambassador of the poles of the Netherlands, Carola van Reijnsoever, in The Hague. Further visits to Copenhagen, Paris and Madrid are planned shortly.
Following the flag handover on 22 January 2018 at 11 a.m. in the Hofburg, the expedition participants Jochen Werne and Dr. Wolfgang Händel, Liasion Officers Götz Credé and Andris Adam, as well as the founding director of the Austrian Polar Research Institute Prof. Dr. Andreas Richter and Christin Latk from the Expedition Support Team in the Academy for Leadership will be available to the press for questions and interviews, pictures and filming.
On request, the delegation can also attend press events in Vienna on this day. Accreditation is requested. Please send an e-mail to ExpeditionLeader@AntarcticBlanc.com for this purpose.
Expedition participants – Offshore Team
Jochen Werne Expedition Leader
Marco Schröter Chief Safety Officer
Oliver Picht Navigator & Chief Documentation Officer
Linden Blue Chief Communication Officer
Bernd Görgner Chief Medical Officer
Benon Janos Environmental Initiatives Coordinator
Wolfgang Händel Chief Logistics Officer
Hans Axtner Master of Ceremony
Michael Melnick Chief Sciences Coordinator
David Gamba Chief Observer
Wolf Kloss Skipper and Expedition Yacht Owner
Karl Papenfuss Mate
Comment on the initiator of the expedition – The Global Offshore Sailing Team (GOST)
Expedition “Antarctic Blanc” is the continuation of the polar initiative launched in 2016 with comparable objectives under the name “Arctic Ocean Raptor”, but in the Spitsbergen sea area and up to the Arctic pack ice limit. An additional and important aspect was the commemoration of the seafarers of all nations, who fulfilled their seafaring duties during the maritime operations in the Arctic under the mostly merciless weather conditions and partly also lost their lives. In the name of the Norwegian King Harald V and the Canadian government, a wreath was handed over to the lake; further international support for this expedition came from Belgium, Germany, Great Britain and Italy. Founded in 1999 by Jochen Werne and Guido Zoeller, the Global Offshore Sailing Team is once again committed to maritime history and environmental issues with this particularly challenging expedition and its People’s Diplomacy campaign.
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.