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Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) UPSC NOTE

 Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) 

  • Delegates from over 60 countries have convened in Kochi, Kerala to attend the 46th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) 

  • An annual affair, this is in essence a meeting of the ‘Consultative Parties,’ or the 29 countries that have a right to vote on affairs concerning the management of the continent

  • Other attendees are countries with a non-voting ‘observer’ status as well as independent experts and invited functionaries

  • One of the interesting points on the agenda this time relates to tourism

  • A group of ‘like-minded’ countries, that includes India, pressed for a proposal to introduce a regulatory framework governing tourism in the continent

  • Unlike other continents, the Antarctica does not have its own indigenous population.

  • With millions of hectares of untrammelled ice and its geographical isolation, it is not a tourist’s everyday jamboree

  • In this day and age, where every navigable square inch of land is up for fleeting, visual consumption, the Antarctica is the only continent that can be described as wild, its secrets buried under kilometres-thick blankets of ice. 

  • Given that the creation, capture and marketing of the ‘exotic’ experience is an industry that guarantees exponential returns, the Antarctica is now the ‘wild south’ that the wealthy traveller aspires to. 

  • A recent joint study by universities in Tasmania, the U.K. and Australia said that the number of tourists rose from 8,000 in 1993 to 1,05,000 in 2022. 

  • This does not include all the scientific expeditions and the long-term presence of scientific personnel at research stations maintained by different countries. 

  • Reports now suggest that the number of tourists exceeds scientists. 

  • To be sure, concerns about rising tourists have been expressed since 1966 at the consultative meets, with the attendant worries that more ships and more people mean more man-made pollutants and rising instances of accidents and disasters that lead to upsetting the unique biodiversity of the region

  • This urge to preserve the pristine purity of the continent — estimated to be the size of the United States and Mexico combined — however conceals the underlying anxiety of all nations. 

India’s view

  • Though India’s Antarctica-bound tourists are minimal, this could very well change in the days to come, thanks to growing lopsided prosperity. 

  • While a proponent of the proposal, India must be wary of any deal that could undercut future opportunities from tourism.


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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) UPSC NOTE
Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) UPSC NOTE
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