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Keynote presentation

Does a 54 year-old still have relevance to today’s Antarctica?

Dr Neil Gilbert

Under the auspices of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), Turner et al (2013) recently published an update of SCAR’s 2009 Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment report. The emerging knowledge and understanding of how Antarctic works; how it is changing, and how it might change in the future, is both impressive and sobering. 

As this wealth of knowledge continues to flow from the global science community, how should policy makers respond? Are the Antarctic Treaty Parties, at the national and international level, sufficiently seized of the management and governance challenges that lie ahead? What opportunities are there to change the way we work under the auspices of the current Treaty system, to ensure that the value of Antarctica as a natural reserve devoted to peace and science is maintained into the future?

This talk will explore the relevance of science to the current political governance of Antarctica and consider opportunities to 'modernise' the system through engagement of the research community.


Neil has worked on polar matters for the last 27 years.  In 1985 he joined the British Antarctic Survey as a research scientist completing his PhD on near-shore marine ecology in 1991.  For the field component of his research, Neil spent 21/2 years living and working at the British Antarctic Survey’s Signy Island research station.  Between 1991 and 1994 Neil continued his association with Signy as permanent Base Commander for the station.

After a period working for the UK’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Foods on marine impact studies, Neil was appointed to the position of Deputy Head of the Polar Regions Unit in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1997.  In that capacity Neil represented the UK at meetings of the Antarctic Treaty and its Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP).  He also represented the UK at several Arctic Council Senior Arctic Official and Ministerial meetings.

In 2003 Neil immigrated to New Zealand joining Antarctica New Zealand as Environmental Manager.  In this capacity he has continued to attend meetings of the CEP as New Zealand’s representative.  Between 2006 and 2010 Neil was elected as Chair of the 35-country Committee.

Neil’s particular interests include enhancing the science / policy dialogue and ensuring sufficiency of high quality information to support wise management of Antarctica.  To this end Antarctica New Zealand is working with the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, Australia and others to develop an Antarctic Environments Portal; the purpose of which is to provide a central location for policy-ready information on the state of Antarctic environments.

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Key dates

  • 11th June 2013
    Registrations close
  • 21st June 2013
    Registrations at the AAD open for staff
  • 24th June 2013
    Registrations at the venue open
  • 24th June 2013
    Conference commences
  • 26th June 2013
    Conference concludes

More key dates…

This page was last modified on 17 June 2013.