Australia has recommitted to keeping Antarctic free of mining and military

Australia has recommitted to keeping Antarctic free of mining and military

More than 50 countries, including Australia, have renewed their commitment to protect the Antarctic’s environment on the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Antarctic Treaty.

More than 370 representatives, experts from civil society groups and observers from international organisations have been gathering in Prague to attend meetings on the Antarctic since 2 July, according to the Czech Foreign Ministry.

Key topics covered by attendees included the effects of climate change, growing tourism and the dangers of microplastic pollution on the polar region.

The conference’s final declaration, adopted on Thursday (local time), was backed by 54 countries.

It promised to improve co-operation between members and protect the Antarctic’s natural environment.

All countries have also agreed to refrain from mining minerals on Antarctica.

The statement says the Antarctic can be used “only for peaceful purposes, free from measures of a military nature, guaranteeing freedom of scientific investigation and cooperation to that end, and designating Antarctica as a natural reserve devoted to peace and science.”

The treaty’s membership has grown steadily from the 12 countries which first signed it in 1959, among which was Australia.

The next summit will be in Finland from 25 May to 4 June, next year.

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