Authored  by Wendy Pring


Our sessions on leadership have made me aware of the similarities between the Antarctic Treaty and the UN17 SDG Goal Nr 16- Peace Justice and Strong Institutions. And how we all have individual agency to role-model this and the benefit of collective action in maintaining a balanced peaceful approach for climate adaptation measures.

The Antarctic Treaty declares to “commit themselves to the comprehensive protection of the Antarctic environment and dependent and associated ecosystems and, designate Antarctica as a natural reserve, devoted to peace and science.”

UN17SDG Goal nr 16 is about “promoting peaceful and inclusive societies, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.”

Peace is a fundamental precondition for social and economic development. Strong institutions with compassionate and inclusive approaches will ensure equal access to justice. Conflict as well as being divisive and exclusionary also weakens our ability to manage the limited resources that we have.

Recognising that this complex balance of managing all actors involved is difficult, and requires strong, consistent and inclusive leadership behaviours to create the right environment. The Antarctic Treaty has perhaps a more tangible and urgent need for this given it has now gone from 12 countries to 59 and by 2048 there will be a renewal of protocols. Gaps in governance and purpose of this treaty may be exploited through conflict beyond the boundaries of Antarctica. With many countries expressing targets of ‘net zero’ by 2050- the importance, visibility and success of the renewal of protocols could derail sustainable futures.

Why would there need to be protection of Antarctica? The importance of the sea ice plays a crucial part in regulating global temperatures. Peacebuilding also focuses on social and economic development as this reduces vulnerabilities and increases resilience. In recognising the interconnectedness of peace and climate with regards to resources and damage to large areas of the lands, we require operating with new mindsets and approaches where we can move into leadership roles recognizing the need to collaborate and hold space for others.

How can we simulate, extend and nurture this role modelling and the behaviours needed to tackle the wicked problem of climate change. The Antarctic Treaty now has 29 consultive countries and 27 non consultive countries. We, at Homeward Bound on Island Sky, represent over 18 countries. How can we demonstrate through peaceful behaviours continued focus for this important facet of climate change?

The Antarctic Treaty is at risk going forward of possible exploitation of natural resources and as tourism increases… leadership is a key factor in the robustness of the ongoing succession. Recognising the importance of custodianship versus ownership, the importance of the success of this treaty in unlocking other global conversations. Is regulation failing to call out the remains of bad behaviour for fear of setting off future repercussions? Is there misuse of power amongst the parties involved and can the wider objectives and targets of Goal Nr 16 start to simplify the ability to regulate parties involved in a peaceful and collaborative way?

This involves constructive leadership styles as shared in our Lifestyle Inventory assessments. What can our Homeward Bound cohorts bring to the table in generating global purpose and change? It challenges us to recognise where our leaderships styles are and where they need to be to operate empathetically to the environment in Antarctica and beyond. Is there room for a Homeward Bound Treaty?