Authored by Maria De Giano, Anna Ferré Mateu, Claudia Alvarado
We are at a tipping point…
“Mother nature needs her daughters EVERYWHERE”- that was the message today from Homeward Bound Faculty presenter Fern Hames as we discussed how we will connect with Antarctica as a destination, a global common, a fragile ecosystem, as well as a teacher and mentor.
Fern’s message made me reflect on our collective responsibility to the world’s important ecosystems. I thought about the inherent connections between Antarctica (our destination), the Amazon (the focus of my work), and the United States (where I call home). Recent research has indicated that carbon emissions have already pushed both Antarctica and the Amazon towards critical climate tipping points. Our work and our leadership are more urgent than ever to mitigate climate change and reduce biodiversity loss.
Tipping points can also bring positive change. When I look around our floating classroom on the Island Sky ship, with my 100-strong Homeward Bound community, I feel the energy behind an inflection point in leadership. Together we are building momentum towards new models of leadership, emerging from a sense of shared responsibility, a commitment to collaboration across boundaries, and the recognition that we must embrace the uncertainty of what is beyond the tipping point and #keepsailingtogether
So, what can we do?
Photo: HB Group Action, Credit: Jen Martin
Become an Ambassador for Antarctica
Antarctica is the only continent that does not belong to any country but instead is managed and protected by a coalition of countries bound by the Antarctic Treaty. Signed by 12 countries in 1959, it has expanded ever since, and now includes 56 countries. The Treaty operates on a consensus basis and is an exceptional example of a collaborative effort and governance #strongertogether
The Treaty informs the work of IAATO (the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators). Created in 1991, this body advocates for, promotes, and practices safe and environmentally responsible tourism in Antarctica. IAATO ensures that people visiting Antarctica follow very strict protocols to leave the environment as much untouched as possible #conscioustourism
Although we are here in a professional capacity rather than as tourists, many of us have had (and might still have) mixed feelings about coming all the way to Antarctica and the footprint we leave in this pristine, remote land. However, thanks to the very strict protocols that the IAATO enforces, we can help make our presence worthwhile by becoming ambassadors of this icy land, and inspire others to protect it. One of the IAATO protocols addresses the biosecurity risk of foreign matter or invasive species being transported to Antarctica. Our boots, jackets, pants, gloves, beanies and daypacks all need to be thoroughly checked, cleaned, and vacuumed to ensure we are not packing any invasive species #polaralienhunters
Photo collage of the biosecurity cleaning and/or IATTO logo. Photo credits: Heidi Victoria, Kirsten Maclean (logo, credit of IATTO)
Become a Planet Ambassador
Our everyday lives sometimes disconnect us from nature and blind us to the impact that our activities cause to the land, forests, rivers, and oceans. Have you ever imagined that the garbage from your city could end up in one of the six garbage patches floating in the ocean? Could you imagine that the southern currents may bring your garbage to Patagonia and Antarctica?
During our visit to the Falkland Islands coastline we found plastic debris, rope, and garbage on one remote beach and we could not resist doing a beach clean-up.
We are about to reach Antarctica and ready to experience the awe of this pristine and unique place, hoping to find Mother Nature in her purest form.
It is in your hands to become a Planet Ambassador #thetimenow
Photo of beach clean-up. Credit: Stephanie Ordoñez