Steven Chown awarded Madrid Protocol Medal

The Ambassador of France to Australia, Jean-Pierre Thébault last night awarded to SAEF Director, Professor Steven Chown a unique medal.

The medal commemorates the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (Madrid Protocol).

The medal was presented in Hobart to recognise Steven for his extensive and highly-regarded contributions to the protection of the Antarctic environment.

The Madrid Protocol is a significant international agreement which designates the entire continent as ‘a natural reserve, devoted to peace and science’. It commits signatories to ensuring all human activities in the area covered by the Treaty are aligned with protecting the environment.

It was established through collaborative leadership between France and Australia in 1989, in response to attempts to open the continent to mining and oil drilling. Australia worked alongside France to drive international negotiations that led to the signing of the protocol in 1991. In commemoration of this landmark agreement, the award recognises a scientist whose research has made an outstanding contribution to reinforce the spirit of the Madrid Protocol. It was open to researchers from the 41 countries that have ratified the Madrid Protocol, including Australia, United Kingdom, USA, Japan, China and Germany.

Steven’s entire career has been devoted to the protection of the Antarctic environment. He has spent over 30 years conducting research focused on environmental change and policy development for the protection of the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic regions. His research has delivered unique insights into the biodiversity and ecology of the region. One of his main research interests is in understanding the impacts of environmental change on Antarctic biodiversity. He is also known for his studies on invasive species and their impacts on the Antarctic environment.

Throughout his career he has also led and supervised many works on Antarctic conservation, including assessments of the network of specially protected areas and works to identify conservation challenges and a means to mitigate them. In addition to his scientific pursuits, Steven has long been active in supporting the objective of the Madrid Protocol through his involvement in organisations dedicated to the protection of Antarctica, especially through the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR). He has spent many years ensuring that scientific evidence makes its way into policy and practice and served as President of SCAR from 2016 to 2021.

He has been an advocate for developing the next generation of Antarctic scientists and this work will continue as director of Securing Antarctica’s Environmental Future. While in Hobart, Steven will present a public lecture “Biodiversity of the Antarctic” on Thursday 17 February at 5:30pm.

For more details visit afran.org.au/far-in-antarctica.

About the author

Anna Quinn

Anna is the senior communications adviser at SAEF.