The German Environment Agency and the Antarctic

Protecting the Antarctic is one of the tasks of the Federal Environment Agency.Click to enlarge
Protecting the Antarctic is one of the tasks of the German Environment Agency.
Source: Fritz Hertel/UBA

It is difficult at first glance to see the connection between a German environment agency and the Antarctic - after all, Germany has no territorial claims in the eternal ice. However, Germany is a Party to the Antarctic Treaty and thus assumes responsibility for the Antarctic. The German Environment Agency (UBA) helps to meet these responsibilities.

UBA as competent authority

The German Act implementing the Protocol of Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty of 4 October 1991 (AUG) is aimed at the protection of the environment in the Antarctic and its dependent and related ecosystems. The AUG transposes the international provisions of the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty into national law and identifies the German Environment Agency as the national competent authority. This means that any planned activity in the Antarctic which is organised in Germany or departs from German territory must be granted approval from UBA. Any and all activities of this kind are subject to strict requirements as concerns the protection of the ultra-sensitive Antarctic environment.

A broad range of tasks

UBA is more than just a national competent authority. In addition to enforcement of AUG, it executes other tasks related to the Antarctic and its protection in a broader sense. These tasks include information of the public through press releases, publications, guidelines and seminars, national and international reporting activities, and drafting informational and position papers that are used by national and international institutions.

UBA is also actively involved in environmental protection and the further development of environmental protection in the Antarctic, for example as the national contact point (CEP Contact Point) for the international Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP). The CEP consults the Parties to the  Antarctic Treaty and issues recommendations for measures to improve environmental protection in the Antarctic.

UBA also commissions research projects.UBA also hosts expert events and workshops, whose purpose is mainly to discuss open questions about enforcement of the AUG and the further development of environmental protection in the Antarctic. The Agency cooperates with other authorities and institutions, which are listed in the right column under 'Links'.

Who uses the work and services of the German Environment Agency?
Source: Umweltbundesamt