Utrecht University receives funding for research on Antarctic tourism

Utrecht University, Wageningen University & Research, University of Canterbury (New Zealand) and Lincoln University (New Zealand) have received 1 million euros from the Dutch Research Council (NWO) to conduct interdisciplinary research on Antarctic tourism. The project will commence in early 2023 and will last for four years.

Erik Molenaar is one of the co-applicants of the project proposal. He is affiliated with the Netherlands Institute for the Law of the Sea (NILOS) and the Utrecht Centre for Water, Oceans and Sustainability Law (UCWOSL), of Utrecht University.

The research project is titled “ANTARC-SHIP: Fostering environmental stewardship among Antarctic tourism governance actors and institutions”. The key concerns underpinning the ANTARC-SHIP project are the growth and diversification of Antarctic tourism and the rather minimal extent of intergovernmental regulation of Antarctic tourism by the Antarctic Treaty System. The aim of the ANTARC-SHIP project is to examine to what extent, and how, environmental stewardship can be assessed, enhanced, and facilitated among the different actors and institutions involved in the operation and governance of Antarctic tourism.

The ANTARC-SHIP project consists of the following four work packages:

  1. Antarctic tourism and science as interdependent operations: a comparative assessment of environmental impacts and stewardship practices;
  2. The durability of self-regulated stewardship in the Antarctic tourism industry: dealing with internal and external challenges;
  3. Custodians for the Antarctic: Assessing and managing Antarctic tourism impacts in the gateway cities; and
  4. Stewardship through state and intergovernmental regulation of environmental impacts and risks of Antarctic shipborne tourism.

The research in work package 4 relates to the domain of the international law (of the sea) and will be led by Molenaar and supported by various stakeholders. A 3-year Postdoc will be hired to conduct research on the current and evolving regulation at the national and intergovernmental level (in particular the Antarctic Treaty System and the International Maritime Organisation), with a particular emphasis on underwater noise generated by shipping.

This UU international law research on Antarctic tourism under the ANTARC-SHIP project will complement the UU’s ongoing international law research on Antarctic tourism under the ProAct project.

This project forms part of the Dutch Research Agenda (NWA) programme "Polar Tourism – Research Programme on Assessment of Impacts and Responses’ (PT-REPAIR)" and is intended to support policy developments in the Netherlands and beyond with the aim of protecting the values of the Antarctic Treaty and the Netherlands Polar Strategy.

More about the research programme at the NWO website