Joint media release: 30th anniversary of key Antarctic agreement

5 October 2021

The Hon Scott Morrison MP, Prime Minister
The Hon Marise Payne MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for Women
The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for the Environment


Our Government was pleased to join leaders from other Antarctic Treaty nations to mark the 30th anniversary of the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty, also known as the Madrid Protocol, hosted virtually by Spanish Prime Minister Sánchez.

Australia played a leading role in initiating development of the Madrid Protocol, which was adopted on 4 October 1991, at the conclusion of the Special Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting held in Madrid, Spain. It is a historic pact to protect the Antarctic wilderness.

Australia’s commitment to the study and conservation of Antarctica is long-standing, including our early history of exploration, world-class scientific research today, permanent presence in the Australian Antarctic Territory, and Hobart’s important role as a key gateway to the continent.

Antarctica and the Southern Ocean now face unprecedented challenges including the impacts of climate change, illegal fishing and marine pollution.

By meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement and continually improving the world’s environmental practices to protect Antarctica’s cherished biodiversity and marine environment, we are determined to do our part to meet these challenges.

Australia has been a leader in Antarctic preservation efforts since the expedition of one of our greatest national heroes, Sir Douglas Mawson, and his companions over a century ago.

We will continue to work closely with our fellow Antarctic Treaty parties in support of peace, science and environmental protection in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.

We commend Prime Minister Sánchez for marking this momentous occasion.