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The Rules-Based Order in Antarctica and Global Challenges


Sep. 27 – 28, 2023
9:00am – 4:30pm ET


On September 27 and 28, the Wilson Center, in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the US Coast Guard, US Department of State, Battelle, Lindblad Expeditions, and Hurtigruten Expeditions, hosted the first-ever conference on Antarctic policy in Washington, DC, with the aim of elevating dialogue on Antarctica’s connection to key US national interests. 

Speakers and panels explored the future of Antarctica and its treaty system in the face of global competition and attempts to undermine the rules-based order. The crucial role of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean in global climate were discussed, as well as key policy issues relating to fisheries, tourism, conservation, and scientific research. The conference raised awareness of core US national interests in Antarctica, and highlighted urgent priorities for the US to retain its leadership and build key relationships to meet urgent challenges.

Featured speakers included Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Vice Admiral Peter Gautier (US Coast Guard), Deputy Administrator Jainey K. Bavishi (NOAA), and Major General Denise Donnell (New York Air National Guard). Please see the full agenda beneath the video recaps.

Photo of Jainey Bavishi
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Video Recap

Day 1 Morning Sessions

The morning of Day 1 included the "Geopolitics and Competitors in Antarctica" and "U.S. National Interests in Antarctica" panel sessions and keynote remarks from Jane Lubchenco, Cassandra Brooks, and Jainey Bavishi.

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Photo of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse
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Video Recap

Day 1 Afternoon Sessions

On the afternoon of Day 1, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse provided keynote remarks in between the "Upholding the Rules-Based Order in Practice" panel and the "Antarctic Ice, Ocean Circulation, Polar Satellites, and Global Climate" panel.

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Photo of panelists during the Antarctic Conference
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Video Recap

Day 2 Morning Sessions

"View from the Bridge: Antarctic Icebreaker Operations" with CAPT Kenneth Boda and and CAPT Keith Ropella kicked off the morning of Day 2, followed by the "Exploring Tourism, Access, Safety, and Awareness" panel and the "Fireside Chat: Critical Capabilities Enabling the US Presence in Antarctica" with Maj. Gen. Denise Donnell and Mike Emerson.

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Photo of Becca Pincus
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Video Recap

Day 2 Afternoon Sessions

The afternoon of Day 2 included keynote remarks from VADM Peter Gautier and the "Partners and Relationships" and "From Whales to Krill: Conservation, MPAs, and the Environment" panels.

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Hosted By

Polar Institute

Since its inception in 2017, the Polar Institute has become a premier forum for discussion and policy analysis of Arctic and Antarctic issues, and is known in Washington, DC and elsewhere as the Arctic Public Square. The Institute holistically studies the central policy issues facing these regions—with an emphasis on Arctic governance, climate change, economic development, scientific research, security, and Indigenous communities—and communicates trusted analysis to policymakers and other stakeholders.  Read more

Environmental Change and Security Program

The Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP) explores the connections between environmental change, health, and population dynamics and their links to conflict, human insecurity, and foreign policy.  Read more

Latin America Program

The Wilson Center’s prestigious Latin America Program provides non-partisan expertise to a broad community of decision makers in the United States and Latin America on critical policy issues facing the Hemisphere. The Program provides insightful and actionable research for policymakers, private sector leaders, journalists, and public intellectuals in the United States and Latin America. To bridge the gap between scholarship and policy action, it fosters new inquiry, sponsors high-level public and private meetings among multiple stakeholders, and explores policy options to improve outcomes for citizens throughout the Americas. Drawing on the Wilson Center’s strength as the nation’s key non-partisan policy forum, the Program serves as a trusted source of analysis and a vital point of contact between the worlds of scholarship and action.  Read more

Thank you for your interest in this event. Please send any feedback or questions to our Events staff.