Monash University leads $36 million global collaboration to secure Antarctica’s future

The Australian Government has awarded $36 million to a research program led by Monash University, Securing Antarctica’s Environmental Future (SAEF).

The funding announced today (Tuesday 21 April) by Federal Education Minister, The Honourable Dan Tehan MP, will be awarded under the Australian Research Council’s Special Research Initiative for Excellence in Antarctic Science.

Change in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean is occurring rapidly, with significant implications for its landscapes, resources and influence on Australia.

In response, the SAEF program will deliver world-leading research that aims to forecast environmental change across the Antarctic, deploy effective environmental stewardship strategies, and secure Antarctica as a natural reserve devoted to peace and science.

Professor Steven Chown, from Monash University’s School of Biological Sciences, will direct SAEF. Professor Chown is also the President of the international Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research and Program Lead for Sustainable Development at Monash.

“This is a critical investment in the future of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean,” Professor Chown said.

“In a world of rapidly changing environments and geopolitical realities, our work will be transformational in the insights and advantages it provides.

“SAEF will ensure Australia’s global leadership in the Antarctic, delivering unprecedented current and future research capability for securing the Antarctic.”

SAEF is a joint program with the Queensland University of Technology, University of Wollongong, University of New South Wales, James Cook University, University of Adelaide, the Western Australian Museum, and the South Australian Museum, with government agencies, notably the Australian Antarctic Division, and Geoscience Australia, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, and the Bureau of Meteorology.

SAEF’s collaboration extends to 30 organisations in Australia and abroad, including links with the Antarctic national programs of Chile, Norway, South Africa and the UK, and with the Department of Conservation in New Zealand.

Monash University President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Margaret Gardner AC welcomed the announcement.

“As experts in research on the Antarctic region, Monash is delighted to be leading this initiative,” Professor Gardner said.

“We are in a remarkable position to make a positive change to the future of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, to the benefit of Australia and the world.

“Our world-class research and key collaborations are already making an impact in an Antarctic Treaty setting and through international agreements to secure better lives for people across the globe.”

Monash University Provost and Senior Vice-President Professor Marc Parlange said the SAEF program demonstrated the University’s endeavour to pioneer unique research that benefits communities worldwide.

“Monash is uniquely placed and motivated to mobilise communities to adopt sustainable practice, as articulated by the Sustainable Development Goals,” Professor Parlange said.

“This wonderful outcome confirms the University’s position as a pioneer in addressing the most significant environmental, social and geopolitical challenges of our time.”