Minister of Foreign Affairs Gerry Brownlee and Minister of Science and Innovation Paul Goldsmith have today announced that Antarctica New Zealand, in partnership with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, will jointly develop a new Antarctic Science Platform.
“With a mandate to carry out New Zealand’s activities in Antarctica, alongside their existing logistics and infrastructure, Antarctica New Zealand is well positioned to support the delivery of a strategic and collaborative approach to New Zealand’s Antarctic science,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Following consultation with a wide range of sector stakeholders, Antarctica New Zealand has been invited to work with the Ministry to establish the new Platform.”
The Platform will bring together New Zealand’s top experts, facilities, information and knowledge for underpinning, longer-term Antarctic science critical to maximising scientific and strategic benefits for New Zealand.
“An independent governance group will be established to make funding decisions, based on advice and recommendations from the Platform host,” Mr Goldsmith says.
“This governance model will result in most research programmes and projects being developed collaboratively with input from relevant science providers and government agencies.”
$21 million over three years for the Antarctic Science Platform was announced as part of Budget 2017 through the Ministry’s Strategic Science Investment Fund.
This funding is additional to a number of existing sources of support for Antarctic research and will allow strategically aligned research that addresses key priorities for New Zealand.
The priority research areas will include understanding the stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, change in the Antarctic atmosphere and Southern Ocean, threats to ecosystem dynamics in the Ross Sea, and connections between terrestrial and near shore Antarctic environments, including sea ice.
“The Platform science priorities will be supported by three cross-cutting themes of building innovation and interdisciplinary capability, developing long-term data sets, and developing technology,” Mr Goldsmith says.
“Antarctic science is hugely important to New Zealand,” Mr Brownlee says.
“These priorities have a high strategic and scientific value and will ensure we build a strong, internationally connected, and respected Antarctic science programme,” Mr Brownlee says.
MBIE will now work closely with Antarctica New Zealand to develop a Platform Plan. A governance group is expected to be established early next year with the Platform becoming operational from July 2018.