Skip to main content

High level Antarctic EIA under the Madrid Protocol: state practice and the effectiveness of the Comprehensive Environmental Evaluation process

Abstract

The 1991 Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (Madrid Protocol), the latest instrument of the Antarctic Treaty system (ATS), establishes environmental standards to manage 10% of the planet. Under the Madrid Protocol, all activities subject to advance notice reporting obligations under the 1959 Antarctic Treaty are required to undergo prior Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The highest level EIA—termed a Comprehensive Environmental Evaluation (CEE)—requires international scrutiny. This is the only form of EIA where such scrutiny occurs and the only context under the Madrid Protocol or any other part of the ATS where the proposed actions of State Parties, or operators subject to their jurisdiction, are subject to formal international review. Whilst this review does not provide a veto, it has been viewed as an important development in the Antarctic multilateral regime. To date, there have been 19 CEEs. This article reviews the Antarctic CEE process and evaluates its application in practice against the environmental obligations established in the Protocol. Whilst most CEEs are substantial documents and processes, which have raised the standard of environmental care in the area, there are significant generic limitations. Not one CEE appears to have led to substantial modification of the activity as first elaborated by the proponent, let alone a decision not to proceed with the activity, despite this being a mandatory consideration. There are indications that the imperatives in the CEE process are often administrative and diplomatic rather than environmental and that notwithstanding the international scrutiny of draft CEEs, state action may not be significantly changed. Suggestions are made on improvements to the CEE process. The Madrid Protocol is a framework convention, designed so that its technical annexes, including that addressing EIA, may be periodically updated. Twelve years after its entry into force, and almost 20 years after its adoption, such updating may now be useful.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Notes

  1. The term coined to encompass the 1959 Antarctic Treaty, the 1972 Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Seals, the 1980 Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, the 1991 Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty, all of which are in force; the 1988 Convention on the Regulation of Antarctic Mineral Resource Activities, which is not in force nor likely to become so; and the subsidiary obligations under these instruments.

  2. Article 7.

  3. Article 2.

  4. A cumulative listing of IEEs and CEEs from 1988 to date is provided on an EIA database maintained by Antarctic Treaty Secretariat http://www.ats.aq/devAS/ep_eia_list.aspx?lang=e (last visited 10.1.10 at which time there were still 32 CEE documents).

  5. Bastmeijer and Roura (2008, pp. 210–217) also use Lake Vostok as a case study, although the cut-off point for their study is late 2006, and there have been discussions about the activity since then.

  6. Copy on file with authors.

  7. Copy on file with authors.

Abbreviations

ATCM:

Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting

ATCP:

Antarctic Treaty Consultative Party

ATS:

Antarctic Treaty system

CEE:

Comprehensive Environmental Evaluation

CEP:

Committee for Environmental Protection

IEE:

Initial Environmental Evaluation

EIA:

Environmental Impact Assessment

References

  • Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC). (2000). Antarctic Strategic Environmental Assessment: Application to the growing Antarctic tourism industry. IP 10 tabled at XII Antarctic Treaty Special Consultative Meeting, The Hague, 11–15 September 2000.

  • Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC). (2001). Strategic needs and decision-making in Antarctica. IP 54 tabled at XXIV Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. St Petersburg, 9–20 July 2001.

  • Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC). (2002). Strategic Environmental Assessment in Antarctica: A “Stepping Stone” to Madrid Protocol objectives. IP 82 tabled at XXV Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. Warsaw, 10–20 September 2002.

  • Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC). (2007). Strengthening the CEE process. IP 84 tabled at XXX Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. New Delhi, 30 April–11 May 2007.

  • Antarctic Treaty Secretariat. (2005). Final Report of the 28th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. Stockholm, 6–17 June 2005.

  • Antarctic Treaty Secretariat. (2009a). Annual list of Initial Environmental Evaluations (IEE) and Comprehensive Environmental Evaluations (CEE) prepared between April 1st 2008 and March 31st 2009. SP 10 rev. 1 tabled at XXXII Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. Baltimore, 6–17 April 2009.

  • Antarctic Treaty Secretariat. (2009b). Final Report of the 32nd Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. Baltimore, 6–17 April 2009.

  • Bastmeijer, K. (2003). The Antarctic environmental protocol and its domestic legal implementation. The Hague: Kluwer.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bastmeijer, K., & Roura, R. (2008). Environmental impact assessment in Antarctica. In K. Bastmeijer & T. Koivurova (Eds.), Theory and practice of transboundary environmental impact assessment (pp. 175–219). Leiden: Martinus Nijhof.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Benninghoff, W. S., & Bonner, W. N. (1985). Man’s impact on the Antarctic environment: A procedure for evaluating impacts from scientific and logistic activities. Cambridge: Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research.

    Google Scholar 

  • Brazil. (1987). Final Report of the Fourteenth Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. Rio De Janeiro, 5–16 October 1987.

  • Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP). (1998). Annex E: 201–220, Report of the Committee for Environmental Protection. Final Report of the Twenty-second Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. Tromsø, 25 May–5 June 1998.

  • Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP). (1999). Annex F: 153–187, Report of the Committee for Environmental Protection. Final Report of the Twenty-third Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. Lima, 24 May–4 June 1999.

  • Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP). (2000). Annex D: 12–37, Report of the Committee for Environmental Protection. Final Report of the Twelfth Antarctic Treaty Special Consultative Meeting. The Hague, 11–15 September 2000.

  • Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP). (2002). Annex E: 60–99, Report of the Committee for Environmental Protection. Final Report of the Twenty-fifth Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. Warsaw, 10–20 September 2002.

  • Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP). (2003). Annex E: 295–337, Report of the Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP VI). Final Report of the XXVI Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. Madrid, 9–20 June 2003.

  • Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP). (2006). Annex E: 267–323, Report of the Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP IX). Final Report of the Twenty-ninth Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. Edinburgh, 12–23 June 2006.

  • Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP). (2007). Annex E: 197–265, Report of the Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP X). Final Report of the Thirtieth Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. New Delhi, 30 April–11 May 2007.

  • Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP). (2008). Annex E: 399–476, Report of the Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP XI). Final Report of the Thirty-first Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. Kyiv, 2–13 June 2008.

  • Committee on Principles of Environmental Stewardship for the Exploration, Study of Subglacial Environments. (2007). Exploration of Antarctic subglacial aquatic environments: Environmental and scientific stewardship. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs (COMNAP). (1992) The Antarctic environmental assessment process: Practical guidelines. Bologna, June 20, 1991, revised Washington DC, March 4 1992.

  • Fallon, L., & Kriwoken, L. K. (2005). Environmental impact assessment under the protocol on environmental protection to the Antarctic Treaty and Australian legislation. Macquarie Journal of International and Comparative Environmental Law, 2, 67–103.

    Google Scholar 

  • France. (2003). The report of the intersessional contact group convened by France to consider the Lake Vostok CEE. WP 36 tabled at XXVI Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. Madrid, 9–20 June 2003.

  • Hemmings, A. D., & Roura, R. (2003). A square peg in a round hole: Fitting impact assessment under the Antarctic environmental protocol to Antarctic tourism. Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal, 21, 13–24.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hemmings, A. D., Scott, K. R., & Rogan-Finnemore, M. (2007). Broadening the duty in relation to Environmental Impact Assessment across the legal instruments applying in Antarctica. Restoring the Rule of Law in International Affairs. 15th Annual Conference of the Australia & New Zealand Society of International Law, Canberra, 28–30 June 2007. http://www.worldlii.org/int/journals/IHLRes/2007/11.html#fn1.

  • Heymann, G., Erasmus, T., Huntley, B. J., Liebenberg, A. C., Retief, G. F., Condy, P. R. et al (1987). Report to the Minister of Environment Affairs on an Environmental Impact Assessment of a proposed emergency landing facility on Marion Island—1987. Pretoria: South African National Scientific Programmes Report No. 140.

  • India. (2009). Update on the comprehensive environmental evaluation of new Indian research base at Larsemann Hills, Antarctica. IP 29 tabled at XXXII Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. Baltimore, 6–17 April 2009.

  • Japan. (1994). Final Report of the Eighteenth Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. Kyoto, 11–22 April 1994.

  • Kriwoken, L. K., & Rootes, D. (2000). Tourism on ice: Environmental impact assessment of Antarctic tourism. Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal, 18, 138–150.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lyons, D. (1993). Environmental impact assessment in Antarctica under the Madrid Protocol. Polar Record, 29, 111–120.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nature. (2004). News: Russian bid to drill Antarctic lake gets chilly response. Nature, 430, 494.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nature. (2008). News: Russia delays Lake Vostok drill. Nature, 454, 258.

    Google Scholar 

  • Netherlands. (1996). Final Report of the Twentieth Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. Utrecht, 29 April–10 May 1996.

  • New Zealand. (1996). New Zealand experience and practice in relation to Preliminary Stage assessment under Article 1, Annex I of the Protocol. IP 3 tabled at XX Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. Utrecht, 29 April–10 May 1996.

  • New Zealand. (1997a). Report on intersessional work. WP 34 tabled at XXI Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting, Christchurch, 19–30 May 1997.

  • New Zealand. (1997b). Further understanding of the terms “Minor” and “Transitory”. WP 35 tabled at XXI Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. Christchurch, 19–30 May 1997.

  • New Zealand. (1997c). Understanding of EIA processes. WP 36 tabled at XXI Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. Christchurch, 19–30 May 1997.

  • New Zealand. (1997d). Final Report of the Twenty-first Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. Christchurch, 19–30 May 1997.

  • New Zealand. (2008). The ANDRILL independent environmental audit. IP 101 Paper tabled at XXXI Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting, Kyiv, 2–11 June 2008.

  • Norway. (1998). Final Report of the Twenty-second Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. Tromsø, 25 May–5 June 1998.

  • Office of Polar Programs, National Science Foundation (OPP-NSF). (1998a). Draft environmental impact statement: Modernization of the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station Antarctica. Arlington: National Science Foundation.

    Google Scholar 

  • Office of Polar Programs, National Science Foundation (OPP-NSF). (1998b). Final environmental impact statement: Modernization of the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station Antarctica. Arlington: National Science Foundation.

    Google Scholar 

  • Peru. (1999). Final Report of the Twenty-third Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. Lima, 24 May–4 June 1999.

  • Russia. (1996). Further investigations of the subglacial Lake Vostok. IP 83 tabled at XX Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. Utrecht, 29 April–10 May 1996.

  • Russia. (1998). Project of deep drilling at Vostok Station and its environmental impact. IP 66 tabled at XXII Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. Tromsø, 25 May–5 June 1998.

  • Russia. (1999). Deep Borehole 5G1 current environmental state and perspectives (Vostok Station, East Antarctica). IP 73 tabled at XXIII Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. Lima, 24 May–4 June 1999.

  • Russia. (2001). Expert conclusion for the Project “Justification and development of the ecologically clean technology for penetrating the subglacial Lake Vostok (Antarctica)”. WP 29 tabled at XXIV Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. St Petersburg, 9–20 July 2001.

  • Russia. (2002). Water sampling of the subglacial Lake Vostok—draft Comprehensive Environmental Evaluation. WP 19 tabled at XXV Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. Warsaw, 10–20 September 2002.

  • Russia. (2003). Water sampling of the subglacial Lake Vostok—Draft revised Comprehensive Environmental Evaluation WP 1 tabled at XXVI. Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. Madrid, 9–20 June 2003.

  • Russia. (2006a). Russian studies of the subglacial Lake Vostok in the season of 2005–2006 and work plans for the season of 2006–2007. IP 68 tabled at XXIX Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. Edinburgh, 12–23 June 2006.

  • Russia. (2006b). Drilling of additional 75 m in deep Borehole 5G-1 at Vostok Station: Initial Environmental Evaluation IP 69 tabled at XXIX. Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. Edinburgh, 12–23 June 2006.

  • Russia. (2007). Preliminary results of Russian expedition studies of the subglacial Lake Vostok in 2006–2007. IP 63 tabled at XXX Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. New Delhi, 30 April–11 May 2007.

  • Scott, K. N. (2008). Regulating subglacial aquatic research under the Antarctic Treaty system. New Zealand Universities Law Review, 23, 135–154.

    Google Scholar 

  • Spain. (2003). Final report of the XXVI Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. Madrid, 9–20 June 2003.

  • Triggs, G. D. (2006). International law: Contemporary principles and practices. Chatswood: LexisNexis Butterworths.

    Google Scholar 

  • United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). (1992). Report of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development Annex I: Rio Declaration on Environment and Development General Assembly Document A/CONF.151/26 (Vol. I), 12 August 1992.

  • United States. (1998). Report of the depository government of the Antarctic Treaty and its Protocol (USA) in accordance with Recommendation XIII-2. Annex F: 223–237. Final Report of the Twenty-second Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. Tromsø, 25 May–5 June 1998.

  • Zotikov, I. A. (2006). The Antarctic subglacial Lake Vostok: Glaciology, biology and planetology. Heidelberg: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

This article substantially expands and develops a short paper written by ADH for a diplomatic meeting, the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting in New Delhi in 2007 (ASOC 2007). ADH acknowledges helpful comments on that paper by Ricardo Roura, and discussions with him, Kees Bastmeijer, Neil Gilbert, Lyn Goldsworthy, Harry Keys, the late Mike Prebble and Stuart Prior about Antarctic EIA in many contexts and in many places over many years; and thanks colleagues on New Zealand’s Antarctic Environmental Assessment and Review Panel with whom the practicalities and complexities of considering actual Antarctic EIAs were learnt. LKK acknowledges The Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre and the School of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Tasmania and an Erskine Fellowship from the University of Canterbury, which enabled him to work at Gateway Antarctica Centre for Antarctic Studies and Research in 2008. We thank two anonymous reviewers of the submitted manuscript for perceptive and helpful comments. Of course, none of these people or organisations should be implicated in the particular interpretations taken by the authors here.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Lorne K. Kriwoken.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Hemmings, A.D., Kriwoken, L.K. High level Antarctic EIA under the Madrid Protocol: state practice and the effectiveness of the Comprehensive Environmental Evaluation process. Int Environ Agreements 10, 187–208 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10784-010-9119-5

Download citation

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10784-010-9119-5

Keywords

  • Antarctica
  • Antarctic Treaty system
  • International environmental management
  • Environmental impact assessment
  • Effectiveness of multilateral environmental agreements