Champion of Antarctic research awarded medal from French Foreign Ministry

Monash University

Internationally-renowned ecologist and biologist from Monash University, Professor Steven Chown, has been awarded a unique medal from the Ambassador of France to Australia, Jean-Pierre Thebault, in recognition of his extensive contributions to the protection of the Antarctic environment. The medal commemorates the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty and was presented in Hobart overnight. The Madrid Protocol is a significant international agreement which designates the entire continent as ‘a natural reserve, devoted to peace and science’. It was established through collaborative leadership between France and Australia in 1989, in response to attempts to open the continent to mining and oil drilling. Australia worked alongside France to drive international negotiations that led to the signing of the protocol in 1991. In commemoration of this landmark agreement, the award recognises a scientist whose research has made an outstanding contribution to reinforce the spirit of the Madrid Protocol. Professor Chown has long been active at the meetings of the Antarctic Treaty System to ensure that scientific evidence finds its way into policy and practice through clear, timely and focused communication.

Steven’s entire career has been devoted to the protection of the Antarctic environment. He has spent over 30 years conducting research focused on environmental change and policy development for the protection of the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic regions. His research has delivered unique insights into the biodiversity and ecology of the region. One of his main research interests is in understanding the impacts of environmental change on Antarctic biodiversity. He is also known for his studies on invasive species and their impacts on the Antarctic environment. Throughout his career he has also led and supervised many works on Antarctic conservation, including assessments of the network of specially protected areas and works to identify conservation challenges and a means to mitigate them. In addition to his scientific pursuits, Steven has long been active in supporting the objective of the Madrid Protocol through his involvement in organisations dedicated to the protection of Antarctica, especially through the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR). He has spent many years ensuring that scientific evidence makes its way into policy and practice and served as President of SCAR from 2016 to 2021. He has been an advocate for developing the next generation of Antarctic scientists and this work will continue as director of Securing Antarctica’s Environmental Future. While in Hobart, Steven will present a public lecture “Biodiversity of the Antarctic” on Thursday 17 February at 5:30pm. For more details visit Professor Chown is Director of Securing Antarctica’s Environmental Future, a Special Research Initiative of the Australian Research Council, hosted by Monash University. He is also an Theme leader of Revitalising Informal Settlements and their Environments, a Wellcome Trust-funded program to improve the livelihoods of at-risk people in the Asia-Pacific. | MEDIA

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