Daniela Liggett Lecture

11 June 2019


Image of Antarctica futures

Charting courses through the Ice – Envisioning Antarctic Futures

A public lecture by Dr Daniela Liggett, Centre for Antarctic Studies and Research (Gateway Antarctica), University of Canterbury and 2019 UWA Institute of Advanced Studies Visiting Fellow.

A mere few centuries ago, the icy continent to our South was the subject of speculation and imagination. In many ways, Antarctica was beyond the grasp of human understanding – it was an unexplored, unknown land, a terra incognita. In the span of a few hundred years, the Antarctic was discovered, mapped and the surrounding ocean’s resources were exploited – what was terra incognita became terra nullius and later, in anthropologist Jessica O’Reilly’s words a terra clima, with Antarctica not only representing a bellwether for global environmental change but also a hotspot for climate science. The continent’s future is uncertain and once again subject to much speculation.

This presentation, which discusses the results of a collaborative research project, explores four “possibility spaces” within which Antarctic futures might unfold. These are defined by differing interactions between two interdependent variables: the level of human engagement with Antarctica, and the strength of Antarctic governance through the Antarctic Treaty System. Dr Liggett will discuss the many dimensions of anticipated developments in Antarctic governance, tourism and research and identify key drivers behind them and explore four alternate scenarios for Antarctic futures: a collaborative-conservationist, a collaborative-exploitative, an individualistic-conservationist and an individualistic-exploitative scenario. She will argue that the first two require determined efforts to reach, ie a “push”. The other two seem inevitable if lethargy among Antarctic Treaty Parties prevails. Consequently, the Parties will need to ask themselves how they might ‘shape’ the Antarctic future. The answers are likely to affect the rest of the world.

Dr Daniela Liggett is a social scientist with a background in environmental management, Antarctic politics and tourism. Having conducted her doctoral research in the field of Antarctic tourism regulation, her research interests include the wider aspects of managing human activity in polar environments and the complexities of Antarctic values. She is currently involved in collaborative research on the topics of Antarctic futures, Antarctic gateway cities, the production of scientific knowledge in Antarctic, the use and provision of polar environmental forecasts, and Antarctic science-policy interactions. Daniela has been actively involved in the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS) – as a President for one term, as a member of the Executive Committee for two terms, and as a member of the Advisory Committee since 2012.  She has also contributed to the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research’s First Antarctic and Southern Ocean Horizon Scan, is a Chief Officer of the Scientific Committee of Antarctic Research’s (SCAR) Standing Committee on the Humanities and Social Sciences and a member of both SCAR’s Standing Committee on the Antarctic Treaty System and its Capacity Building, Education and Training Committee. Daniela is one of the co-chairs of the Societal and Economic Research and Applications (SERA) subcommittee of the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) Polar Prediction Project (PPP) and also serves on the PPP Steering Group. She is on the editorial boards of Polar Geography, The Polar Journal and Advances in Polar Science.

Daniela is a co-investigator on the ARC Discovery Project 'The Social Production of Science in Antarctica' (DP150103851), which is led by UWA anthropologist A/Professor Richard Vokes.