McGee, The Future of Antarctica: Scenarios from Classical Geopolitics, 2022

As global great power competition intensifies, there is growing concern about the geopolitical future of Antarctica. This book delves into the question of how can we anticipate, prepare for, and potentially even shape that future? Now in its 60th year, the Antarctic Treaty System has been comparatively resilient and successful in governing the Antarctic region. This book assesses how our ability to make accurate predictions about the future of the Antarctic Treaty System reduces rapidly in the face of political and biophysical complexity, uncertainty, and the passage of time. This poses a critical risk for organisations making long-range decisions about their policy, strategy, and investments in the frozen south.

Scenarios are useful planning tools for considering futures beyond the limits of standard prediction. This book explores how a multi-disciplinary focus of classical geopolitics might be applied systematically to create scenarios on Antarctic futures that are plausible, rigorous, and robust. This book illustrates a pragmatic, nine-step scenario development process, using the topical issue of military activities in Antarctica. Along the way, the authors make suggestions to augment current theory and practice of geopolitical scenario planning. In doing so, this book seeks to rediscover the importance of a classical (primarily state-centric) lens on Antarctic geopolitics, which in recent decades has been overshadowed by more critical perspectives.

This book is written for anyone with an interest in the rigorous assessment of geopolitical futures - in Antarctica and beyond.


About the authors

Jeffrey McGee is Associate Professor at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) and Faculty of Law at the University of Tasmania. His work is published in leading international journals in the fields of Antarctic policy, international environmental law, and climate change policy. He co-edited the book Anthropocene Antarctica, a special issue of the Australian Journal of Maritime and Ocean Affairs on 21st Century Challenges to the Antarctic Treaty System, and the Edward Elgar Research Handbook on Climate Change, Oceans and Coasts. He is an affiliated researcher with Humanities and Social Science expert group of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research. He is also a member of the Australian Government’s consultative forum for the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources and the Tasmanian Polar Network. In 2021, Jeff was a member of the Australian delegation to the 43rd Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. He also has experience as a lecturer on tourist flights to the Ross Sea area and East Antarctica.

David Edmiston is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Law at the University of Tasmania. A career public servant, David holds Masters degrees in public administration and environmental governance, with a focus on Antarctica. In 2019, David undertook an intensive course in geopolitical scenario planning at the Maastricht University Summer School, under the guidance of Dr Leonhardt van Efferink. David’s doctoral project is titled: Portents from the North: Is the Arctic an indicator of future challenges for Antarctic geopolitics, law and governance?

Marcus Haward is Professor of Antarctic and Ocean Governance at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania.  He has been a member of Australian delegations to the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting, and to the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. Marcus has published extensively on Antarctic and ocean governance. He is currently co-leading (with Jeffrey McGee) a multi-year project on Antarctic Geopolitics funded by the Australian Research Council. Marcus co-edited Australia and the Antarctic Treaty System: Fifty Years of Influence UNSW Press, 2011 and most recently authored Governing Oceans in a Time of Change: Fishing for a Future, Edward Elgar, 2020.