Antarctica – a Bridge for Peace was today’s address by Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa to an international audience in Moscow, Russia.
I am honoured that you have given me the opportunity to address you on the subject of Antarctica.
Let me start off by confessing that I have never been to the great continent.
I am 84 years old, and a little frail, and so unfortunately, I doubt I will ever visit Antarctica. But I care deeply about the continent.
I care about Antarctica because I am South African. 4,000 km south of us is Antarctica. That might seem far away, but it’s our neighbour. And what happens down there, will impact all of us.
I care about Antarctica because of all the wonderful animals that live there. We must never forget that we are stewards of this beautiful Earth. Not masters of it.
Antarctica is home to whales, seals, albatrosses, toothfish … and to my favourite – the penguins. I mean – what astonishing animals penguins are. They were born dressed beautifully for dinner – just like you are tonight.
I also care about Antarctica because I love science. Antarctica is the most
untouched continent on Earth – and so it gives our scientists insights that
they can find nowhere else on our planet.
And I care about Antarctica because I love my children. Like you love your children. And when we overfish the waters off Antarctica, and destroy one of the last wilderness areas on Earth, we leave them very poor. We leave them poor in resources. And we leave them poor in spirit.
Ladies and gentlemen, there is a further truth that is rarely spoken of – and that is this: When we damage our environment we create conditions ripe for conflict. But when we protect our environment we foster peace.
For me, Antarctica is a symbol of peace. At the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union, the USA, and 10 other nations that governed the continent, including my own, put aside their differences. And they had the foresight to set aside the continent as a place dedicated to peace and science. That was a great moment.
We stand on the brink of another great moment.
We now have the opportunity to properly protect the waters around the great continent. In doing so, we will not only protect the LAST GREAT wilderness on Earth. We will not only build bridges. But we will also crucially foster peace.
I beg of you, do something great. Do something meaningful. Do something that will make a difference to our world, to our planet, and to our children’s future. Let us start tonight by committing to protecting the magical Ross Sea off Antarctica.
God bless you all.
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