Agreement reached on Princess Elisabeth polar base


Ending a two-year conflict, the federal government has reached an agreement with Belgium’s International Polar Foundation on the management of the research based in Antarctica

Research team to arrive in autumn

After three months of negotiations, state secretary for science policy Zuhal Demir and Alain Hubert of the International Polar Foundation (IPF) of have come to an agreement on the management of Belgium’s Princess Elisabeth polar research base in Antarctica. The Pax Antarctica deal ends a two-year conflict on the management of the base.

In 2015, then science policy secretary Elke Sleurs removed IPF from the policy council that manages the base, because of what she saw as a conflict of interest. The situation escalated, with Hubert – a polar explorer and IPF founder – accused of removing equipment from the base and a legal battle that made management of the site impossible.

According to the new agreement, IPF will manage the base for six years, which could then be extended for an additional three years. Following the six – or possibly nine – year period, the management of the base will be bid by public tender, always for a period of three years.

The federal government will become the full owner of the base. Until now, IPF possessed 1/1000th of the shares on the base, which it will now hand over to the government.

IPF will receive a settlement of €4.5 million, which also covers unpaid invoices and the ownership of some portable equipment. Previously, all the equipment at the base was owned by Hubert.

Because of the ongoing conflict, there was no research mission to the base last year. A team of researchers will now, however, head to the base in November.

Photo: René Robert/IPF

Princess Elisabeth station in Antarctica

The Princess Elisabeth Polar Science Station at the South Pole is the only station at altitude in Antarctica. It was developed and built by the Brussels-based International Polar Foundation with the aim of supporting research in East Antarctica.
Launch - Commissioned by the Belgian government, the station was founded as a legacy project of the 2007-2008 International Polar Year.
Renewable - The station is the world’s first polar research facility to be designed and built to operate entirely on renewable energies.
Gateway - The station offers a research gateway to the Sør Rondane Mountains, glaciers and the Antarctic Plateau so that scientists don’t need to travel far into the Antarctic wilderness to conduct their research.

station wind turbines

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station altitude in meters


location from the coast in kilometres