A21 History: The Antarctica21 Foundation, A Vision Realized
Edgardo Vega, Executive Director at the Antarctica21 Foundation, recounts the beginnings of the Foundation and its progress during the last two years.
In 2023 Antarctica21 celebrates its 20th Anniversary. During our company’s 20th anniversary year, we want to celebrate our history with a review of the important milestones that have defined our journey. This is one of the notable moments in the company’s history. You can read more stories here.
Written by Edgardo Vega, Executive Director at the Antarctica21 Foundation
As I sit here reflecting on the journey of the Antarctica21 Foundation thus far, I am reminded of the incredible passion, dedication, and teamwork that brought this organization to life. It all began in 2021 when a group of twenty-one people from the company and its associates came together to establish the Antarctica21 Foundation. Alongside the life-changing expeditions that Antarctica21 provides, the Foundation was conceived as a sister organization to continue the company’s support of important Antarctic projects focused on science, education, culture, conservation, and cooperation.
It was a chilly winter evening here in Punta Arenas when, gathering with a few close friends who shared my fascination with the frozen continent, they asked me to lead the Foundation. Previously, I had played a role in coordinating Chile’s scientific activities in Antarctica as Deputy Director of the Chilean Antarctic Institute, I was also involved in the early stages of the International Antarctic Center that will be built in Punta Arenas. Those experiences allowed me to travel to Antarctica on multiple occasions, igniting my passion for that magical continent. In hindsight, it was an ideal preparation for everything to come.
To bring the Foundation to life, we began with four main projects. We supported science projects on board Antarctica21 ships, published an Antarctic photography book, and started a pilot project to identify how green hydrogen can be used as an energy source for Chile’s Antarctic bases.
The other significant accomplishment was the fourth project – ILAN, Exploring Antarctica – an educational card game for school children. Players join a scientific expedition to Antarctica whose mission is to study the different forms of life that inhabit the White Continent.
In 2022, the Foundation organized an ILAN tournament in Punta Arenas and Puerto Williams. Two middle school girls won and, thanks to the support of Antarctica21, traveled to Antarctica. For 2023, the second version of the tournament will be held with many new features to be announced soon.
The Foundation constantly seeks opportunities for collaboration with public and private organizations. For example, we have concluded agreements with three Chilean universities with which we hope to implement scientific data collection projects that use Antarctica21’s ships as platforms. In addition, around culture and heritage, we are collaborating with the Regional Directorate of Heritage and the Prisma Austral Foundation to develop a documentary about the explorations carried out by Phillip Parker King in southern Chile almost 200 years ago. Additional projects are in the works for 2024.
Looking back on these past 2+ years, I am filled with pride and gratitude for the dedicated individuals who shared this incredible journey with me. The Antarctica21 Foundation is an example of what can be achieved when a group of passionate individuals comes together to pursue a shared vision. Our organization works tirelessly to educate the community and preserve Antarctica, ensuring that pristine wilderness remains a source of inspiration and wonder for future generations.