UKPN celebrates Polar Pride at the Palace of Westminster

Polar Pride celebrate at Westminster, November 2023

On the 20th November 2023 the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Polar Regions (APPG) and the Government of the British Antarctic Territory held a Polar Pride celebration at the Palace of Westminster, London for the first time. The event brought together individuals from the Polar science community who are actively involved in Polar Pride, Polar science, and those from Parliament who were interested in Polar affairs. Millie (EDI Officer), Louise (EDI Officer), Chloe (VP), and Dylan (Member at large) were kindly invited to travel down to London to take part in the event.

Polar Pride is celebrated every year on November 18th as part of an ongoing effort to celebrate those who are LGBTQ+ in Polar Science. This was started by the British Antarctic Territory and South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands governments with the Diversity in Polar Science Initiative (DiPSI) in 2020, with responsibility for promoting and organising the day later taken on by the UK Polar Network. A recent blog post by Dr James Lea highlighted why Pride is still important for LGBTQ+ Polar scientists and allies. Each year the EDI Officers at UKPN work hard to raise awareness of Polar Pride around the world and encourage organisations/individuals to join the UKPN celebrating on November 18th. 

It was fantastic to see the work of UKPN and Early Career Researchers being recognised at this prestigious event. The day provided a welcome opportunity to catch up with those the UKPN continues to work closely with including DiPSI, the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust, and the British Antarctic Survey (BAS). The event enabled us to make new connections with a wide variety of people and policy makers involved in environmental and polar policy at Westminster. The honourable James Gray, MP, led the proceedings and Jane Rumble (FCDO), Camilla Nichol (UKAHT), James Lea (University of Liverpool) and Pilvi Saarikoksi and Huw Griffiths (BAS) gave very poignant speeches about why Polar Pride is so important to the Polar community and how we can all work together to provide a more welcoming and inclusive environment.

There were a range of important takeaway messages from this event for individuals and at the organisational level. Moving forward, the UKPN will continue to work on making Polar Science more inclusive through a variety of means. We will be hosting a town hall event and participating in the EDI session at the 2024 Arctic Science Summit Week (Edinburgh, Scotland). The EDI and Training teams within UKPN are continuing to actively work towards better understanding how we can continue to make our training activities (e.g. field courses and international travel) more inclusive. Finally, we will continue to work closely with DiPSI to continue to build these strong partnerships. 

We would like to thank the APPG for Polar Regions for putting on the event that brought together the Polar community and Parliamentarians to celebrate Polar Pride 2023.