Worldwide | Department of Global Communications (DGC) | Simonetta Di Pippo for 'UN Chronicle'
Last year, which marked the sixtieth anniversary of the first artificial satellite in orbit, a record number of orbiting objects were registered with the United Nations, reflecting the growing interest of all types of actors in participating in the frontier field of space exploration and innovation.
The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), established in 1958, works with Governments and the wider space community across policy, legal and technical capacity-building aspects of supporting global activities in the space environment.
It also engages actors in discussions on how to best address the fact that space is becoming more congested and contested while offering a growing pool of benefits to humanity.
Space for Sustainable Development
Utilizing space contributes positively to a range of policy areas, including climate and weather monitoring, access to health care and education, water management, efficiency in transportation and agriculture, peacekeeping, security and humanitarian assistance. The list of earth-impacting space applications is nearly endless, and many other valuable contributions are currently in development or being researched.
With the adoption of the three major international frameworks in 2015 - the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030 and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change - the international community has pledged to address the biggest challenges defining our era. Space-based technologies play an ever-increasing role in accelerating the achievement of those pledges.
To assess the impact of space technologies on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), UNOOSA joined the European Global Navigation Satellite System Agency in an early 2018 study demonstrating that 65 out of 169 targets underpinning the SDGs directly benefit from the use of Earth observation and navigation satellite systems.1 Incorporating telecommunication satellites, which were not covered in the study, significantly increases the number of targets affected directly.
With the adoption of the SDGs, UNOOSA was provided with an additional framework, and we strive throughout our activities and initiatives to promote and facilitate the use of space to help achieve the 17 Goals. We employ a cross-cutting approach aimed at contributing to the use of space science and technology as invaluable tools to help implement the SDGs.
One of the most important issues we are tackling in this regard is addressing the significant gender gap through the “Space for Women” Project to promote and enable more women and girls to play an active and equal role in space science, technology, innovation and exploration.
About the author:
Simonetta Di Pippo, Director of the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs, wrote this article for an issue of ‘UN Chronicle’ that focuses on new technologies and their potential benefits for humanity as well as their expanding use in advancing the 2030 Agenda.