United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA)
1. What decisions or new strategies has the governing body of your organization taken to guide the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs? Please provide a brief summary below, including the overarching vision of your governing body for the Decade of Action on the SDGs.
The resolution of UNISPACE+50, endorsed by the High-level Segment of UNISPACE+50 in June 2018 and adopted by the General Assembly on 26 October 2018 (A/RES/73/6), emphasized the need to build stronger partnerships at all levels in order to enhance the contribution of space activities for the realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, invited COPUOS to develop a “Space2030” agenda and implementation plan, and acknowledged the importance of global partnership and strengthened cooperation among Member States, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, industry and private sector entities in fulfilling the “Space2030” agenda and its implementation plan.
A dedicated working group on “Space2030” agenda of COPUOS has been established to work on the agenda. The agenda will be a high-level, forward-looking document and is envisioned as a comprehensive strategy for reaffirming and strengthening the contribution of space activities and space tools to the achievement of global agendas and addressing long-term sustainable development concerns of humankind.
The “Space2030” agenda is planned to be adopted by COPUOS in June 2020 and then sent for consideration by the General Assembly at its 75th session.
2. At the secretariat level, what steps has your organization taken (or will it take) in the follow-up to the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs? Please specify actions, including but not limited to the following areas:
2.1 SDG-specific strategies, plans or work programmes;
To support countries in attaining the Sustainable Development Goals broadly, UNOOSA and ESA signed a MoU in 2019 to develop a UN Space Solutions Compendium focused on using space assets to further the SDGs. The objective of the partnership is to establish a direct link between space technologies and the SDGs and to foster partnerships for developing innovative systems and space solutions that will assist countries – in particular developing countries – in monitoring and achieving the Goals. This project, as well as Space Solutions for the Pacific, are examples of ongoing initiatives established in the last few years to support realization of the SDGs on a comprehensive level.
As the core business of UNOOSA is to promote international cooperation in the use of outer space for sustainable development, the office has also launched a number of SDG-specific initiatives and reshaped many of its projects to be more in-line with the SDGs. In February 2020, UNOOSA launched the Space4Women web portal and mentor network in support of SDG 5 – Empowerment of Women and Gender Equality, and SDG 4 – Quality Education. The objective of the program is to facilitate capacity building for women and girls in STEM education and empower young women and girls to be both the beneficiary of, and an active and integral contributor to space solutions.
Similarly, a Space for Youth initiative was launched to support the UN-wide “Youth 2030” strategy and to contribute to SDG 4. Other SDG-specific initiatives include Space4Water, and ongoing discussions to establish Space for Climate Action and Space for Health initiatives to support Goal 13 and Goal 3, respectively.
2.2 Aligning the structure of the organization with the SDGs and the transformative features of the 2030 Agenda, including any challenges and lessons learned in doing so;
The Secretary-General's bulletin SGB/2020/1 provides for a new structure of UNOOSA into five sections to reflect the division of workstreams within the Office and to improve efficiency in delivering the mandate to strengthen international cooperation in the conduct of space activities for peaceful purposes and the use of space science and technology and their applications towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
2.3 Readjusting or updating results-based budgeting and management, including performance indicators;
UNOOSA is currently developing a results-based management approach to capacity-building, based on country-specific needs, assessed through two key instruments that have been developed by the Office for Outer Space Affairs: the space for development profile and the space solutions compendium, which will enable the provision of capacity-building strategies for Member States on a long-term basis.
As a stand-alone agency in the secretariat whose mandate is to promote international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, UNOOSA has amended the programme budget 2020 and 2021 to align to the SDG driven requirements in the programme plan and included SDG related performance indicators.
2.4 Action to enhance support to the principle of "leaving no one behind" and to integrated policy approaches;
The benefits of space technology are wide-reaching and have the potential to support all of the SDGs; it is part of UNOOSA’s mission to ensure that everyone has equal opportunities to contribute to and access these benefits. Through the Access to Space for All initiative, UNOOSA works to bridge the gap in capabilities between space-faring and emerging or non-space-faring nations. With a particular focus on emerging and non-space-faring countries, the aims of this initiative are to connect established and emerging space actors and to support capacity building and technological development.
UNOOSA currently has partnerships with organizations including the Sierra Nevada Corporation, MAXAR, JAXA, and the China Manned Space Agency to deliver technical support to space projects initiated by developing countries. The technical support includes payload delivery, geospatial analytics, and cube satellite deployment, all of which contribute extensively to capacity building and the aim of reducing the gap in capabilities between space-faring countries and those with emerging programs. In April 2020, Guatemala successfully launched its first satellite in partnership with the JAXA/ UNOOSA KiboCUBE program, which collaborates with teams from developing countries to deploy cube satellites from the International Space Station. With this launch, Guatemala became the second country after Kenya to successfully take part in the KiboCube program.
In addition to Access to Space for All, UNOOSA’s Space4Women and Space for Youth initiatives are specifically focused on facilitating access to STEM education and space technologies for women and youth, two populations who have historically not had equal participation opportunities in space science and technology fields.
2.5 Action to address the interlinkages across SDG goals and targets;
The importance of the role of Earth Observation (EO) and geolocation (provided by GNSS) in supporting the achievement of the development goals is recognized in General Assembly resolution A/RES/70/1: Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, however, the potential of space in supporting the SDGs is much wider.
A 2018 study conducted by UNOOSA, in cooperation with the European GNSS Agency (GSA), indicates that almost 40 percent (%), or 65 out of 169 targets, that are underpinning the 17 SDGs are directly taking advantage from the use of geo-location and earth observation satellites. With the inclusion of telecommunication satellites, this statistic rises considerably.
Recognizing that space technology can support all 17 Sustainable Development Goals, UNOOSA’s Space4SDGs initiative highlights the capabilities of Earth Observation and geolocation in addressing the SDGs and provides information about projects undertaken by the Office in support of each Goal.
A cross-sectional project team on the SDGs (PT-SDGs) was created to provide a platform for UNOOSA to discuss strategic issues related to the SDGs, to propose, create and coordinate new activities and collect ideas related to the SDGS, and to disseminate information internally and propose outreach and communication activities about the SDGs.
Additionally, UNOOSA and the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency completed a study and report on the role of global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) and Earth observation (EO), with special focus on European GNSS and Copernicus, in supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The report assessed how the expanded use of existing and potential space applications can directly benefit their users, and indirectly benefit societies, and citizens around the world. As part of the wider Space4SDGs initiative, this report informs how states and regions may adopt more targeted use of space technologies, and how these technologies have the opportunity to enable, monitor, and assess multiple overlapping SDGs.
3. What normative, analytical, technical assistance or capacity building activities is your organization providing to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs? Please provide a brief account of the activities you have organized or intend to undertake, including but not limited to the following areas:
3.1 Enhancing national implementation including by supporting the mainstreaming of the SDGs in development plans and policies or through national sustainable development plans/strategies;
3.2 Mainstreaming the SDGs in sectoral strategies, including specific SDG/target strategies;
3.3 Supporting the strengthening of national institutions for more integrated solutions;
As part of its mission to ensure that all countries and international and regional organizations have access to space-based information to support disaster and risk management, UNOOSA’s UN-SPIDER program is engaged in a number of advisory support initiatives to support Member States. These initiatives include:
- Technical Advisory Missions. A Technical Advisory Mission (TAM) is conducted to identify the needs of a Member State regarding its capacity to fully take advantage of space-based information. As an inter-institutional fact-finding mission, it is officially requested by the respective national government and is carried out by a team of experts that UN-SPIDER gathers. In order to discuss the use of space-based information for risk and disaster management in depth and to subsequently make recommendations on improvements, the expert team meets with key disaster management and development authorities in the Government, United Nations organizations, regional and international organizations/initiatives, and private entrepreneurs. In 2019 and 2020, UN-SPIDER engaged in TAMs with partners in Peru and Tunisia.
- Institutional Strengthening Missions. With an Institutional Strengthening Mission (ISM), UN-SPIDER assists a Member State in increasing its capacity to benefit from space-based information for risk and disaster management. Mission activities can include training personnel or facilitating access to space-derived data. UN-SPIDER also facilitates inter-institutional workshops for policy and strategy design leading to the more effective use of geospatial data. Recent ISMs include:
- In 2019 UN-SPIDER worked with the Ministry of Territorial Administration of Cameroon. The discussions addressed ways to institutionalize the use of space datain disaster risk reduction, preparedness, response and recovery efforts, and to ensure data sharing and coordination among relevant stakeholders in the country, especially in emergency response efforts. The mission included introductions on the use of remotely-sensed data in disaster management, which included an overview of data management practices, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and their use for mapping disaster-relevant information, and the use of such maps in disaster response. Participants were also introduced to the International Charter “Space and Major Disasters” and presented examples of maps created for addressing floods.
- In 2019, UN-SPIDER carried out an Institutional Strengthening Mission to Republic of Ecuador upon the request of the government. During the five-day mission, UN-SPIDER carried out a training programme on "Analysis of satelliteimages to monitor floods, droughts and forest fires". The programme brought together various institutions that were convened by the National Risk and Emergency Management Service. Participants were trained in the fundamentals, methods of remote sensing and digital processing of satellite images to obtain useful information for monitoring floods, droughts and forest fires.
- From 2010 to 2018, the Office worked with the Government of the Dominican Republic on the use of space-based solutions for disaster risk reduction, strengthening its institutions and providing technical advice on incorporating the use of space-based information into its activities. As a result, the country has had increased integration of space science and technology and its applications into decision-making by planning authorities and improved access to reliable, accurate and timely information by emergency, rescue and relief organizations. For example, the Dominican Republic now has the ability to obtain up-to-date satellite imagery for the elaboration of maps to be used by responders and has launched a national integrated information system for emergency response.
Additionally, UNOOSA has established a legal advisory project called Space Law for New Space Actors to support emerging space actors in developing an enhanced understanding of the fundamentals of international space law and to implement existing international agreements such as the Outer Space Treaty. In addition to strengthening the capacity of national institutions within normative frameworks, this initiative is tied to supporting SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions.
3.4 Data and statistical capacity building;
3.5 Harnessing science, technology and innovation for the SDGs;
Science, technology, and innovation are essential drivers of space exploration, and are at the heart of nearly every project undertaken by UNOOSA. Initiatives that directly involve the use of space science and technology include UN-SPIDER, Space4Water, and Space4SDGs. Current UN-SPIDER projects include: Earth Observation Based Information Products for Drought Risk Reduction at the National Level (EvIDENz) and Strengthening Early Warning Systems for Drought (SEWS-D) in Central America and the Caribbean. Both projects use space-based information to support disaster risk management and emergency response for drought, supporting SDG 15 which aims to "combat desertification, drought, and floods, and strive to achieve a land degradation neutral world”. EvIDENz uses sensor data and monitoring to reduce drought risk at the national level and SEWS-D aims to enhance the capabilities of ministries in agriculture and environment to strengthen national drought policies using space-based information.
Space4Water is an initiative specifically addressing Goal 6: “Goal 6 “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all” and Goal 17: “Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development”. The initiative is a collaborative effort with the Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water (PSIPW) to promote the use of space-based technology for increased access to water. As part of this collaboration, UNOOSA has developed the Space4Water Portal, a platform for organizations to exchange knowledge on projects, data, and capacity building material on using space technologies for water-related topics.
Space4Women is a UNOOSA initiative in support of SDG 5 – Empowerment of Women and Gender Equality, and SDG 4 – Quality Education. The program facilitates capacity building for women and girls in STEM education and aims to empower young women and girls to be both the beneficiary of, and an active and integral contributor to space solutions. Additionally, the Office is currently working to establish two new initiatives: Space4Health, supporting Goal 3 – Good Health and Well-Being, and Space4Climate, supporting Goal 13 – Climate Action.
3.6 Multi-stakeholder partnerships;
Through the Access to Space for All initiative, UNOOSA works to connect established and emerging space actors and to provide countries with the instruments to achieve the SDGs. With partners in national governments and space agencies, industry, and academia, many of the capacity-building projects enacted through this initiative involve multi-stakeholder collaboration. The initiative is also an example of triangular cooperation among established space actors, the UN and non- or emerging space entities, working together in support of the SDGs and global UN frameworks.
3.7 Bolstering local action and supporting sub-national plans/strategies and implementation for the SDGs;
In partnership with the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, UNOOSA is providing capacity building support to the Pacific countries. The project was launched in 2018 to map recent and ongoing space solution programmatic activity in Pacific Island States, evaluate current capacities of Pacific Island States to analyze, interpret, and use space-based solutions and applications, identify priority Pacific Island States user needs and match user needs with proposed UNOOSA programmatic activities and other relevant third-parties to provide sustainable space solutions in the Pacific.
Additionally, UN-SPIDER is carrying out two projects aimed at supporting SDG 15 at the national and local levels:
- Earth Observation-based Information Products for Drought Risk Reduction at the National Level (EvIDENz) develops and tests new Earth Observation-Based methods to monitor the drought hazard characteristics in the Eastern Cape Province of the Republic of South Africa and in Kyiv region (oblast) in Ukraine.
- Strengthening Early Warning Systems for Drought (SEWS-D) in Central America and the Caribbean works to strengthen drought policies using space-based information. In view of the fact that field data on rainfall is used in many areas to track the development of droughts, UN-SPIDER brings together international, regional, and national partners in areas throughout Central America and the Caribbean to promote the use of space-based information to strengthen drought early warning systems.
3.8 Leveraging interlinkages across SDG goals and targets;
Recognizing the interconnected nature of the SDGs, UNOOSA’s Access to Space for All initiative and the Space4SDGs initiative aim to address the capabilities of space technologies to advance sustainable development in an integrated way. Remote sensing using Earth Observation is capable of gathering data about water, agriculture, and land use at regional and national levels, contributing to an improved understanding of interactions at the food-water-energy nexus.
In addition to the direct benefits in one SDG – for example, drought assessment and risk reduction enabled by Earth Observation - achieved through implementing a specific space technology, building capacity and investing in innovation in space technologies can also contribute to Goal 4: Quality Education, Goal 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure, and Goal 17: Partnership for the Goals. Recent projects that have addressed multiple SDGs and the interlinkages among them include:
- The recent launch of Guatemala’s first satellite, Quetzal-1, as part of the KiboCube program. In addition to fostering industry, governmental, and academic partnership as part of Goal 17, the KiboCube program contributes to Goal 4 "Quality Education" and Goal 9 "Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure."
- The Space Law for New Space Actors initiativ As part of the program, UNOOSA offers space law capacity-building and legal advisory services for regulatory authorities of new and emerging space-faring nations. In addition to Goal 17, this project supports Goal 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions.
3.9 Supporting policies and strategies to leave no one behind;
There is much work to do to provide access to benefits of space technologies to all. UNOOSA believes such efforts begin with supporting more countries in their efforts to reach the services and information that only space access can provide. This bridging function of UNOOSA has been a great success and offering access to space opportunities to countries and their citizens from all corners of the globe ultimately benefits the whole world.
Through the initiative Access to Space for All, UNOOSA enables communities from all over the world, with special focus on non-space faring and emerging space-faring nations to use and benefit from space technologies and applications, with the support of space-faring nations and different stakeholders.
UNOOSA's portfolio under the Access to Space for All initiative includes a range of activities from microgravity research, satellite development, in-orbit research, plus access to the International Space Station and the China Manned Space Station for educational and research purposes. This portfolio is in continuous expansion and UNOOSA is always looking for more partners.
The initiative is an example of triangular cooperation between established space actors, the UN and non or emerging space entities, working together to unlock access to space-based benefits in support of the achievement of the SDGs and the global UN frameworks.
3.10 Supporting the mobilization of adequate and well-directed financing;
3.11 Reducing disaster risk and building resilience;
UNOOSA’s UN-SPIDER program was established to ensure that all countries and international and regional organizations have access to space-based information to support disaster and risk management. In the case of emergencies and disasters, UN-SPIDER provides technical support by taking the role of a bridge linking the disaster management and disaster risk management agencies with providers of space-based information.
3.12 Supporting international cooperation and enhancing the global partnership;
Launched in November 2019, the WORLD SPACE FORUM is a new event series hosted by the United Nations that is built on the recommendations generated at three High-Level Fora held from 2016 to 2018.The sequence of Fora demonstrated the growing interest of an increasing number of actors in discussing the future of space and of international cooperation along the pillars of space economy, space society, space accessibility and space diplomacy.
UNOOSA and ESA sign MoU to help countries leverage space for the SDGs
Through the MoU, the two organisations will work together on developing a UN Space Solution Compendium ("SSC") containing an overview of how selected space projects, and space technology in general, can help all countries achieve the SDGs. The SSC will document and identify how space applications offered today or being developed by agencies, research institutions and companies are relevant for the SDGs. The SSC will be hosted by UNOOSA.
UNOOSA signs MoU with Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center
UNOOSA signed a MoU with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), a government organization working on the United Arab Emirates (UAE) space program, to deepen their collaboration on promoting the peaceful uses of outer space and the long-term sustainability of outer space activities. The MoU supports both organizations’ commitments to develop capacities and leverage space technologies in line with sustainable development.
UNOOSA signs MoU with Ministry of Digital Development, Defence and Aerospace Industry of Kazakhstan
The two organizations will cooperate in the use of space-based information, space science, technology and applications for advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In particular, the two parties will work together on the use of space-based information to support the full disaster management cycle. They will jointly facilitate innovation in the space sector and work together on capacity-building activities, including through enhancing the skills of scientists, students and other specialists in the space sector, as well as facilitating their participation in joint scientific research activities and projects.
UNOOSA signs MoU with Bocconi University to collaborate in research on the space economy
The signatories agree to support each other in areas of common interest, and express a commitment to working with developing countries interested in entering the space sector as well as with the scientific space community. The cooperation will give particular attention to integrating space technologies with emerging new technologies, in line with the UN Secretary-General's New Technologies Strategy. The accord is part of broader joint research activities on the theme of space economy, one of the four pillars of the Space2030 Agenda, which outlines the contribution of space to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
UNOOSA and Space Generation Advisory Council sign Memorandum of Understanding
Under the MoU, UNOOSA and SGAC have agreed to deliver a global 'Space for Youth' Competition aimed at engaging youth in the discussion of how space science and technology can be used to power the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The competition will invite participants to submit examples of space supporting SDGs in their communities and to amplify the voice of the youth in space policy-making by issuing the winning entries to the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS).
UNOOSA and Asteroid Foundation sign MoU
UNOOSA and the Asteroid Foundation will work together to enhance understanding and deliver educational activities on asteroids and raise awareness of International Asteroid Day, celebrated each year on June 30 in memory of the Tunguska event, the most harmful known asteroid-related event on Earth in recent history, which took place on June 30, 1908. In 2016, International Asteroid Day was recognized at the highest levels by the UN General Assembly through the adoption of resolution A/RES/71/90.
Joint Statement with Government of Japan on Space Debris
Building off the multi-lateral cooperation on the issues of space debris and space safety at the G20 Summit in Osaka, UNOOSA and the Government of Japan signed a joint statement to cooperate in addressing space debris. The two organizations agreed to work together to “increase global understanding and the consolidation of knowledge on space debris, to disseminate information on the latest research, to cooperate with space actors to support the implementation of existing mitigation guidelines, and to strengthen international cooperation and global awareness on space debris mitigation”.
4. The high-level political forum (HLPF) is the central platform for the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. Has your organization participated in or supported the work of the HLPF? If yes, please specify your involvement in the following areas:
4.1 Supporting the intergovernmental body of your organization in contributing to the thematic review of the HLPF;
4.2 Contributing to policy/background briefs for the HLPF;
4.3 Helping organize SDG-specific events in the preparatory process;
Preparatory Workshop on Science, Technology, and Innovation for the SDGs
The preparatory workshop for the 2020 Multi-Stakeholder Forum for Science, Technology, and Innovation for the SDGs (STI Forum) was co-organized by UNOOSA, DESA, UNCTAD, UNOSD, and UNIDO in Vienna from 3-5 February, 2020. The STI Forum provides inputs for the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. The meeting focused on how best to structure the 2020 STI Forum to make an effective contribution to the 2020 HLPF, and more broadly to accelerate progress towards the SDGs. The meeting was structured along the six “entry points” and four “levers” for action as proposed in the Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR) 2019, in line with current plans for the structure of the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) in 2020.
Group of Friends Event
In March 2018, a meeting of the UNOOSA Group of Friends was held in New York to provide Member States with updates on the activities of UNOOSA. The meeting discussed the use of space for socioeconomic development and increased awareness on the use of “space solutions” for the benefit of Member States.
4.4 Organizing side events or speaking at the HLPF;
On 16 July 2019, under the General Debate of ECOSOC and HLPF, Austria delivered a statement on behalf of UNOOSA’s Group of Friends (GoF), underlining the important role of space and of science, technology and innovation for the achievement of the SDGs and the commitment of the GoF to support the work of the Office.
At the margins of the 2018 HLPF, UNOOSA, supported by the UNOOSA Group of Friends, organized the #space4SDGs side event, to debrief on UNISPACE+50 and the next steps towards establishing a coherent Space2030 agenda and its implementation plan. The results of the UNOOSA/ European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency (GSA) joint study on “Supporting the Sustainable Development Goals: Building Blocks Towards the 2030 Agenda” was also presented.
The exhibition “My Plant, My Future: Space for the Sustainable Development Goals” in the Visitors’ Lobby of UNHQ was also co-organized during the 2018 HLPF by UNOOSA and CANEUS, with sponsorship from GSA and the German Aerospace Centre (DLR).
UNOOSA Director attended the 2018 annual HLPF Global Partnership Exchange as a panellist for the event “Building the enabling system to maximize partnership in driving sustainable and resilient societies”.
On 14 May 2019, on the side-lines, UNOOSA held a side event at United Nations Headquarters in New York on Space4SDGs, which discussed how international cooperation in innovation and capacity building in space can support sustainable development.
UNOOSA organised a side event in New York on space applications for climate action. Satellite data and applications offer high-resolution, continuous monitoring of our planet, including in remote areas, that facilitate informed decision-making, help raise awareness about and understand the changes affecting our earth.
UNOOSA organised a side event focusing on the UN and the private space sector nwhich highlighted UNOOSA’s close collaboration with the private space sector in recent years. From operational joint activities with commercial entities through the Access to Space 4 All initiative to supporting industry perspectives in policy discussions at the WSF, UNOOSA is at the forefront in establishing collaborations with private sector stakeholders.
4.5 Supporting the VNR process.
5. How has your organization cooperated with other UN system organizations to achieve coherence and synergies in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs? In this regard, has your organization launched or intend to launch any joint programmes or projects in collaboration with other UN entities? Are there any results or lessons you would like to highlight that might help improve the design and impact of such efforts? Has your organization participated in any of the following coordination systemwide mechanisms or any other relevant platform - CEB, UNSDG, EC-ESA Plus, regional coordination meetings, UN-Energy, UN-Water, UN-Ocean, IAEG, IATT? Please specify which and indicate any suggestions you may have about improving collaborations within and across these mechanisms/platforms.
UN-Space session at WSF
A dedicated open panel on the United Nations Interagency Mechanism “UN-Space” took place as part of the World Space Forum hosted by UNOOSA, agencies of the Government of Austria, and the European Space Agency. The panel emphasized the integration of applications of space science and technology – as well as relevant regulatory frameworks – in national development strategies as tools to strengthen the capacities of Member States in sustainable development.
The United Nations and its specialised agencies conduct a coordinated programme of activities utilising space technologies. UN-Space, an inter-agency mechanism for such coordination, convenes annual sessions of the Inter-Agency Meeting on Outer Space Activities to discuss current and future activities, emergent technologies of interest and other related matters among UN system entities. To consult broader range of stakeholders, informal sessions are open not only to Member States but also private sector, NGOs and academia. The UNOOSA leads the Inter-Agency Meeting and serves as its secretariat.
UNOOSA is an observer of IAEG-SDGs and has participated in the 7th meeting in Vienna and the 8th in Stockholm. A presentation was made by UNOOSA during the 8th meeting on space for the SDGs and UNOOSA offered to provide support to countries in utilizing space technology, including geospatial information.
UNOOSA contributes and actively participates in the work of the United Nations Interagency Task Team on Science, Technology and Innovation for the SDGs (IATT) in support of the Paragraph 70 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which announced the launch of a "Technology Facilitation Mechanism" (TFM) in order to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Furthermore, the Office is represented in the IATT Group on Gender and STI Under the Interagency Task Team (IATT), a Group on Gender and STI which was formed in 2018 with the purpose of increasing synergies and collaboration among the UN, its agencies, funds and programmes on issues pertaining to STI and gender.
Memorandum of Understanding between UNOOSA and UNITAR
The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) have agreed to collaborate to further their common goals, particularly the use of space-based technology for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) focuses on several areas of cooperation. UNOOSA and UNITAR will work together to support Member States with Technical Advisory Missions, where the organizations will assess a state's risk and disaster management abilities and recommend solutions with space-based information, including training and capacity development. UNOOSA and UNITAR will also coordinate on activities and policy as well as collaborate to improve access to and raise awareness of space applications and Earth observation data.
Memorandum of Understanding between UNOOSA and UNDP
Under the MOU, UNOOSA and UNDP have agreed to focus on cooperation in the use of geo-spatial and space-based technologies for UNDP's activities, as well as coordination in activating emergency response mechanisms for the benefit of United Nations Member States. UNOOSA will work to provide UNDP with access to satellite imagery and analysis, and leverage UNDP's global user network to deliver space-based solutions for the Sustainable Development Goals. UNOOSA and UNDP have also undertaken to jointly organize annual outreach events and activities, such as conferences, seminars and workshops.
Joint meeting of the 1st and 4th Committee of UNGA (joint activity with ODA)
At the 72nd session of UNGA in 2017, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Outer Space Treaty, UNOOSA together with ODA organized the second joint meeting of the UNGA’s 1st and 4th Committee to discuss "Possible Challenges to Space Security and Sustainability". At the 74th session of UNGA in 2019, the joint panel was convened once again to discuss the topic. It was highlighted that application and increased strategic value of space operations has resulted in a growing need to enhance the safety of space operations and the security of space assets and space systems. Delegates also exchanged on the need for the development of a new legally binding instrument to complement the existing international space law.
6. How has your organization engaged with stakeholder groups, both in supporting implementation at the country, regional and global levels, and within your own organization? If yes, please provide main highlights, including any lessons learned. If your organization has established any multi-stakeholder partnerships to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, please describe them and how their performances are being monitored and reviewed.
7. Has your organization organized any conferences, forums or events designed to facilitate exchange of experience, peer and mutual learning in connection with the SDGs? If yes, please provide a brief summary, below and include lessons learned and gaps identified based on the outcomes of these events. Please also include any events you want to organize in the coming years.
United Nations/Austria World Space Forum 2019: Access to Space for All
The conference took place from 18-22 November 2019 in Vienna, Austria, and was organized by UNOOSA; The Federal Ministry of the Republic of Austria Transport, Innovation and Technology; and the European Space Agency. The World Space Forum 2019 provided an opportunity for representatives of the collective space community to address international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space activities across the four pillars of UNISPACE+50 (space economy, space society, space accessibility and space diplomacy) and concluded with specific observations and recommendations
United Nations/Fiji Workshop on the Applications of Global Navigation Satellite Systems
The workshop was organized from 24-28 June 2019 in Suva, Fiji by UNOOSA and the University of the South Pacific. This Workshop addressed the use of global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) for various applications that can provide sustainable social and economic benefits, in particular for developing countries. Current and planned projects that use GNSS technology for both practical applications and scientific explorations were presented. Cooperative efforts and international partnerships for capacity-building, training and research were discussed.
United Nations/Romania International Conference on Space Solutions for Sustainable Agriculture and Precision Farming
The conference was jointly organized from 6 to 10 May 2019 in Cluj, Romania by UNOOSA and the Government of Romania through the Romanian Space Agency (ROSA). The Conference was aimed to address key issues related to utilization of space technologies and solutions for a sustainable agriculture, addressing a number of indicators and targets under the sustainable Development Goals framework, and considering the challenges related to food security worldwide, with increasing populations and corresponding pressures on the available agricultural land.
United Nations/China Forum on Space Solutions: Realizing the Sustainable Development Goals
The Forum was jointly organized from 24 to 27 April in Changsha, China by UNOOSA and China National Space Administration (CNSA). The main objective of the UN/China Forum was to bring together space application users and solution providers to forge new partnerships, enhance international space cooperation and thus contribute to the attainment of the SDGs.
UN/Jordan Workshop: Global Partnership in Space Exploration and Innovation
The UN/Jordan Workshop: Global Partnership in Space Exploration and Innovation was organized jointly by United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs & the Regional Center for Space Science and Technology Education for Western Asia and took place from 25 to 28 March 2019, Amman, Jordan.
8. Is there any other information you would like to share, including annual reports of your organization and any impact assessment or evaluation reports? If yes, please use the space below and attach the document(s). Please also use this space to provide any other information, comments or remarks you deem necessary.
UNOOSA’s annual report for 2018 (as well as previous annual reports for 2015, 2016, and 2017) can be found at the following link:
9. In your view, what should strategic directions look like for the UN system in support of the 2030 Agenda and SDGs in the Decade of Action? What key elements should they include and what major challenges should they address?
- Promoting science and data-driven decision making through increased representation of scientific data and advice in decision-making bodies; regular channels of communication between scientists and policy makers; increased collaboration and partnerships; and greater use of technical reports and models
- Support for innovation and technology-driven approaches through cross-sector partnerships and capacity-building initiatives
- Support evidence-based projects through initiatives that define data collection and reporting standards, well-developed frameworks and indicators, and strengthening of capacity building in institutions that collect and analyze project data
- Promotion and motivation of monitoring initiatives and result-based management approaches such as the Space for Development Profile or the Space Solutions Compendium
- At present, the long-term development of our planet, its people and their prosperity is linked to the fourth industrial revolution, which is characterized by the fusion of new technologies and new business models and which will continue to both impact outer space activities and benefit from them. It is therefore important to sustain efforts undertaken at the national, regional, and international levels to foster international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space and thus to ensure the continuous growth and diversification of space activities.
- The "Space2030" agenda and its strategic objectives are aimed at sustaining and advancing those efforts and thus to ensure a better future for all by supporting and stimulating action across the five areas of critical importance identified in the 2030 Agenda: people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnerships.
10. Please suggest one or two endeavours or initiatives that the UN system organizations could undertake together to support the implementation of the SDGs between now and 2030.
- Support for a comprehensive effort to use space technology – in particular, satellite data – to assess and monitor actions taken in support of the SDGs. The Decade of Action will require coordinated, science-driven decision making not only to achieve the SDGs, but to understand the impact and effect of actions taken. Global goals with no clear geographical boundaries and diverse stakeholders mean that common frameworks, shared data, and mutual understanding of knowledge gaps and how to address them are essential for implementing and understanding the impact of actions. Satellite technology – particularly communications and Earth observation data – is key to informing these needs.
High resolution spatiotemporal data from satellites is available that provides near-continuous imagery of Earth, information about its atmosphere and oceans, and geospatial data. This information is useful for assessing the many of the targets and indicators in the SDG framework and allows for increased monitoring at local, national, and global levels. In addition to the ability to monitor and assess developments on both a local and global scale, satellite data allows for standardized information and may reduce costs and increase the accessibility of monitoring for parties with limited resources.
- Megaconstellations – large networks of satellites in orbit working together as one system – have great potential to bring the benefits of internet and telecommunications connectivity to people around the globe. These potential benefits are in line with recommendation 1A of the Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation: that by 2030, every adult should have affordable access to digital networks, as well as digitally-enabled financial and health services, as a means to make a substantial contribution to achieving the SDGs. While the contribution of megaconstellations would be significant to achieving this objective, there are also potential drawbacks of deploying huge numbers of satellites around Earth. A large number of satellites in orbit increases the likelihood of collisions between them, and as well as the amount of potentially damaging space debris in orbit resulting from collisions.
A coordinated global effort is required to address both the benefits and potential risks of deploying megaconstellations. Since the beginning of human activity in space, the United Nations has served as the main forum for deliberations and international legislation on space affairs, and continues to be the best way forward for discussion on the benefits and potential risks of using networked satellite space technology to enable global connectivity.