United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs


UN/Austria/ESA Symposium on "Space Applications for Sustainable Development: Supporting the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development"
Graz, Austria, 8-11 September 2003

Hosted and co-sponsored by the Government of Austria and the European Space Agency (ESA)


Available online resources:


1. Introduction

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, the Government of Austria and the European Space Agency (ESA) will jointly organize the first in a series of three consecutive symposia to promote activities to carry out the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (26 August � 4 September 2002, Johannesburg, South Africa). The Symposium will be hosted and co-sponsored by the Government of Austria, the State of Styria and the City of Graz and the Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology of Austria and ESA. This will be the tenth in a series of symposia organized through the United Nations Programme on Space Applications in cooperation with those co-sponsors.


2. Background

At the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), more than one hundred Heads of States and Governments reaffirmed their strong commitment to the full implementation of Agenda 21, which was adopted at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. They also committed themselves to achieving the internationally agreed development goals, including those contained in the United Nations Millennium Declaration and in the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences since 1992.

The States participating at the WSSD adopted a Plan of Implementation and committed to undertake concrete actions and measures at all levels to promote the integration of the three components of sustainable development � economic development, social development and environmental protection � as interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars. Poverty eradication, changing unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, and protecting and managing the natural resource base of economic and social development are overarching objectives of, and essential requirements for, sustainable development. The World Summit on the Information Society, to be held this year and in 2005, will address the need to bridge the digital divide between those that have access to modern communication technologies, a key for economic and social development, and those without it.

An essential element in meeting the above objectives is the availability of quality information for decision-making in time. This requires gathering and analyzing large amounts of data in a timely manner. The transmission of information, be it for health, education or disaster management purposes, is also a critical element. In both of these areas, space technology plays an important role.

The Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE III) developed a strategy whereby space science and technology could contribute to the solutions of major global and regional issues. UNISPACE III built upon demonstrated capabilities of space technology to improve the quality of life of people. Some of the existing capabilities already protect the vulnerable through effective and efficient mitigation of the adverse effects of disasters and coordination of emergency responses and humanitarian assistance. Earth observation satellites have been used successfully in Africa, Asia and Latin America to detect the risk of outbreaks of malaria and other infectious diseases. Satellite communications are being used in some developing nations to provide education and health services to rural communities. There are numerous examples of the use of space technology to protect the environment through better satellite-derived information for the management of land, ocean and fresh water resources. What is now needed is to match the demonstrated capabilities of use of space technology to the major global and regional problems identified by the United Nations Summits, and to establish functional partnerships among all stakeholders to provide operational solutions.


3. Objectives and Outcome

The goal of the series of the three Symposia, to be held in 2003-2005, is to promote the use of the demonstrated capabilities of space technology to support some of the actions called for in the Plan of Implementation of WSSD. The specific objectives of the Symposium for 2003 are: (i) to review the needs associated with the themes to be addressed at the Symposium (see section 4 below) and to identify the support that could be provided by space technology; (ii) to identify a functional partnership that could be established; and (iii) to make recommendations on how such a partnership could be established through voluntary actions that could include Governments, international organizations and other relevant stakeholders.


4. Themes to be addressed at the Symposium

The 2003 Symposium will address the following thematic areas

(a)      Providing basic health services for all and reducing environmental health threats;

(b)      Supporting integrated management and sustainable development of water resources;

(c)      Improving the scientific understanding and assessment of marine and coastal ecosystems as a fundamental basis for sound decision-making,

(d)      Supporting an integrated, multi-hazard, inclusive approach to address vulnerability, risk assessment and disaster management, including prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery,

(e)      Supporting sustainable agriculture to increasing food production and enhance food security in an environmentally sustainable way.

(f)      Supporting sustainable forest management at the national, regional and global levels;

(g)      Supporting sustainable development for Africa


5. Programme

The programme for the Symposium will include a series of technical presentations of successful applications of space technology that provide cost-effective solutions or essential information for planning and carrying out programmes or projects in the areas indicated in section 4 above. Other presentations will show examples from a user�s point of view of programmes or projects with the objectives that support national development goals and that could be better met with the use of space technology. Ample time will be set aside to allow for discussions on establishing functional partnerships through and practical ways and means.


6. Dates and Location

The Symposium will be held in Graz, Austria, at the Academy of Sciences from 8 to 11 September 2003. All selected participants will receive an information package with details on board and lodging and other local arrangements.


7. Language of the Symposium

Applicants must have a good working knowledge of English, which will be the only language of the Symposium.


8. Qualifications for Participation in the Symposium

Applicants for financial support must be in managerial or decision-making positions within governmental or research institutions with responsibilities for carrying out programmes or projects in the areas listed in section 4 above. Other participants of the Symposium would include those working in space-related institutions or companies that carry out activities that could support programmes or projects in the areas indicated in section 4.

Applicants are encouraged to review the Plan of Implementation of the WSSD and the recommendations of UNISPACE III (see section 12 below). Selected applicants will be requested to study those recommendations prior to their arrival at Graz and to generate some ideas on how to implement particular recommendations.


9. Deadline for Applications

A copy of the completed application form should be directly submitted to the Office for Outer Space Affairs. The contact of the Office is as follows:

Office for Outer Space Affairs
United Nations Office at Vienna
Vienna International Centre, Rm. E0954
P.O. BOX 500
Fax: (+43-1) 26060-5830

The original application must be submitted through the office of the Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme in the applicant�s country. Applicants seeking financial assistance should ensure that their applications are received in Vienna no later than 4 August 2003. Applications received at a later date will also be considered, however, applicants may no longer be eligible for financial support.


10. Selection of Participants

Participants will be jointly selected by the co-sponsors of the Symposium on a competitive basis from those who meet the qualifications indicated in section 7 above. The selection will be based on the information provided in the application form. Selected participants will be notified in due course.


11. Financial Arrangements

Within the limited funds made available by the co-sponsors, a limited number of selected participants from developing countries and countries with economies in transition will be offered financial support to attend the Symposium. Funded participants will be provided with round-trip air tickets between their international airports of departure and Graz, Austria and a daily subsistence allowances to cover board and lodging for the duration of the Symposium. Any cost associated with en-route expenses or any changes made to the ticket must be borne by the participants.

Due to the limited availability of financial support, participants and their nominating organizations are strongly encouraged to find additional sources of sponsorship to allow them to attend the Symposium. In the past, nominating organizations have often provided for air-travel of participants while all other expenses have been covered by the co-sponsors of the Symposium.


12. Life and Health Insurance

The co-sponsors will not assume any responsibility for life and major health insurance, nor for expenses related to medical treatment or accidental events. This will be the responsibility of each selected participant or of the nominating institution.


13. Additional Information

The latest information on this Symposium and its relevant documentation, including the Plan of Implementation of the WSSD, are available from the web site of the Office for Outer Space Affairs at http://www.oosa.unvienna.org. The report of UNISPACE III can be found at http://www.oosa.unvienna.org/unisp-3/index.html.



Reference Documents:

  • 1. Report of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, South Africa, 26 August � 4 September 2003): Political Declaration and the Plan of Implementation (Reference: A/CONF.199/20)
    MSWord document
  • 2. Statement prepared by the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Reference: Official Records of the General Assembly, Fifty-seventh Session, Supplement No. 20 (A/57/20), annex III)
    MSWord document
  • 3. Final report of the Action Team on Sustainable Development, established by the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space to implement recommendation no. 11 of the Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE III) (Reference: A/AC.105/C.1/L.264)
    MSWord document
  • 4. Note verbale circulated to the Member States of the United Nations regarding the space-related initiatives and programmes that respond to the recommendations of the World Summit on Sustainable Development as contained in its Plan of Implementation (Reference: CU 2003/129 and annex)
    Note Verbale: MSWord document
    Annex: MSWord document
  • 5. Leaflets on PUMA and AMESD of EUMETSAT (URL address: http://www.eumetsat.de) under General Information/International Cooperation
    PUMA Brochure: PDF document
    AMESD: PDF document
  • 6. Background information circulated by Austria prior to the decision by the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space to include an additional item entitled, "Space and water", in the agenda of the Committee in 2004 (Reference: A/AC.105/2003/CRP.18)
    MSWord document
  • List of Reference Documents
    MSWord document




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