UNITED NATIONS INTER-AGENCY MEETING ON OUTER SPACE ACTIVITIES, Thirty-fourth session, 13-14 May 2014, New York

OPENING STATEMENT

BY

SIMONETTA DI PIPPO, DIRECTOR,

OFFICE FOR OUTER SPACE AFFAIRS

Dear Colleagues,

It is my pleasure to welcome you all to the thirty-fourth session of the Inter-Agency Meeting on Outer Space Activities (UN-Space). Your presence here today underscores the great importance that you and your organizations attach to collaboration in the area of using space technology and its applications within the United Nations system. As the secretariat of Inter-Agency Meeting, the Office of Outer Space Affairs feels very encouraged to see your entities being represented here today. I would like to sincerely thank the Department of Safety and Security, the co-chair of the United Nations Geographic Information Working Group (UNGIWG), for the outstanding support given in making necessary arrangements for the organization of this session.

We are meeting today in New York following the mandate given to us by the 33 rd session of the Inter-Agency Meeting, held last year in Geneva, to organize the present session in conjunction with the meeting of UNGIWG, in view of the synergies between the two inter-agency coordination mechanisms. While this symbiosis resulted in a shorter duration of the UN-Space session today, I am confident that the advantage of having the two meetings held together unquestionably outweighs any challenges resulting from a more intense schedule of our work.

At just one year to the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals and in the midst of an already intense debate on what the post-2015 agenda should look like, the UN system-wide process is already in place through the UN Task Team on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda, coordinated, at the request of the Secretary-General, by DESA and UNDP. The Office for Outer Space Affairs, being a member of the Working Group on Identification of emerging development challenges, brought to the attention of the Task Team the concerns about the challenges to the long-term sustainability of outer space activities, as well as inequalities in the access to geospatial data and capacities to use space technology for development.

Within the context of the Open Working Group of the General Assembly on Sustainable Development Goals, the Office made efforts to include into the Secretariat consolidation on means of implementation the need to improve access to and abilities to use geospatial data and information. In that sense, we put forward as target and indicator the establishment and strengthening of sustainable and standards-driven spatial data infrastructures.

The post-2015 development agenda process and the parallel work on defining Sustainable Development Goals are closely interlinked and the benefits of space tools as enabler and means of implementation of the overall objective of those processes have to be seen in the same broader context. The processes are thus inseparable. We therefore look forward to this Inter-Agency meeting being an opportunity to further discuss the views of UN entities on the role of space-related activities in a wider context of the global development agenda.

The present Secretary-General report for the biennium 2014-2015 addresses the post-2015 development agenda and it will be issued for the fifty-seventh session of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) in June this year. At the same time we dedicate tomorrow's open informal session to the theme of "Engaging space tools for development on Earth - contribution of space technology and applications to the post-2015 development agenda". Considering that next week there will be organized here at Headquarters a High-Level Event of the General Assembly on the post-2015 development agenda, including perspectives on ICT and the role of scientific and technological cooperation, we believe that the holding of our UN-Space open informal session tomorrow is timely.

In order to increase a dialogue between UN entities and Member States on the matters being addressed within the Inter-Agency Meeting, the procedure of an Open Informal Session was instituted a decade ago. As part of the revitalization process of the Inter-Agency Meeting, closer dialogue and exchange of information involve not only the United Nations and its Member States, but also external partners from private sector and civil society. Tomorrow, the 11th open informal session will be held and the topic selected witness of the need to study the benefits of space tools in addressing global development objectives.

Moreover, the holding of UN-Space in conjunction with the UNGIWG meeting certainly caters for increased opportunities to strengthen the possibilities of having space benefits acknowledged within the emerging post-2015 development agenda process.

At this point I would like to give you a brief overview of UN-Space because this is the first time in many years that we have the annual meeting here at New York and consequently with new UN entities represented. The Inter-Agency Meeting was established as a standing coordination mechanisms in 1975 based on a recommendation made by the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space for better coordination of space-related within the United Nations system. From that time until 1993 the IAM was reporting regularly to the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC) - which we know was the predecessor of CEB. When the Office for Outer Space Affairs was re-located from New York to Vienna in that year, the IAM continued as a mechanism under the leadership of OOSA but with annual reporting function to COPUOS only and with no links to CEB nor HLCP.

In addition to the formal IAM session report, the mechanism of a unique Secretary-General report on coordination of space-related activities in the United Nations system is  continuously being used as an important tool to raise awareness of the coordination of space activities with the United Nations. The SG report is of course the prime avenue for this inter-agency mechanism to make available to Member States and to the UN system as a whole an overview of the use of space technology applications within the United Nations. The other reporting function is by making available special reports on topics of broad relevance and concern where UN entities, through the IAM, are given the opportunity to address their activities in specialized areas. Those special reports were instituted more recently and are highly welcomed by COPUOS.

Consequently, today at this session we will continue to discuss the ways to enhance cooperation among the United Nations entities and we will initiate the preparation of the next special report of the Inter-Agency Meeting. The previous special reports covered the themes: "Space benefits for Africa: contribution of the United Nations" in 2009, "Space and climate change" in 2011 and "Space and food security" in 2013.

The Office for Outer Space Affairs leads the Inter-Agency Meeting and serves as its secretariat. The Office, being a United Nations entity with about 30 staff, and based in Vienna, with offices in Bonn and in Beijing for the UN-SPIDER programme, stands at the centre of international efforts to bring the benefits of space technology to meet global development needs and protect and preserve the Earth and space environment, with the prime mandate to serve COPUOS and its Subcommittees. Coordinating disaster management and emergency response; developing compatibility and interoperability among providers of satellite navigation systems; building indigenous capability in basic space technology and human space technology; and promoting capacity-building in space law are among other key priorities of the Office.

With this brief background I look forward to this Inter-Agency meeting being an opportunity to discuss the views of UN entities on the role of space-related activities in a wider context of  the global development agenda, and hope that our collaboration will result in greater use of space technology for development in the work of the United Nations entities and Member States.

In closing, I wish you all a fruitful discussion and look forward to our future collaboration and synergetic cooperation.

Thank you and Welcome to the 33 rd IAM - now abbreviated UN-Space!

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