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STATEMENT BY SIMONETTA DI PIPPO

DIRECTOR

UNITED NATIONS OFFICE FOR OUTER SPACE AFFAIRS

Fifty-second session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee
of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space

Vienna, 2-13 February 2015

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

On behalf of the Office for Outer Space Affairs, I warmly welcome you all to the fifty-second session of this Subcommittee and thank you for the opportunity to address this session of the Committee on the work of the Office. We are pleased to welcome you back,
Mr. Chairman, for another session and would like to once again assure you of our commitment to assist you in running the meetings.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

The importance attached by the international community to cooperation in the area of peaceful uses of outer space is indisputably increasing. This cooperation is a necessary driver for bringing the growing number of benefits derived from space science and technology applications to both developing and developed countries in their common pursuit of attaining the objectives of the global development agenda beyond 2015.

In advancing cooperation to a new stage of comprehensive partnership and strategic interaction, the Office will embark on new avenues and organize, on 15-17 November 2015 in Dubai, a United Nations/ United Arab Emirates High-level Forum entitled "Space as a driver for socio-economic sustainable development". The Forum will be structured along four policy pillars, namely: space economy, space society, space accessibility and space diplomacy, and will serve as a platform to promote space science and technology as universal tools with transformative power and catalytic potential for all areas of development in the post-2015 framework.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

The full substantive Secretariat support to the sessions of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, a unique intergovernmental body positioned to foster international cooperation in the peaceful exploration and use of outer space, and its subsidiary bodies, including this Subcommittee, had been successfully delivered by the Office in the past year. The Office is committed to continued support to the Committee and to effective implementation of its various programmed activities, including those under the United Nations Programme on Space Applications, UN-SPIDER, Executive Secretariat function under ICG, coordination of UN-Space inter-agency actions, and in discharging the responsibilities of the Secretary-General under the legal regime on outer space. More detailed information will be provided by the Expert on Space Applications and the Coordinator of the UN-SPIDER programme during the course of this session.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

The Office's resources, particularly vis-a-vis, adequate human resources, remains a critical issue. The most significant impact of General Assembly resolution 67/248 of 24 December 2012 was the loss of a P4 post in the Space Applications Section. The Office was able to mitigate the immediate impact in 2014 by hiring, for a few months, a person with the necessary education and experience to support the delivery of the activities planned. The funds that enabled this recovery action have now been exhausted and failing the availability of extra-budgetary resources for this purpose, the Office will not be able to do the same in 2015. As you will hear from the Expert on Space Applications, the number of activities in 2015 is extensive, including 2 workshops that were postponed to 2015 for a variety of reasons. The full programme is placing an extra-ordinary burden on the Programme on Space Applications current staff and is not sustainable in the long term.

Apart from the fact that the number of activities the Programme can implement in a single year will have to be reduced as of 2016, the most pressing concern, is the possibility that the Office might be forced to postpone and/or cancel as much as 2 workshops in 2015 should there be unanticipated staff movements within the Programme in the coming months. We will make every effort to avoid such an eventuality, but given the current staffing shortfall, I believe it is prudent to alert you to the consequence of the loss of another senior member of the team this year.

As a potential way of improving the staffing profile of the Office, my team and I have initiated preliminary consultations with a number of delegations to discuss opportunities and explore ways and means of redressing the shortfall being experienced in our regular budget.

With respect to the Programme Budget of the Office for the biennium 2016-2017, I regret to inform that the Office has been instructed to reduce its budget by a further $58,000. This further cut will impact on the ability of the Office to be represented at major UN Conferences and important Space-related meetings. The Office will no longer be in a position to accept participation in such activities unless the costs can be covered by the organizers of those events or through extra-budgetary resources. The cut will also force the Office to reduce the number of participants to be funded from regular budget resources to the capacity building activities we will conduct in 2016-2017.

In light of the continued reduction of resources from the regular budget I would like to draw your attention to paragraph 16 of General Assembly resolution 69/85. Together with the Assembly, I urge all Member States to contribute to the Trust Fund in Support of the United Nations Programme on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. Our ability to continue to fully implement our mandate, particularly vis-à-vis our role in fostering capacity-building in the use of space science and technology, is more dependent on the availability of sufficient extra-budgetary resources, than ever before. Without your contributions, the Office is unable to plan for the future and will be unable to step-up technical and legal advisory services for which the demand continues to increase.

On a more positive note, I am pleased to express our sincere appreciation to our donors in the past year. I hope you are able to appreciate the pivotal role that voluntary contributions, both cash and in-kind, play in our ability to support Member States in their effort to build capacity. The bulk of the activities conducted under framework of the ICG and UN-SPIDER are funded from voluntary contributions and a significant portion of the resources provided for the activities of the Programme on Space Applications is provided in-kind by the host Governments and institutions of those activities. I invite you to carefully read the reports you'll have before you on the related activities. More details on the level of extra-budgetary resources received and our donors in 2014 are contained in the annex to this statement.

I and other colleagues will continue our discussions with many of you regarding enhancing the resource framework of the Office. Every contribution is important to us, and even more so in face of the current economic situation as well as the constraints in relation to increasing the level of regular budget resources without a decision from the Committee on this matter. I trust that I can count on your continued support as we explore existing and new opportunities to strengthen the Office.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

It should be mentioned that in line with General Assembly resolution 68/50 on transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities, the Committee at its fifty-seventh session last year agreed on the importance of considering the broader perspective of space security and associated matters that would be instrumental in ensuring the safe and responsible conduct of space activities. The Committee decided to consider at its next session in 2015 the recommendations of the Group of Governmental Experts on Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures in Outer Space Activities (A/68/189) as they relate to safety of space operations and the long-term sustainability of outer space activities.

In this context, the role of the Office for Outer Space Affairs in providing one of the existing most important tools for enhancing transparency and confidence in space activities should be noted. The Office is mandated since four decades to maintain the central United Nations Register on Objects Launched into Outer Space, under the obligation of the Registration Convention of 1975. The Register functions as the core mechanism for treaty-based transparency and confidence-building. The registration regime, as laid down in the Registration Convention, is not designed for technical or legal means of tracking space objects in orbit or beyond, nor serving as a comprehensive space situational awareness (SSA) mechanism. The extent of information exchange through official registration submissions is bound by the provisions laid down in the Convention.

At the same time it is important to recognize the impact of the 2007 General Assembly resolution on registration practice (resolution 62/101) where we note that several States increasingly use the recommendations of that resolution to provide additional and voluntary registration data for the purpose of the UN Register on the change of status of space objects in orbit, information on de-orbiting and similar information they deem important for the purpose of the registration regime and as appropriate to enhance the safety of space operations. We are deeply committed to ensuring we discharge our responsibilities within the mandates given to us in the most effective and efficient manner, and we are pleased that the Register continues to enhance confidence among space actors by providing transparency through its mechanisms.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

The 10th Meeting of the International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (ICG) will be organized by the United States of America and held in Boulder, Colorado, from 1 to 6 November. Furthermore, the United Nations International Meeting on GNSS will be held on 14 - 18 December 2015 in Vienna. I am pleased to note that significant progress continues to be made through ICG and its Providers' Forum, and the results of this work not only promote the capabilities of global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) to support sustainable development, but also promote new partnerships among members of ICG and institutions of the broader user community, particularly in developing nations. In celebrating the 10th anniversary of the ICG this year, the Office is recognizing and acknowledging the value of increased collaboration among system operators and the global user community and will continue to further its contributions to these achievements in the future.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

In the upcoming World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) to take place in Sendai, Japan in March 2015, Member States will be requested to continue their commitments to reduce the existing level of risk, to prevent the generation or increase of risks in the future and to increase the resilience of communities exposed to risk. In the new framework for disaster risk reduction to be promoted at the World Conference in Sendai, Member States will be also requested to implement concrete actions to achieve those goals, and to monitor and report on advances in disaster risk reduction.

The Office for Outer Space Affairs has been leading since 2014 the coordination of a group of partners involved in space, satellite technology and other Earth observation technologies to work together to respond to the requirements of the global disaster risk community to implement the post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction within the resources available. The partners are committed to work within a synergy framework, open to partners, providers and users equally, so that specific requirements and user needs can find a collaborative response by mobilising the potential of all EO expertise available globally. Within that coordination, the Office has prepared White Papers on "Earth observations in support of national strategies for disaster-risk management" and "Promoting interoperability of Early Warning Systems" to ensure that space-based applications have received the visibility they deserve.

In a follow up on the outcomes of the World Conference, a joint OOSA /Germany Conference will be co-organised with DLR on 26-28 May in Bonn. The Conference will aim at ways and means of institutionalizing the use of space-based information in national plans and regional and global platforms, and discuss international space cooperation mechanisms to foster national implementation of the post-2015 disaster risk reduction framework.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

The cooperation between the International Charter 'Space and Major Disasters' and the Office for Outer Space Affairs was highlighted and detailed in statements and presentations at a number of international events and conferences during the reporting period. Every opportunity was used by staff to raise awareness on the potential benefits offered by the International Charter and, particularly, the Universal Access initiative, in accordance with the original Cooperating Body Agreement. We are hosting on 4 February, on the margin of this session of STSC, a training for Project Managers of the Charter and will explore ways to further support the Universal Access initiative during the 6th Meeting of the Regional Support Offices of UN-SPIDER, on 5 and 6 February, another side meeting to this STSC.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

I would now turn to some further aspects of importance involving coordination among United Nations system entities. The General Assembly, in its resolution 69/38 of 2 December 2014, stressed the importance of the note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report of the Group of Governmental Experts on Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures in Outer Space Activities (GGE) published on 29 July 2013 under the symbol number A/68/189. In the report, the Group concluded that the world's growing dependence on space-based systems and technologies and the information they provide requires collaborative efforts to address threats to the sustainability and security of outer space activities.

In that resolution, the General Assembly also decided to convene a joint ad hoc meeting of the Disarmament and International Security Committee (First Committee) and the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee) to address possible challenges to space security and sustainability, and to include in the provisional agenda of its seventieth session, under the item entitled "General and complete disarmament", a sub-item entitled "Joint ad hoc meeting of the First and Fourth Committees on possible challenges to space security and sustainability".

With regard to the United Nations system, the General Assembly encouraged relevant entities and organizations of the United Nations system to coordinate, as appropriate, on matters related to the recommendations contained in the report. In this connection, contacts between the Office for Outer Space Affairs and the Office for Disarmament Affairs are initiated. Moreover, the Inter-Agency Meeting on Outer Space Activities (UN-Space) agreed at its 34 th session in May 2014 to include, at its session this year, an exchange of views on the report, pertaining to the coordination of United Nations system entities. I have also been invited by the European Union working party on disarmament affairs to present the work of the Office for Outer Space Affairs at a meeting in Brussels on 10 February this year.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

As part of the Inter-Agency Meeting on Outer Space Activities, the Office is planning to organize a joint UN-Space - Bonn conference high-level panel on space space-based information for development on 28 May 2015 in Bonn. UN-Space will also publish its upcoming special report on the theme of space and global health.

In the area of global health, the Office is continuing its cooperation with WHO. As a follow-up to the Expert Meeting on the International Space Station Benefits for Health held during the 51st session of STSC, which linked the leadership priorities of the World Health Organization to potentially promising solutions from the space agencies, the Office is exploring opportunities for furthering cooperation between the public health community and the space community in order to promote the use of human spaceflight-related solutions and technologies for global health.

Another inter-agency effort, a joint ICAO/ UNOOSA Aerospace Symposium has be organized in Montréal from 18 to 20 March 2015, to bring together for the first time both aviation and space communities from around the globe. This landmark event will initiate a common understanding of the challenges and opportunities related to commercial space transportation development, as well as provide possible ideas on how to address them. It will aim to present a good overview of existing regulations and practices, as well as safety management and systems engineering methods used, with a focus on sharing the aerospace with civil aviation. This event will be an opportunity for networking, collaboration and coordination between States, industry, and others, and it marks a new collaborative attitude between ICAO and OOSA.

The Office is a Participating Organisation to the Group on Earth Observation (GEO). I personally resumed a closer coordination with its Secretariat in Geneva and have established a channel of communication with its Director, Ms. Barbara Ryan. The Office, through its UN-SPIDER Programme, is now leading a consortium of institutions promoting Earth Observation as an essential tool to support nations towards their goals in disaster risk reduction and towards sustainable development. Together with us and GEO, this consortium is preparing joint commitments in support of those global agendas and I hope to secure support from States members of COPUOS in the future for the implementation of innovative initiatives this consortium will propose. With the Director of GEO, it is our intention to mobilise resources to establish a liaison office of the Office for Outer Space Affairs at GEO, hopefully in 2015. My team is also looking, with its networks of partners, to identify opportunities of collaboration with GEO. The overlap in goals between GEO and our Office makes us natural partners and allies and I look forward this rapprochement.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

I am pleased to inform delegations that a panel discussion on space and sustainable development within the context of the post-2015 development agenda was organized by the Office for Outer Space Affairs on the opening day of the plenary deliberations by the General Assembly Fourth Committee on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space on 15-17 October 2014. The importance of space technology in addressing the post-2015 development agenda is also the theme of the report of the Secretary-General on coordination of space-related activities for the period 2014-2015 and the focus of the recent UN-Space Open Informal Session. This manifests our approach in mapping out the activities of the Office linked to the fulfilment of the development goals.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

Now, at the critical stage when the world formulates global development agenda in the post-2015 context, there is a growing recognition by the global community of the contribution of space technology for informed decision making. The Office for Outer Space Affairs fulfils a broad mandate in promoting the peaceful uses of outer space, bringing space-related capacity to all parts of the World. The use of space technology applications for the benefit of developing countries and for global development is the paramount objective of the Office. To continue making achievements in this important field, we are committed to working together with States members and permanent observers of COPUOS, within the UN system, and among potential partners on the above endeavours.

Thank you for your attention.

 

Annex

HIGHLIGHTS OF SUBSTANTIVE ACTIVITIES OF THE OFFICE

The Office implements its well established programme on capacity-building in space law. In 2014, the United Nations workshop on space law has been organized by the Office in cooperation with the Government of China, the China National Space Administration and APSCO in Beijing from 17 to 21 November. The workshop focused on the Role of National Space Legislation in Strengthening the Rule of Law and used a multi-level approach that seeks to increase knowledge and awareness of the international treaties and principles on outer space and to provide a basis for their implementation on a practical level through the development and administration of domestic legislation and regulatory regimes.

Within the framework of the Programme on Space Applications, activities in the year 2014 were aimed at building capacity in the use of space science and technology in developing countries, as well as to raising awareness of socio-economic benefits of space technology applications at the national, regional, and international levels. Basic space science, Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), human space technology, small satellites, space law, and the use of space technology for natural resources management and environmental monitoring were among the many areas focused upon by the Programme in the past year.

Since the last session of the Committee in 2014, the UN-SPIDER programme provided technical advisory missions to five countries; delivered trainings at a national level in four countries and organised expert meetings and conferences for the global community in four countries; the network of Regional Support Offices is expected to received 2 new members in 2015, bringing the network to 18. The Knowledge Portal of UN-SPIDER is constantly improved and has very recently received a face-lift that we invite you to appreciate; note that it now has Spanish and French versions.

The General Assembly resolution 61/110, which established the UN-SPIDER Programme, stated that the programme should be supported through voluntary contributions. We are thankful to the Governments of China and Germany for their commitment to the Programme which provides the office today with funding to continue implement an even larger number of activities until the end of 2017. We would like to invite interested Member States to consider the provision of necessary resources as voluntary contributions and/or as concrete collaboration and partnership offers, in order to enable the programme to respond to the growing demand for support in disaster risk reduction and emergency response.

In 2014, the thirty-fourth session of UN-Space was held from 13 to 14 May in New York. The session was organized back-to-back with the 14th meeting of the United Nations Geographical Information Working Group (UNGIWG), a network of United Nations professionals working in the fields of cartography and geographic information science. A joint UN-Space - UNGIWG meeting was held in the afternoon of 14 May 2014. At its session,
UN-Space decided to focus its upcoming special report on the theme of space and global health.

STAFF MOVEMENTS AND ADMINISTRATIVE CHANGES

The following staff movements took place in the Office since the Subcommittee met last year. Ms. Simonetta Di Pippo was appointed as the new Director of the Office in March 2014.

Within the Office, Ms. Sinead Harvey (Ireland) and Mr. Robert Wickramatunga (United Kingdom) moved from the Committee, Policy and Legal Affairs Section to the Office of the Director. This move accommodates the cross-cutting nature of the public outreach and communications functions, as well as reflects the growing importance the Office attaches to the United Nations Register of Space Objects launched into Outer Space.

With regard to further changes in the Committee, Policy and Legal Affairs Section: Ms. Sama Payman (Australia) assumed larger responsibilities at the Office of the Director-General of UNOV. In the meanwhile, recruitment for a post of legal officer in the section is currently underway. Last week, Ms. Romana Kofler (Slovenia) assumed larger responsibilities at a post of Programme Officer. In September 2014, Ms. Heli Pahlman (Finland) moved to a post within the Department of Field Support's Conduct and Discipline Unit. Ms. Tanya Keusen (Canada), who previously served in the Department of Field Support, transferred to the post previously occupied by Ms. Pahlman.

In the Space Applications Section, Mr. Lorant Czarant (Romania) has retuned back to the Office in May 2014 after a temporary assignment at the United Nations Cartographic Section in New York, and Mr. Coen Bussink (the Netherlands), who was temporarily filling that post, returned to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, where he serves as a GIS focal point for illicit crop monitoring. Mr. Werner Balogh (Austria) has assumed larger responsibilities as a Programme Officer in the section, and recruitment for the post, previously occupied by Mr. Balogh, is in progress. The Office had to wish farewell to Mr. Sergei Chernikov (Russian Federation) and Ms. Ayoni Oyeneyin (Nigeria) on their retirement after dedicated years of long service for the United Nations. At the end of January 2015 the Office had to wish farewell to Mr. Peter Stumpf (Germany), who has assured the development and functioning of the UN-SPIDER Knowledge Portal over the last years. The Office also had to wish farewell to Ms. Mika Ochai (Japan) and Mr. Aimin Niu (China), both experts on a non-reimbursable loan (NRL), as well as to Mr. Markus Woltran (Austria), who was with the Office as a Junior Professional. At the same time, the Office welcomed Mr. Myoshi Takanori (Japan) and Mr. Joachim Post (Germany) as NRL experts in the Vienna Headquarters and the UN-SPIDER Bonn Office, respectively. Mr. Ahmed Osman (Austria) assumed responsibilities at a post of staff assistant at the Section.

EXCHANGE OF LETTERS

The necessity for the timely conclusion of an agreement/exchange of letters prior to the holding of workshops, training courses and seminars organized by the Office on behalf of the United Nations and held away from established Headquarters is mandated by the General Assembly in GA resolution 47/202 of 22 December 1992 and reflected in document ST/AI/342 of 8 May 1987. In this connection, Member States are urged to be mindful that an Agreement with standard UN clauses should be concluded at least 3 months before the anticipated date of the meeting to allow formal letters of invitation and other obligations to be carried out. Once firm deadlines for the conclusion of all legal arrangements have been established, non-compliance could result in a postponement or cancellation of the event.

RESOURCES

Regular Budget Resources overview:

Thousands of United States dollars

2010-2011

Expenditure

2012-2013

Expenditure

2014-2015

Appropriation

(as per A/RES/68/248)

2016-2017

Estimate

8 592.0

8 305.5

8 160.6

8 102.4

Extra-budgetary Resources

Thousands of United States dollars

 

2014

Donors

Cash contributions (excl. prior period adjustments)

1 130.0

Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO); Austrian Academy of Sciences; Austrian Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology; Austrospace; Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education (CICESE); China Manned Space Agency (CMSA); China National Space Administration (CNSA); City of Graz and State of Styria, Austria; COSPAR; ESA; European Commission; European GNSS Agency (GSA); German Aerospace Center (DLR); Government of China; Government of Germany; Government of Japan; Government of USA; Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Secretariat; IAF; Inter-Islamic Network on Space Science and Technology (ISNET); Istituto Superiore Mario Boella (ISMB), Italy; Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA); Joanneum Research, Austria; King Saud University, Riyadh; Mexican Space Agency (AEM); NOAA, USA; Politecnico di Torino, Italy; Prince Sultan Institute for Environmental, Water & Desert Research; PSIPW General Secretariat; Royal Center for Remote Sensing (CRTS), Rabat; ZARM FAB mbH, Bremen, Germany

In-kind Contributions* (Assessed at)

1 015.0

* Includes the assessed value of the salaries for staff providing services to the Office under the Associate Expert Programme and Non-reimbursable loan framework.

OUTREACH EVENTS AND COMMUNICATIONS APPROACH

Web site development

The Office is looking forward to launching our new website this year. The new design is intended to allow users to discover the Office, the work being done and the Office's role in promoting the peaceful uses of outer space. With easier navigation, improved access to information, and multimedia additions, the website will better support its users and the general public. This structural and design upgrade has been managed by an internal Web Development Team who work closely with the Information Technology Services Section in UNOV. A short presentation on the new website will be made next week.

The Office also actively supports our public outreach through use of social media tools. This has enabled us to extend our public information reach globally.

World Space Week

A UN-declared celebration since 1999, in 2014 World Space Week, under the leadership of the World Space Week Association, celebrated with over 1,400 events in 80 countries. Under the title "Space: Guiding your way", the successful global outreach and education campaign celebrated the link between space and society. The Office looks forward to celebrating this year's World Space Week in October on the theme of "Discovery".

International Day of Human Space Flight

On Friday, 12 April 2014, the International Day of Human Space Flight declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 2011, was celebrated globally. The Office marked the event with the official launch of the third edition in our series of 'Messages from Space Explorers to future generations", and with the organization of a social media campaign (twitter chat) with the Expert of Space Applications, Mr. Takao Doi, on topics related to Human Space Flight and the work of the Office.  

This year for the International Day of Human Space Flight on 12 April, the Office is looking forward to celebrating the "important contribution of space science and technology in achieving sustainable development goals" (A/RES/65/271) with our local partners and through social media. Details of our plans for the day will be announced shortly on our website.

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