also supported by the European Space Agency  

         Online registration  ( Please ensure that your application is complete and correct before submitting. Once you have submitted your application, you will not be able to make further changes)

1. Rationale and Context

This Conference will have the UNISPACE+50 ( see information box below) Thematic Priority nr. 5 - "Strengthened Space Cooperation for Global Health" - as the central theme while also considering the relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as SDG 3, and will aim at fostering dialogue on how to create and reinforce relevant partnerships for better utilization of space-based assets, data and technologies in addressing global health. The Conference will cover a number of essential aspects such as showcasing global health initiatives and their use of space technologies, data access, data provision services and information sharing - including data and services interoperability, capacity building, funding for gap-filling projects, identification of key stakeholders and further definition of a road-map for progressing in the development of this thematic priority. The outcomes and recommendations identified will provide inputs for the report on this thematic priority to be delivered for UNISPACE+50

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) is the United Nations office responsible for promoting international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space. UNOOSA serves as the secretariat for the General Assembly's only committee working exclusively with international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space: the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). Through the United Nations Programme on Space Applications, UNOOSA provides technical advisory services on space applications upon request by Member States or by any specialized agencies and organizes international workshops to build capacity in remote sensing, satellite navigation, satellite meteorology, tele-education and basic space sciences for the benefit of developing nations.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is the coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. It is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries, and monitoring and assessing health trends. Working through offices in more than 150 countries, WHO staff work side by side with governments and other partners to ensure the highest attainable level of health for all people.

At its 59th Session in June 2016, COPUOS endorsed seven thematic priorities for the preparation of UNISPACE+50 and identified strengthened space cooperation for global health as one of them (see §296, Al.5 in A/71/20). The objectives under this thematic priority will also guide the organization of the Conference. 

As recommended by COPUOS, UNOOSA supports within its resources the established COPUOS Scientific and Technical Subcommittee (STSC) Expert Group on Space and Global Health (the Expert Group) to further coordinate the implementation of this thematic priority.

Applications of space-based systems to global health could be classified in three main areas through the following activities:

  • Earth observation/Remote Sensing: collecting valuable local, regional, and global scale data and information that can support public health decision-making, such as for epidemics, disease management, and planning for well-being and to study and monitor vector-borne diseases
  • Telecommunication/positioning and tracking: supporting tele-health and tele-medicine applications for transmitting medical advice and information to and from rural or isolated areas with limited access to adequate medical support, tele-epidemiology and tracking vector-borne diseases
  • Space-based research (such as on-board the International Space Station): study physiologic reactions and identifying potential cures and treatments for major diseases, such as cancer

2. Conference Objectives

In order to strengthen the ongoing processes in the lead up to UNISPACE+50 and to address the UNISPACE+50 thematic priority focusing on global health, with the aim to identify gaps, needs, opportunities and recommendations for inclusion into the report prepared for UNISPACE+50 on this thematic priority, and to also support the Expert Group in its contributions, it was agreed that a dedicated flagship event is needed during 2017 to review and consider space cooperation for global health related activities, and to bring together the space and the global health communities to also explore potential future projects and collaborations.

This Conference will therefore also take into consideration past expert meetings and workshops, as well as past reports of COPUOS addressing space and global health.

The Expert Group established a roadmap articulated (A/AC.105/C.1/2017/CRP.28) with respect to the cross-cutting areas underpinning the UNISPACE+50 thematic priorities, namely Governance, Capacity Building, Resiliency, Interoperability and Space for Sustainable Development.

These cross-cutting areas, in particular resilience and interoperability, will therefore provide the conceptual framework and guide the organization of conference sessions and discussion panels, as well as the development of recommendations that will result from the conference.

Conference contributions will also be considered under the four above-mentioned pillars space economy, space society, space accessibility and space diplomacy, with a longer-term view towards the Space2030 vision.  

The main objectives guiding the organization of the conference are those defined under the thematic priority on strengthened space cooperation for global health, also in line with the longer-term objectives of COPUOS, UNOOSA and WHO:

  • To improve the use of space technologies and space-based information and systems in the global health domain,
  • To promote enhanced cooperation and sharing of information in emergencies, epidemics and early warning events, as well as on environmental parameters,
  • To enhance capability in integrating health data in disaster management plans,  
  • To strengthen capacity-building in advancing space technologies in global health efforts,
  • To identify governance and cooperation mechanisms to support this objective.

The objectives will be introduced and addressed through a series of presentations, panel discussions and interactive dialogue, aiming also at strengthening international cooperation among relevant institutions.  Contributions expected should be identifying opportunities and solutions offered by various space technologies described above.

UNOOSA already identified strong interdependency and linkages between disaster management and the public health sector as well, requiring space-based support as well as better space technology- and geospatial data availability at different levels for improved information or solutions to address problems.

In addition, the 2015 Report of the meeting on the applications of space science and technology for public health ( A/AC.105/1099) identifies the importance of global health priorities and the need for full use of space science and technology for advancing health goals of the United Nations' and WHO's Member States.

In order to also enhance existing partnerships and forge new ones in the area bridging space and global health, the Conference will also serve as a platform to engage with other international actors and specific intergovernmental entities that would help provide a broader perspective on "One-health" in the context of space applications for global health.

The Group on Earth Observations (GEO), given its efforts to promote Earth observations under an agreed societal benefit area on public health surveillance, will also be invited to support and contribute to the conference.

Given the large number of activities providing space technology support for global health and its interest in this thematic priority, the European Space Agency (ESA) will be invited to contribute to the Conference as well.  

The observations and recommendations of the Conference will be published as a United Nations General Assembly document in all official languages of the United Nations and will be brought to the attention of relevant policy- and decision making bodies.  

UNISPACE+50

The discussions at the Conference will - as indicated - inform the preparations towards  UNISPACE+50, which will be held in 2018 and marks also the fiftieth anniversary of the first United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space held in 1968 (see the information button).

3. Conference Programme and Anticipated Outcomes

The Conference shall be a starting point for building an active community of practice interested in pursuing collaborations, capacity building activities and enabling a growing network of experts engaged in the use of space sciences and technologies for global health applications.

 It is foreseen that all conference participants, representatives of UN entities attending and representatives of WHO technical departments from all six regions of WHO will be better informed about the potential contributions of space technology applicable to their mandated activities, and that specific activities, applications or technologies will be identified for concrete follow-up initiatives and projects. 

Special Events at the Conference
A high level segment of the Conference is planned, aimed at raising awareness, advancing the implementation of SDG 3 and related targets and galvanizing support for use of space science and technologies for advancing public health. The segment will include senior officials of UN, WHO, and representatives of select Member States. All UN Permanent Missions located in Geneva will be encouraged to attend as well.

 An open session of UN-Space (the United Nations Inter-agency Meeting on Outer Space Activities) will be organized as an integral segment of the Conference (on 24 th August) to provide yet another opportunity for the participants of the Conference to engage in a dialogue with Geneva-based diplomatic staff (e.g. Permanent Mission representatives) and UN entities and other organisations representatives with a view to raise awareness and build common understanding on the use of space technologies in support of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in the area of global health.

In the framework of UN-Space, OOSA has recently coordinated the preparation of a special report on space for global health, confirming thus the interest of many UN entities in this domain.

4. Participants

(a)    Staff and officials of UNOOSA and WHO
(b)    Relevant space agency representatives
(c)     Relevant experts and practitioners from other United Nations or International Organizations
(d)    Representatives of the Permanent Missions in Geneva
(e)    Experts, policy-makers from member states, and from other relevant organizations active in the field of space and/or health.

A total of approximately 120 participants are expected, including invited experts as well as staff of WHO, ITU and other United Nations entities, GEO and other International Organizations interested in the subjects addressed. While the in-person participation will be limited, the Conference will be also broadcast through WebEx or other channels to also allow for larger scale participation of those interested. 

5. Support to Qualified Applicants

Within the limited financial resources available to the co-sponsors,  a number of qualified applicants from developing countries  , who have  express  ed  the need for financial support will be selected on a competitive basis based on their qualifications, experience and expected contributions to the Conference  and  offered financial support to attend the Conference. This may include the provision of a round-trip economy class air ticket between Geneva and the applicant's international airport of departure and/or per diem for the duration of the Conference. En-route and other expenses or any changes made to the air ticket provided by the co-sponsors must be the responsibility of the participants. Selected applicants will be notified latest by July 30th 2017.

Due to the limited availability of financial resources, it is usually not possible to provide assistance to all qualified applicants who express the need for financial support. Applicants and their nominating organizations are therefore strongly encouraged to identify sources of sponsorship to allow them to attend the Conference.

6. Dates and Location

The Conference will be held from 23 to 25 August 2017 at the Headquarters of the World Health Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland, in Salle C, V Floor of the Headquarters building.

The Thirty-Seventh Session of the Inter-Agency Meeting on Outer Space Activities (UN-Space) will take place in Salle B, III Floor of the Headquarters building. 

7. Language of the Conference

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

8. Life and Health Insurance

Life and major health insurance is the responsibility of each selected participant or his/her nominating institution or government. The co-sponsors will not assume any responsibility for life and major health insurance, nor for any expenses related to medical treatment or accidents.

9. Deadline for Submission of Applications

Complete applications and abstracts shall be submitted to the Office for Outer Space Affairs through this online registration page.

Applications for participation must be received by the Office for Outer Space Affairs  no later than  23 July 2017 from applicants seeking funding support and  no later than 1 August 2017 from self-funded applicants. Only complete applications received by these deadlines will be considered. 

10. Further Information and Contact Details

For questions related to the Conference programme and participation opportunities, please contact: 
Mr. Lorant Czaran 
Office for Outer Space Affairs 
E-mail: lorant.czaran [at] unoosa.org 
Tel: +43 1 26060 4158

Dr. Ramesh Krishnamurthy 
World Health Organization
E-mail: krishnamurthyr [at] who.int 
Tel: +41 22 791 1405

For questions related to local arrangements of the Conference, the point of contact in Geneva is: 
Ms. Ruth Embaye
World Health Organization
E-mail: embayer [at] who.int
Tel: +41 22 791 2437

Logistics Information (check for updates)

For logistical information (visa arrangements, health, security, hotels, transportation) please consult the:

Accommodation 

All participants are responsible for making their own hotel booking arrangements. A wide range of accommodation options in Geneva can be found in the above link. 

Lunches, Coffee/tea Breaks

Kindly note that lunches will not be provided to Conference participants. Coffee breaks will be available

International Programme Committee (in alphabetical order):

  • Natália Archinard - Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Switzerland
  • Lorant Czaran - Office for Outer Space Affairs, United Nations
  • Aygul Duysenhanova - Office for Outer Space Affairs, United Nations
  • Antoine Geissbuhler - Geneva University, Switzerland
  • Jason Hatton - European Space Agency
  • Ramesh Krishnamurthy - World Health Organization
  • Pascal Michel - Public Health Agency of Canada, Canada
  • William Sonntag - Group on Earth Observations Secretariat, Switzerland
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