United Nations/Austria Symposium on Space for the Sustainable Development Goals

Stronger partnerships and strengthened cooperation for 2030 and beyond

Graz, Austria, 17-19 September 2018


Available Information


The United Nations/Austria Symposium has been held in Graz as a scientific conference of international significance since 1994. This year's Symposium will take place shortly after UNISPACE+50, where the international community will consider the future course of global space cooperation for the benefit of humankind, in particular,  the contribution of space to sustainable development and to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all, is at the core of the work of United Nations. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development sets forth 17 SDGs, and each goal with specific targets to be achieved until 2030.

Space has been used as a tool for humankind for over 50 years already; it is not new to the area of development and is a critical resource for developed nations. This year, the Symposium will build around the possible contributions stemming from space-related activities to sustainable development and the contribution of the space community towards the achievement and monitoring of the SDGs (see recent study with the European GNSS Agency on GNSS and Copernicus supporting the SDGs). Today, space-related activities have a significant contribution from private entities, therefore the discussion shall include public and private partners and has as its ultimate objective to close existing gaps that prevent countries from making full use of space assets.

For countries to make full use of the available space capabilities, there is the need of understanding what space can offer, and what it takes to making it accessible considering the applicable policy regimes. On the other hand, service providers will better be able to fit to what is requested by users if their needs are known. Therefore, it is a bidirectional process.

Based on the success of last year and following the same approach, the UN/Austria Symposium will encompass the legal and policy aspects together with the technical views, providing the attendees with a holistic view on how space contributes to the sustainable development.

For more details see the Information Note.


This Symposium is a key event for the space community pursuing sustainable development, seeking to highlight the importance of space for the Sustainable Development Goals. It is expected that decision-makers from key stakeholders will attend the meeting together with representatives of user communities.

The main objective of the Symposium is to present different initiatives and to elaborate roadmaps and concrete deliverables that could serve as guidance to stress the role of space in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The particular objectives are:

  1. Elaborate on streamlining the user needs and their link to global agendas, such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Paris Agreement.
  2. Prepare a Space systems roadmap with a view on how they can contribute to the global agendas
  3. Discuss the following portfolios that can be used by users to widespread what is available:
    1.  Data and Services Access Portfolio
    2. Asset Access Portfolio
    3. Technology Access Portfolio
    4. Capacity-Building Portfolio
  4. Enhance existing partnerships and forge new ones for capacity building and institutional support;
  5. Promote participation of women and youth in space science;
  6. Provide recommendations and elaborate on a roadmap on how space can contribute to sustainable development

Thematic Sessions

Session 1: Working Groups

  • Working Group 1: User Need Process
    • Categorization of needs
    • Mechanisms to capture user needs
    • Linkage of user needs to global initiatives
  • Working Group 2: Space Systems Capacity
    • Current and in-development capacity
    • Identification of gaps
  • Working Group 3: Contributions of Space to achieving the SDGs
    • Elaborate on portfolios (data and services, infrastructure, including the space asset itself)
  • Working Group 4: Contribution to Policy Definition Processes
    • Data Access policies
  • Working Group 5: Capacity-Building
    • Generate a map of space-related capacity-building activities supporting the SDGs

The objective of the working groups is to elaborate on deliverables for each of the different processes represented.

Session 2: Facilitate Country Access to Flight Opportunities and Associated Technologies

  • The objective of the session is to provide examples of access to flight opportunities and associated technologies and how they contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • This session will contribute to the work of working groups 2, 3, 4 and 5

Session 3: Facilitate Access to Data and Services

  • The objective of this session is to provide examples of space data and services and how they contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Each speaker shall make the link between their presentation and specific SDG indicators  and targets.
  • This session will contribute to the work of working groups 2, 3, 4 and 5

Session 4: How to Engage the Space Community Views into Policy Discussions

  • The objective of the session is to identify policies supporting the use of space in a sustainable manner, enabling the access to technologies, data and services.
  • This session will contribute to the work of working groups 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

Session 5: Space Capacity-Building Initiatives towards the SDGs

  • This session will focus on the different capacity-building initiatives to raise awareness and increase knowledge associated with space technologies and policies. This activity is crosscutting as it will aid users to understand better how to express their needs and widespread the use of space as a tool for sustainable development
  • This session will contribute to the work of working groups 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

Session 6: Wrap-up session

  • This session aims at summarizing the different activities by the rapporteurs, under the optics of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Session 7: Deliverables and Implementation Plan Skeletons

  • This session will present the deliverables prepared by the working groups and additional content added during the Symposium. The session will consist of presentations by the rapporteurs followed by a dialogue to elaborate further on the deliverables.

The objective is to issue the skeleton or the first draft of the deliverables and implementation plan

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