Space science and space applications advance our knowledge of the universe. They also improve the daily lives of people worldwide through their contributions to environmental monitoring, management of natural resources, meteorological forecasting, climate modelling, satellite navigation, communications, and early warning systems to help mitigate potential disasters. If the international community wishes to increase access to the benefits of current space applications, and develop new technologies which may offer further benefits, there is a need to preserve and protect the outer space environment for use by future generations. Space activities need to be sustainable over the long term.
Throughout the years, the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space has considered different aspects of the long-term sustainability of outer space activities. Building on past efforts, in 2010 the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee began considering as an agenda item the long-term sustainability of outer space. A Working Group on the Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities was established, the objectives of which include identifying areas of concern for the long-term sustainability of outer space activities, proposing measures that could enhance sustainability, and producing voluntary guidelines to reduce risks to long-term sustainability. The Working Group has addressed thematic areas including sustainable space utilization supporting sustainable development on Earth; space debris, space operations and tools to support collaborative space situational awareness; space weather; and regulatory regimes and guidance for actors in the space arena.
In June 2016 the Committee agree to a first set of guidelines for the long-term sustainabiliy of outer space activities ( A/71/20, Annex). Work continues on a preambular text and a second set of guidelines, which will be brought together with the first set to form a full compendium of guidelines. The full compendium will then be referred to the General Assembly in 2018.
See below for recent documents relating to the long-term sustainability of outer space activities. For more documents, search the Documents Database.