Monday, 19 September 2016

11.00 a.m.

Vienna International Centre

Building "C", Conference Room C-3, 7 th floor


[check against delivery]

Distinguished Representatives of Permanent Missions,

It is a pleasure for me indeed to welcome you all today at this briefing. I initiated this practice of holding regular briefings for Permanent Missions by the Director of the Office for Outer Space Affairs in order to institute a closer dialogue with you on processes and activities of interest and importance to Member States. Today we are meeting in this format for the second time, with the first briefing held a year ago, and I am pleased to see your presence here today as a demonstration of the usefulness of these sessions.

The invitation circular that contains a list of the main topics for this briefing was circulated to all Permanent Missions at Vienna on 18 August 2016, and is available at the back of the room. This statement is also available at the back of the room and will after this briefing be posted on the UNOOSA website. I will address each of the main points, and I and my team present here today are ready to respond to any questions you may have.

I. Preparations for the 2018 "UNISPACE+50" segment of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, including on the UNISPACE+50 thematic priorities, their objectives, mechanisms, and progress of work

Distinguished Representatives,

COPUOS, at its fifty-eighth session, endorsed the plan of work for the fiftieth anniversary in 2018 of the first United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space ("UNISPACE+50").

As an ambitious undertaking by COPUOS, the fiftieth anniversary of the first UNISPACE conference, UNISPACE+50, to take place in June 2018 as a segment of the 61 st COPUOS session, will consider and assess the current status, and chart the future role, of the Committee and UNOOSA as important players in shaping global space governance. The UNISPACE+50 thematic priorities, approved by COPUOS this year, while clearly aligning with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, will also help us in identifying the areas where stronger space governance and supporting structures are required to protect the space environment and secure the long-term sustainability of outer space activities to ensure that the benefits of space strongly support nations to implement the 2030 Agenda and reach its goals.

Delegations will find more information about the thematic priorities and their objectives in the annex to this statement.

Distinguished Representatives,

The UNISPACE+50 Steering Committee was established by the Committee at its 58th session last year 1 and endorsed by the General Assembly. The Steering Committee has met four times, first intersessionally in late 2015, and again in conjunction with the sessions of the Committee and its Subcommittees in 2016. The Office for Outer Space Affairs supports the Steering Committee and coordinates preparation for UNISPACE+50 through our internal Project Team. The Office will make available a conference room paper to STSC in 2017 outlining ideas and prospects for the organization of the UNISPACE+50 segment at COPUOS in 2018.

With regards to current and near-term activities for UNISPACE+50 preparations:

  • UNOOSA issued a conference room paper on the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and global space governance 2 that contained a historical overview of the UNISPACE conferences and connected the resulting mandates and programmes to the preparation activities for UNISPACE+50. This document is now being reviewed for issuance as a parliamentary document in all official languages of the United Nations on time for the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee in 2017.
  • In total, the UNOOSA internal Project Team has met 25 times since its establishment to discuss the Office-wide preparation activities for UNISPACE+50. The topics addressed in the Project Team range from administrative and organisational issues to in-depth preparations of the Office's work on the approved seven thematic priorities. To maintain a smooth management of the preparatory phase for UNISPACE+50, UNOOSA has internally assigned staff members to be in charge administratively and technically for each thematic priority.
  • The Office has issued a Note Verbale (OOSA/2016/8 - CU 2016/171 of 5 July 2016) to all Permanent Missions of States members of the Committee announcing the decision of COPUOS to create an Action Team on Global Partnership in Space Exploration and Innovation and requesting the nomination of members for that Action Team. Additionally, the Note Verbale contained an invitation to States members to volunteer to host dedicated UN workshops and conferences for the period June 2016 - December 2017 that would help shape the preparation of relevant proposals in the framework of the approved thematic priorities.
  • The Action Team on Global Partnership in Space Exploration and Innovation is in preparation. The Office has received membership nominations from a handful of States members of the Committee. Other States members are encouraged to submit their membership of the Action Team. The development of the Terms of Reference has already been initiated. An information circular will be issued in due time before the first face-to-face meeting of this Action Team, to take place in parallel to the STSC session in 2017.
  • The Office is working with the respective Chairs on a strategy to connect the work of the Working Group on Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities and the Working Group on the Status and Application of the Five United Nations Treaties on Outer Space under the thematic priority of Legal Regime of Outer Space and Global Space Governance: Current and Future Perspectives. The Office will provide further information on the strategy adopted in time for the next STSC session.
  • The Chairs of the Expert Groups on Space Weather and Global Health have been informed of the COPUOS decisions. Following an internal assessment, in a second communication the Chairs will be informed about the possibility to coordinate their work online through a dedicated electronic tool. As mandated by COPUOS, UNOOSA also informed the Chairs about the support UNOOSA is going to provide in administrative terms, in order to ensure the smooth organization of the activities in line with the COPUOS requirements.
  • Under the thematic priority International Framework for Space Weather Services, the Office will now approach the World Meteorological Organisation to discuss prospects for coordination and collaboration. This action is also linked to the Office's preparations of the UN-Space special report on space weather, to be issued for COPUOS in 2017.
  • Under the thematic priority Strengthened Space Cooperation for Global Health, the Office has initiated discussions with the World Health Organisation to identify possible areas of cooperation.
  • Under the thematic priorities of International Cooperation towards low-emission and resilient societies and Capacity-building for the twenty-first century, the Office has started internal evaluation and outlining of ideas and projects.
  • The Office is working on the elaboration of a "Space for Women" project under the thematic priority Capacity-building for the twenty-first century, linked to the COPUOS request to place specific attention on education in STEM, in particular for women in developing countries.
  • The Office received Notes Verbales offering to host or proposing workshops under the thematic priorities in different regions of the world. The Project Team has started internal discussions on the schedule of activities towards UNISPACE+50 and under the thematic priorities. These activities will be balanced, also in terms of regional locations.
  • The Office will present at the upcoming International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico - during a Global Networking Form and through two papers - to the international space community the background of UNISPACE+50, its preparatory activities and expected outcomes. The Office will also display for the first time a booth at the IAC exhibit in Mexico, and I would like to thank Mexico for their hospitality and generosity in hosting us at the exhibit.

As part of advancing the overarching UNISPACE+50 process, in accordance with the UNISPACE+50 founding document A/AC.105/L.297, the Office has launched a three-year series of High-level Fora (HLF) to take place in 2016-2018 on the theme "Space as a driver for socioeconomic sustainable development", as endorsed by the Committee at its 58th session last year. The first High-level Forum is scheduled to take place on 20-24 November 2016 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and I would like to encourage Member States to promote greater participation in the Forum.

These High-level Fora will serve as an effective platform for the collective space community to provide guidance and recommendations in support of UNISPACE+50 on the potential of space science and technology to foster global development. The HLF series will also provide an opportunity to inject new ideas from a variety of experts representing a broad spectrum of opinions on issues grouped into categories of increased value for our stakeholders under the four pillars of space economy, space society, space accessibility and space diplomacy. The pillars constitute the UNISPACE+50 vision and form a blueprint for action in shaping the global "Space2030" agenda as well as facilitating the attainment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

II. Preparations for the Fourth Committee of the General Assembly on its agenda item on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space (11-13 October 2016)

The Fourth Committee will consider its agenda item on "International cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space" from 11 to 13 October in morning meetings on each of those days.

General debate in the plenary will be followed by the Working Group of the Whole of the Fourth Committee chaired by the Chair of COPUOS.

The draft resolution on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space is tabled by Canada in its capacity as the Chair of COPUOS, and is already available in ODS in all official languages of the United Nations as document A/C.4/71/L.2 of 1 September 2016.

III. Invitations to Member States for contribution to the work of the 54th session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee (30 January to 10 February 2017), the 56th session of the Legal Subcommittee (27 March to 7 April 2017) and the 60th session of the Committee (7 to 16 June 2017)

A. Contribution to STSC and LSC

Formal communications in Note Verbales have been submitted. NV OOSA/2016/9 - CU 2016/309 of 29 July 2016 relates to contributions to the work of STSC and NV OOSA/2016/12 - CU 2016/337/OOSA/CPLA of 29 August 2016 relates to contributions to the work of LSC. A further communication will be processed in due time on contributions to the COPUOS session in 2017. Mr. Hedman is available in case you need additional information in this respect.

B. WG on LTS

At its fifty-ninth session in June 2016, the Committee agreed on a first set of guidelines for the long-term sustainability of outer space activities, as contained in COPUOS report A/71/20, Annex. The Committee also agreed to extend the mandate of the STSC Working Group on the Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities so that it may continue its work on a preambular text and the remaining draft guidelines. A full compendium of guidelines will be referred to the General Assembly in 2018.

An Invitation Circular on the Third Intersessional Meeting of the Working Group on the Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities, to be held in Vienna from 19 to 23 September 2016, was communicated to States members of COPUOS on 28 June 2016. This is a closed meeting of the Working Group. Those informal inter-sessional consultations start in this Conference room at 3.00 pm today.

IV. Activities of the Office for Outer Space Affairs.

A. Promotion of space-based technology and applications in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Last year I informed you of the actions of the Office to bring space technology and applications into important global agreements reached in 2015: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs; the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030; and the commitments of Member States to adapt to climate change, which subsequently became the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. We have continued to pursue this effort in presenting the benefits of Earth observation, navigation and positioning systems and satellite telecommunication and their integration for socio-economic development worldwide.

I also referred last year to our contribution to the Heads of Space Agencies Summit on Climate Change and Disaster Management in Mexico City in September. The Declaration of the Heads of Agencies, to which we contributed text and concepts, was brought to the Paris Climate Change Conference last December. This high-level input is again being planned for COP22 to be held in Marrakech this November, and I will attend the High Level Meeting with the Heads of Space Agencies, hosted by the Morocco Royal Centre for Remote Sensing on November 11 th, during the COP22 itself. It is expected that this new declaration will have even more visibility. Mr. St-Pierre has represented me at a preparatory meeting in Rabat on 7 September on the theme "Defense and climate change".

You will appreciate that these activities are now even more important in the context of UNISPACE+50, and in particular with the thematic priority " International cooperation towards low-emission and resilient societies".

B. UNOOSA capacity-building activities through the Programme on Space Applications

Following the endorsement by COPUOS of the 7 thematic priorities for UNISPACE+50, the Office has embarked on a review of its capacity-building and institutional strengthening strategy to increase its impact and respond in an innovative way to the growing demand from Member States, in particular developing countries, for support for their capacity-building efforts in establishing national space infrastructure and in making optimal use of space science, technology and applications for the benefit of their citizens, in line with the thematic priority "Capacity-building for the twenty-first century". This will lead to a concrete plan for 2017 and 2018, optimizing financial and human resources towards activities directly in line with UNISPACE+50.

The activities of the Programme on Space Applications will also target thematic priorities "Global partnership in space exploration and innovation", "Strengthened space cooperation for global health", "International framework for space weather services" and "International cooperation towards low-emission and resilient societies".

The Office has signed collaboration agreements in 2016 that will also bring major innovations in the way capacity-building is done in the space sector. Following the model of the collaboration with the Government of Japan on "KiboCUBE" and with the Center of Applied Space Technology and Microgravity (ZARM) in Germany, the Office is engaging with the Chinese Manned Space Agency (CMSA) and with Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) to open even more the world of space science, research and development to developing countries. The initiatives with Japan, China and SNC cover the entire current availability for experiments in low Earth orbit through different paths and partners. This model is not only innovative in its approach, but it is a recognition of the capacity of the Office to generate partnerships that would not exist otherwise, thus showing the uniqueness of the Office itself.

Lastly, the Office serves as the executive secretariat of the International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (ICG). We co-organized its 10th anniversary meeting in Boulder, United States, last November and we are preparing for the 11th meeting to be held in Sochi, Russian Federation, this coming November.


In 2016 the UN Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER) celebrated its 10 th anniversary. The Office took this opportunity to host the "UN-SPIDER+10 Conference: Enhancing the resilience of nations through the use of space-based information" in Vienna this past June. The conference took stock of the efforts conducted by the programme in the last decade regarding the promotion of the use of space-based information in disaster risk reduction and emergency response efforts. From this review, UN-SPIDER will streamline its efforts in the next decade, taking into consideration the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Paris Climate Change Agreement, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Through UN-SPIDER and the Programme on Space Applications, the Office also promotes the exchange of knowledge and experience to allow Member States and staff of any United Nations entity or other inter-governmental organizations and NGOs to learn about innovative new methods, best practices and possibilities for accessing and using satellite-derived resources.

In particular, the "Discovery Days", the awareness-raising events explaining the potential and benefits of very high resolution satellite imagery, are organized with the support of DigitalGlobe, in the context of the Memorandum of Understanding OOSA signed on behalf of the United Nations with DigitalGlobe as a leading provider of Very High Resolution satellite imagery.

The Discovery Days were organized firstly in collaboration with FAO and UNECE in Rome in December 2015 and then again in collaboration with the GEO Secretariat this past May in Geneva. The 3 rd Discovery Day will be held on 10 October 2016 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, again in cooperation with DigitalGlobe, and in collaboration this time with UNDP and other UNHQ departments, focusing on peace and security as well as on sustainable development related applications of very high resolution satellite imagery. The event will be open to all staff of the UNHQ as well as to interested staff of all Permanent Missions in New York, and will be organized to coincide with the end of the World Space Week. If you are attending the 4 th Committee meeting from 11 th to 13 th of October, you may consider joining us also on October 10 th for this Discovery Day.

More than 35 countries have been assisted over the past decade by the UN-SPIDER Programme to access and use space-based data and information for disaster risk reduction and emergency response. In this past year alone, the Office has provided technical support to the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Gabon, Georgia, Laos, Nepal, Myanmar, and Vietnam. Later this year we will also provide support to Costa Rica. In addition, the network of UN-SPIDER regional support offices now comprises twenty regional or national centres of expertise.

The programme also provides training, including through a series of activities in collaboration with the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) to "develop procedural guidelines for sharing space-based information during emergency response", held last April in Indonesia. Furthermore, the UN-SPIDER Knowledge Portal continues to assist non-specialists in space applications to access and understand solutions they need as disaster managers.

UN-SPIDER depends largely on contributions from the governments of Austria, China and Germany. The expectations on the programme to support UNISPACE+50 do imply its strengthening through partnerships, but also through substantial new sources of funding.

D. UNOOSA Space Law Workshop 2016

The 10th United Nations Workshop on Space Law on "The Contribution of Space Law and Policy to Space Governance and Space Security in the 21st Century" was held from 5 to 8 September 2016 here at the Vienna International Centre. The workshop was organized by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs in cooperation with the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) and co-sponsored by the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) and the Secure World Foundation. The Space Law Workshop was structured in an unprecedented format and included, in line with General Assembly resolution 70/82, capacity-building and outreach activities on transparency and confidence-building measures within the context of the long-term sustainability of outer space activities.

The workshop resulted in a set of conclusions, observations and recommendations that will be part of the official report of the workshop. Among those conclusions, the Workshop observed that the half day panel discussion proposed to be held jointly by the First Committee and the Fourth Committee in the GA at its 72 nd session in 2017, should be organized with the firm aspiration of promoting an interactive dialogue on challenges to space safety, security and sustainability. The workshop also noted that the event should not constitute a regular general debate of the General Assembly, in view of the need for a new way of encouraging the attention of Member States to those matters. The joint panel discussion is intended to constitute a contribution of the First and Fourth Committees to the 50 th anniversary of the Outer Space Treaty in 2017. In this regard please observe operative paragraph 15 of this year's draft resolution on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, to which I referred earlier in my statement.

E. ICAO/UNOOSA Aerospace Symposium in 2017

As a follow up to the two ICAO/UNOOSA Aerospace Symposia held in Canada in March 2015 and in the United Arab Emirates in March 2016, the third Symposium will be held in Vienna in the first half of 2017. The tentative dates have been set for 18-21 April 2017 here at the Vienna International Centre. The Symposium will complete the series of Aerospace Symposia, a unique coordination effort by two central United Nations entities, aimed at strengthening the dialogue among stakeholders in the air and space transportation communities and between the relevant legal and regulatory actors. A concept note, draft programme and registration platform is now being set up through the ICAO and UNOOSA websites, respectively. The same announcement, registration, and outreach procedures used for the previous events in Montreal and in Abu Dhabi will apply for the third event here in Vienna next April.

F. Multi-Donor Strategic Preparatory Initiative

The Multi Donor Strategic Preparatory Initiative seeks to provide flexible, coordinated and predictable funding to support the actions of UNOOSA. The Multi-Donor Strategic Preparatory Initiative allows UNOOSA to prepare, structure, and implement activities in the promotion of space-based applications and technologies for innovative and timely actions under the guiding principles of:

  • Integrating space capabilities into national development programmes;
  • Capitalizing on space technology-derived solutions;
  • Advocating use of and universal access to space-derived geospatial data; and
  • Leveraging and forging partnerships.


The initiative has attracted a few donors in 2016, including for supporting UNISPACE+50 preparations. However, this remains significantly below the needs of the Office to properly develop the activities required and to implement its outreach plans. I invite you to consider closely how your country can contribute to our shared goals through the Multi-Donor Strategic Preparatory Initiative. We see it as a simple and effective way to work together.

G. Outreach

The key outreach activity for UNOOSA in the coming months is our participation in the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Guadalajara, Mexico, from 26 to 30 September. The IAC is expected to draw around 4,000 people from around the world, from space agencies, international and regional organizations, and the private sector.

I and UNOOSA staff will present a number of technical papers. UNOOSA will host a Global Networking Forum Panel on UNISPACE+50 and the future of space. I will also be speaking at two other Global Networking Fora - one on strengthened international space cooperation for global health and one on space technology for emerging countries in Latin America and the Caribbean - as well as at a breakfast on women in space, introducing the Space for Women project I mentioned earlier. The 25 th UN/International Astronautical Federation Workshop on space technology for socio-economic benefits will also take place in the three days preceding the IAC.

For the first time UNOOSA will have a booth at the IAC exhibition to raise awareness of the Office and our work. Some outreach activities are planned at our booth, including a joint briefing with JAXA on the first round of KiboCUBE, plus a joint event with Sierra Nevada Corporation. The exhibit is open to the public on the final morning. Of course we'll be very active on social media, so I encourage you to keep an eye on the UNOOSA social media accounts to see what we are up to at IAC.

Following IAC is the annual World Space Week from 4 to 10 October. As part of the celebrations, on 5 October we will hold a press conference here at the VIC with the NGO Paz y Cooperación to announce a year-long space-themed children's art competition.

As mentioned earlier, the end of World Space Week on 10 October will see us in New York for a Discovery Day event with UNDP and DigitalGlobe. Another important event, on the same day, will be the launch of a catalogue of images from the UNOOSA-ESA exhibition held at UNHQ last year: "My Planet From Space: Fragility and Beauty". Like the exhibition, the catalogue will demonstrate how fragile the environment of our planet is and how satellite technology can be used for climate change adaptation and mitigation. We intend to distribute a copy of the catalogue to each delegation at the Fourth Committee of the General Assembly on 11 October. We invite delegations to attend the launch event too.

The HLF in Dubai in November will be a major event for us and we plan to use it as an outreach activity as well by facilitating the attendance of media.

Next year UNOOSA will again produce an Annual Report to inform both Member States as well as the general public of our activities. Like this year, Member States will receive a copy at the 60th session of COPUOS in June 2017, and it will be made available online.

Lastly, we have started to consider public outreach activities in the lead up to and during UNISPACE+50 in June 2018 to raise awareness of UNOOSA, COPUOS and the future of space, although financial resourcing for this is problematic for us based on current funds available.

* *** *

Distinguished Representatives,

Regular briefings before each of the sessions in 2017 will be held as usual, providing you with detailed information on the preparations for each of the sessions. Also, Niklas Hedman and Luc St-Pierre are available in case you need additional information on the Programme on Space Applications, space law and policy, UN-SPIDER and COPUOS related issues.

Before concluding my briefing, I would like to state that it is a real pleasure for me to be here today, engaging in an mutually beneficial endeavour with you as we together progress on our common path towards UNISPACE+50 and in meeting our global goal to promote the development of international cooperation and space law and policy, and to harness the benefits of space science, technology and applications for all countries.

Thank you.




The UNISPACE+50 thematic priorities:

1. Global partnership in space exploration and innovation

This thematic priority aims to raise awareness of space exploration and innovation as essential drivers for opening up new domains in space science and technology and to trigger new partnerships and develop capabilities that create new opportunities for addressing global challenges. Furthermore, this thematic priority aims to foster dialogue with space industry and the private sector.

2. Legal regime of outer space and global space governance: current and future perspectives

With this thematic priority we strive to promote the universality of the five United Nations treaties on outer space and assess the state of affairs of those treaties and their relationship with other relevant international instruments, such as principles, resolutions and guidelines governing space activities. The thematic priority additionally aims to analyze the effectiveness of the legal regime of outer space in the twenty-first century, with a view to identifying areas for further consideration.

3. Enhanced information exchange on space objects and events

This thematic priority's goal is to define and develop requirements for enhanced information exchange and notification procedures under the United Nations Register of Objects Launched into Outer Space and within the notification mechanisms established under the treaties and principles on outer space. Furthermore, cooperation mechanisms to support this objective should be identified and capacity-building and outreach activities on transparency and confidence-building measures encouraged.

4. International framework for space weather services

The aim of this thematic priority is to strengthen the reliability of space systems and their ability to respond to the impact of adverse space weather and to develop a space weather road map for international coordination and information exchange on space weather events and their mitigation. Space weather is recognized as a global challenge and increasing awareness of this issue will help to identify governance and cooperation mechanisms.

5. Strengthened space cooperation for global health

This thematic priority strives to improve the use of space technologies and space-based information and systems in the global health domain with the objective of promoting enhanced cooperation and sharing of information in emergencies, epidemics and early warning events, as well as on environmental parameters.

6. International cooperation towards low-emission and resilient societies

This thematic priority will define synergies between climate change mitigation efforts, disaster risk reduction and global development, and develop a road map for enhanced resiliency of space-based systems and the affiliation of existing and future Earth observation, global navigation satellite systems and telecommunication constellations for disaster risk reduction and climate change monitoring and mitigation.

7. Capacity-building for the twenty-first century

This thematic priority aims to define new innovative and effective approaches to overall capacity-building and development needs as a fundamental pillar of global space governance.

1 A/70/20, para. 351

2 A/AC.105/2016/CRP.4

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