Briefing for Permanent Missions at the United Nations Office in Vienna

22 January 2018

Vienna, Austria


Distinguished Representatives of Permanent Missions,
It is my great pleasure to welcome you at my first briefing for Permanent Missions in Vienna in the New Year 2018. This briefing contains a lot of information and a copy is available for you at the back of the room.

We are ahead of one of the busiest and challenging sessions cycle of the Committee and its Subcommittees, as we are approaching UNISPACE+50 in June 2018. Preparations for the UNISPACE+50 are heading into the homestretch. Delegations will see before them a record number of documents prepared for this session. In addition to recurrent parliamentary documentation, those documents feature reports on flagship events, seven reports on UNISPACE+50 thematic priorities, one report for each of them, as well as the report of the High Level Forum held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in November 2017.

In that regard, I wish to underline again the uniqueness of the UNISPACE+50 process leading up to the High-level segment on 20-21 June 2018, since most of the work has been done in the preparatory period 2015-2017 and within the existing resources. I am therefore pleased to see that as much as the 50th anniversary of the first UNISPACE conference sounds as a commemorative event, the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space as well as the Office for Outer Space Affairs have seized this opportunity to further the role of space for the betterment of lives of the people and your respective countries on the way towards attaining the Sustainable Development Goals.

Distinguished Representatives,
As you have been informed in the Note verbale, dated 4 September 2017, UNISPACE+50 is aimed to strengthen the role of space as a driver of development, and therefore to conclude, in presence of all United Nations Member States on 20-21 June 2018 in Vienna, with concrete outcomes and deliverables, as contained in a dedicated General Assembly resolution, available as a draft in all United Nations official languages already. Outcomes and deliverables spelled out in the above mentioned draft GA resolution are derived and can be found with more information in the document entitled "Space2030" agenda and the global governance of outer space activities, available for the time being in its advanced edited version. The draft resolution, to be recommended at the High-level segment in June, will then be presented at the 73rd session of the General Assembly in plenary meetings under agenda item "Space as a driver of sustainable development", as agreed by COPUOS in June 2017 and as endorsed by the General Assembly in its resolution 72/79 of 7 December 2017.

The focus of my briefing today is to go more into detail on those expected outcomes, that is on the "Space2030" agenda and its implementation plan.
I also wish to inform you that I held a similar briefing for Permanent Missions at the UN Headquarters in New York last week, jointly organized with the Permanent Missions of Austria and Zambia, which was very well received and useful, considering we are now all in the process of jointly paving the way towards strategic objectives of the "Space2030" agenda. The corresponding resolution will be negotiated starting from this session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee.

Distinguished Representatives,
I would also like to express again, here in Vienna, my sincere thanks to the Permanent Representatives of Austria and Zambia in New York for another very much appreciated initiative, that is, the establishment of the Group of friends of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs. I would like to stress that this initiative really comes in best of times, when the Office works together with all of you, the Member States and all relevant stakeholders towards mainstreaming the use of space as a driver of development. I hope therefore that the Group of friends of UNOOSA will allow all of us to join forces and work collectively in making "space" an integral part of the global agenda.
Distinguished Representatives,

Let me now focus on the "Space2030' agenda and its implementation.
The "Space2030" agenda, as contained in document A/AC.105/1166, which is available on our webpage as an advanced edited version and will be available in all official UN languages for the upcoming session of the Subcommittee, contains actions and strategic objectives under the four cross-cutting pillars:
-    the Space economy pillar with the strategic objective to further develop space-derived economic benefits;
-    the Space society pillar with the objective to advance the societal benefits of space-related activities;
-    the Space accessibility with the overarching objective of access to space for all; and
-    the Space diplomacy pillar with strategic objective to build partnerships and strengthen international cooperation and the governance of space activities.

With this approach and structure, it will be easier for all stakeholders to address their interests and their future involvement in space activities on the basis of the 'WHY' we consider outer space as a driver of development, and not only of 'WHAT' we do and 'HOW' we, collectively, proceed with work pertaining to outer space activities.

Let me underline that these objectives and corresponding actions contained in the implementation plan of the "Space2030" agenda are a result of work based on the UNISPACE+50 thematic priorities and inputs from all related flagships events and activities held in the preparatory work in 2015-2017. Let me underline once again that the recommendations you find included in the "Space2030" agenda and therefore, in a summarized form, in the draft resolution are the recommendations, which have been agreed by the various mechanisms tasked by COPUOS to work on the UNISPACE+50 thematic priorities. Anything that was not captured in the final reports (considering also the reports of the flagship events and the HLF report) is not captured in the "Space2030" agenda and in the draft resolution.

At the same time, I wish to stress that the "Space2030" agenda coincides and aligns with the United Nations system-wide efforts by the Secretary-General to reposition the UN development system to deliver on the 2030 Agenda within the context of his overall reform agenda, in which he calls for a greater collaboration across the pillars of peace, security, development and human rights and for reduced silos and fragmentation in order to generate improved policies and products and to further engage with Member States with a view to strengthening the work of the United Nations in that regard.

The "Space2030" agenda is in line with these efforts because it considers common issues and concerns relating to outer space activities putting together the areas of global governance of outer space activities, space science, technology, policy and law, thus following a unique, holistic and comprehensive approach to the future of space and its role in sustainable development.

In strengthening the global governance of outer space activities in the twenty-first century, the 'Space2030' agenda puts in focus recommendations to strengthen the Committee's unique position as the primary intergovernamental platform for international space cooperation and the negotiations of instruments pertaining to space activities, and work towards further increasing its membership; to further promote the role of COPUOS as the main centre for space-related international coordination and cooperation mechanisms, to ensure better information flow with Member States; promote the universality of the UN treaties on outer space; to restructure the Committee's agenda in order to address, in a comprehensive manner, the use and utility of space as a driver for sustainable development and the issues of safety, security and sustainability of outer space activities, including the exchange of information on space objects and events, in-orbit collisions and interferences, space operations and space traffic management; and to strengthen coordination between the three intergovernamental platforms, namely, the Scientific and Technical subcommittee, the Legal Subcommittee and COPUOS to enable agenda items to be addressed in a comprehensive, cross-cutting manner combining scientific, technical, legal, policy and decision-making dimensions.

Furthermore, the "Space2030" agenda outlines under each pillar of space economy, space society, space accessibility and space diplomacy further proposals for mainstreaming space activities, the role of the Committee and our joint work for the future. So allow me, distinguished representatives, to briefly guide you through the proposed recommendations:

Space economy
Under the space economy pillar and as one of the core elements of the "Space2030" agenda that supports countries, in particular developing countries, in attaining the Sustainable Development Goals, is the establishment by the Office for Outer Space Affairs of the global space partnership for the Sustainable Development Goals. This partnership is envisioned as an essential and comprehensive coordination mechanism, led by the Office, to facilitate the optimal delivery of existing space assets and cooperation to address the user needs, that is, the needs of Member States.

The objective of the partnership is to establish a direct link between space and the Sustainable Development Goals through one authoritative office (the Office for Outer Space Affairs), which also serves as the gateway to space in the United Nations. Through the partnership, the Office would act as a "one-stop-shop", coordinating multiple providers of space-derived data, information, services and products.

The global space partnership will integrate space-based data and infrastructure on a global scale, including global navigation satellite systems and satellite telecommunications, and ground-based data, thus offering a unique opportunity to humankind to address more efficiently the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals, in particular SDG 17, since it is envisioned as a voluntary partnership undertaken by Governments, intergovernmental organizations and other relevant stakeholders. Countries are the beneficiaries of the objectives of the proposed partnership, and the progressive increase in their access to space and use of space assets is the key indicator of the success of the partnership.

In order to address the involvement of industry and private sector to better deliver on the "Space2030" agenda, including the partnership, the global compact for space is to be established as the main mechanism for collaboration between the Office for Outer Space Affairs and those entities. This will be done on the basis of the experience and lesson learned of the UN Global Compact. Furthermore, a global space fund for development is proposed, following examples of existing United Nations funding mechanisms, to support the coordination and implementation of activities of the global space partnership for the Sustainable Development Goals.

Space society
Several important initiatives are proposed as the way forward under Space society pillar, which include actions on Space for global health, including strengthening institutional arrangements between the Office and the World Health Organization for effective collaboration on the wider application of space solutions for global health and a new agenda item on this matter to be discussed in the framework of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee; Space for low-emission and resilient societies, including strengthening the implementation of the United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER) of the Office, in order to assist it in fully delivering its mandate to provide access to space-based data and services for disaster risk reduction and emergency response, including in relation to the impacts of climate change.

Here I also wish to underline the proposal advanced by the Government of France for a Space Climate Observatory as a critical mechanism towards low-emission and resilient societies, which is envisioned in the Paris Declaration of 11 December 2017, signed by a number of space agencies. The Space Climate Observatory is an important contribution to the "Space2030" agenda and as part of the global space partnership for the Sustainable Development Goals.
Other initiatives under the space society pillar include Space for human security and the strengthening of the on-going work in the area of an international response to the near-Earth object impact threat; the International framework for space weather services to better address space weather as a global challenge and the vulnerability of society as a whole to the impact of adverse space weather.

The Space for Women initiative is another proposed action, in line with the mandate of the Office to define new and innovative approaches to capacity-building with a special focus on the empowerment of women in developing countries, in particular by strengthening the possibility of their participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.

I would also like to single out the Open Universe initiative, as proposed by the Government of Italy, aimed at facilitating open and transparent access to astronomy and space science data, with a view to ensuring that all people can utilize and learn from such invaluable sources of information for the benefit of humankind.

Space accessibility
Let me underline here some of the key initiatives which fall under the space accessibility pillar.
The "Access to space" initiative aims to broaden access to space to bridge the space divide. The scope of the "Access to space" initiative is twofold: physical access to space, and access to space-based data and infrastructure.
The initiative also builds upon the Office's current spaceflight portfolio as part of its Human Space Technology Initiative, and includes a wide range of opportunities made available to developing countries for launch, ground and in-orbit space experiments on, inter alia, drop towers, space stations and low-orbit free-flying vehicles, and through the design, manufacture and operation of small satellites.

Among the actions under this pillar, the proposal is to develop results-based management approach to capacity-building, based on country-specific needs, assessed through two key instruments that have been developed by the Office for Outer Space Affairs: the space for development profile and the space solutions compendium, which will enable the provision of capacity-building strategies for Member States on a long-term basis. The use of these two tools should be accompanied by a triangular cooperation, in which the Office channels the assistance of an interested party to create and/or develop capabilities in a developing country, thus reducing the space divide, enabling capacity-building on a long-term basis and considerably increasing the benefits of cooperation for all parties, in particular developing countries.

A number of further actions are proposed in support of the "Access to space" initiative, including strengthening the activities of the regional centres for space science and technology education, affiliated to the United Nations, and establishing an alliance of regional centres. A new Regional Center has been proposed by the Russian Federation under the leadership of the Roscosmos Academy serving the Russian speaking countries. Member States are encouraged to support the establishment of new regional centres, to extend the reach of those centres to all regions.

Furthermore, a capacity-building network should be established for all entities, in particular universities, museums, other institutions and non-governmental organizations and governmental bodies, to provide research opportunities and hands-on training programmes. In order to reach out to more people in developing countries optimizing the use of the current resources available, the Office, as recommended, plans to develop a training center in Vienna with the aim of using new digital technologies to approach capacity-building more in line with the current times. This is not supposed to replace the capacity-building workshops and training courses, which have been so well conducted by the Office in the last decades, but it will be an important complement to allow a broader possibility for developing countries to get access to expertise available in the Office and through its network of experts. Still in the context of the capacity-building network, the creation of the "Universal Space Heritage Sites Programme" has been recommended specifically focused on sites in outer space, including sites of special relevance on the Moon and other celestial bodies.

Space diplomacy
Under space diplomacy pillar, a number of recommendations have been proposed that will strengthen the work of the Committee and its Subcommittees, and the Office for Outer Space Affairs. The focus is on enhancing global governance of outer space activities in the twenty-first century, with main focus on strengthening the unique role of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its subcommittees, supported by the Office for Outer Space Affairs, as the prime intergovernmental platform for international space cooperation and the negotiation of instruments pertaining to space activities.

The goal is to continue to work towards further increasing the membership of the Committee, which at present has 87 member States and a large number of permanent observers.

Several new agenda items are proposed to be discussed at the level of the Committee and its Subcommittees, including on "space and global health", "space exploration and innovation" as well as consideration of critical space infrastructure at the international level, including cybersecurity issues related to space activities.

In view of strengthening the space diplomacy pillar, let me also stress an important recommendation to promote the universality of the United Nations treaties on outer space. In that regard, it is recommended that the Office for Outer Space Affairs enhances its capacity-building activities and technical assistance in the field of international space law, policy and space-related institutional capacity-building, including for policymakers and decision makers and by engaging the diplomatic community.

Another important recommendation pertains to enhancing the role of the United Nations Register of Objects Launched into Outer Space, entrusted to the Office for Outer Space Affairs, by implementing improvements to existing registration practices and information exchange on the basis of existing mandates, including measures taken by the Office to increase transparency and improve the efficiency of the registration mechanism and conduct regular technical advisory missions to promote transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities.

If we are to deliver as one, it is also important to further strengthen cooperation with the United Nations entities dealing with space, in line with the United Nations system-wide efforts to increase coherence so that the Office can expand partnerships under the overall framework of the Inter-Agency Meeting on Outer Space Activities (UN-Space) and through bilateral cooperation, with other United Nations entities in a wide range of space-related areas under their respective mandates.

Another important avenue in space diplomacy is represented by increased focused on partnerships and working with all relevant stakeholders. As mentioned several times, partnerships are at the core of the "Space2030" agenda, strongly in line with the SDG 17, partnership for the goals. It is recommended to strengthen existing partnerships of the Office for Outer Space Affairs and create new ones as endorsed by the Committee at its sixtieth session (see A/72/20, para. 326).  

The Secretary-General, in his report entitled "Enhanced cooperation between the United Nations and all relevant partners, in particular the private sector" (A/72/310 of 10 August 2017) stresses: "To unlock the full potential of partnerships, in particular business partnerships, a number of priorities to strengthen accountability and transparency, enhance coherence and capability and advance system-wide collaboration are recommended". As one of the important measures in this regard, UNOOSA has launched a new web page dedicated to the partnerships with industry and the private sector (
Further, UNOOSA has developed a strategic document, based on the United Nations documents, frameworks and practices, establishing a vision and guidance for the partnerships with UNOOSA. The document is entitled "Strategy and Policy on Partnerships with Industry and the Private Sector and Guidelines for Implementation", and is available on the above-referenced web page.

Of importance for building partnerships is also the High-level Forum: Space as a Driver for Socioeconomic Sustainable Development. Following a series of high-level forums held in preparation for UNISPACE+50, it is recommended that this High-level Forum continue to be convened annually from 2018 onwards. The next High-level Forum is planned to take place 13-16 November 2018, organized by UNOOSA and the Government of Germany in Bonn, Germany, at the UN Bonn Campus.

Last but not least, space diplomacy is all about engagement and regular contact. In that regard, it is recommended for the Office to strengthen its presence in New York and Geneva so that we can create more synergy in the space-related work of the United Nations system and support enhanced delivery and services of the United Nations in meeting the needs of Member States more efficiently. This is also the spirit of the Group of Friends of UNOOSA in New York, as I mentioned before, and their strong interest to see UNOOSA more present in New York.

Distinguished Representatives,
Let me stress that the "Space2030" agenda - which is, as I mentioned already, a comprehensive and long-term vision for space -, is dependent on your support. Several countries and other partners have already stepped forward to work with the Office for Outer Space Affairs on several initiatives elaborated under the four pillars of the "Space2030" agenda, to name a few: the Government of Italy is partnering with the Office on the Open Universe initiative that will benefit global citizens opening space science and research data bases; the Space Climate Observatory, proposed by France and supported through a declaration signed by several space agencies is to better tackle climate change and consequently contribute to building more resilient societies. These are just a few examples and the Office stands ready to discuss further interest in joint projects, as we move forward.

The overall implementation plan of the "Space2030" agenda, as summarized in the draft General Assembly resolution, will also impact the mandates of the Office to enhance its programmatic and global reach. It may well mean the Office's structural and administrative set-up will have to be addressed, including its human and financial resources which will have to be increased both from the regular budget and through voluntary cash and in-kind contributions.
It is in this regard that I am pleased to inform you that I have invited the Chief of the United Nations Programme, Planning and Budget Division (PPBD), Jan Huisman, who will present at this STSC session further information to member States regarding the budgetary issues on the first day of the session, Monday 29 January.

Distinguished Representatives,
I wish to underline that with UNISPACE+50, the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and Member States, supported by the Office for Outer Space Affairs, have a historic opportunity to work together towards strengthening the role of space as a driver of development.
The actions established under the "Space2030" agenda are aimed at achieving measurable targets through the global engagement of Member States. Important goals would be:
- to see a steady increase in membership of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and to reach 120 States by 2030;
- to ensure that all States are invited to and have a chance to participate in at least one training course/capacity-building activity of the Office for Outer Space Affairs; and
- to achieve the balanced participation of women and men in those activities to ensure gender parity by 2025, in comparison with the current figure of 38 per cent women to 62 per cent men. The latter indicator is also very important to me personally as I also serve as the International Gender Champion as part of the International Gender Champions Initiative.

Distinguished Representatives,
UNISPACE+50 summit on 20-21 June provides this unique opportunity to move forward with the space agenda and strengthen the governance of outer space activities, in particular the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its unique role as the prime intergovernmental body for international cooperation in outer space activities and negotiations pertaining to the exploration and peaceful uses of outer space. This is also closely related to the work of the Office for Outer Space Affairs, also in its capacity as the Secretariat to the Committee, to be positioned in the system to be able to perform its existing mandates, serving better the Committee and Member States as well as being able to respond to new challenges in space arena by becoming more fit for purpose.

I would therefore like to invite you all, as our key stakeholders, to take a constructive role in this upcoming UNISPACE+50 cycle of sessions of the Committee and the Subcommittees as well as in the intersessional meeting, 7-11 May, when we expect to finalize negotiations on the draft UNISPACE+50 General Assembly resolution.

I would also like to emphasize that the Office for Outer Space Affairs would appreciate to have Permanent Missions indicating at your earliest convenience the representation at the UNISPACE+50 global UN space summit, 20-21 June, which, as recommended by the Committee can be at the level of Head of State or Government, the ministerial level or at the otherwise highest possible level.

Further information on the exhibit and the outreach events on 18-19 June 2018 are available as a handout at the back of the room.
In concluding, let me reiterate a few key concepts in the process:
1)    The recommendations you find included in the "Space2030" agenda and therefore, in a summarized form, in the draft GA resolution are the recommendations, which have been agreed by the various mechanisms tasked by COPUOS to work on the UNISPACE+50 thematic priorities. Anything that was not captured in the final reports (considering also the reports of the flagship events and the HLF report) is not captured neither in the "Space2030" agenda nor in the draft resolution.
2)    The only document to be negotiated is therefore the draft General Assembly resolution.
3)    The process towards the UNISPACE+50 high-level segment, on 20-21 June 2018, - the first UN global space summit of the 21st century - and at the Summit itself, will follow in accordance with the Rules of Procedure of the General Assembly, in particular, and also relevant to potential financial impacts, with the Rule 153, which reads as follows: No resolution involving expenditure shall be recommended by a committee for approval by the General Assembly unless it is accompanied by an estimate of expenditures prepared by the Secretary-General. No resolution in respect of which expenditures are anticipated by the Secretary-General shall be voted by the General Assembly until the Administrative and Budgetary Committee (Fifth Committee) has had an opportunity of stating the effect of the proposal upon the budget estimates of the United Nations.
4)    The draft resolution, as recommended at the Summit and discussed and hopefully approved in the GA plenary at the end of October 2018, will only be approved by the GA after the Fifth Committee pronounces itself on the potential budget implications. As mentioned already, all the procedures and responsibilities on budget related procedures lie in the hands of the Secretary-General and therefore I would like to stress the importance for all member States to be present at the time of the briefing of the Chief of the UN Programme, Planning and Budget Division (PPBD) on 29 January 2018.

Distinguished Representatives,
With that I thank you very much for your attention and remain at your disposal for any questions you may have.
Thank you.

Copyright ©2023 UNOOSA, All Rights Reserved