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OPENING STATEMENT BY SIMONETTA DI PIPPO
UNISPACE+50 High-Level Segment
20 June 2018, M-Building, Plenary Hall
Your Excellency, Guest of Honour, President Van der Bellen, Madam Chairperson and members of the Bureaux, Director-General, distinguished representatives of Member States and space community, dear guests,
As the Director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, I warmly welcome you to the UNISPACE+50 high-level segment, which indeed can be considered as the first United Nations global space summit of the 21st century.
Allow me first to express my sincere thanks to His Excellency, President Van der Bellen for opening the UNISPACE+50 high-level segment and for his visionary words on empowering the use of space for the benefit of all humankind.
I would also like to thank UNOV Director-General, Yury Fedotov, for his support extended to the Office for Outer Space Affairs and to the UNISPACE+50 as a milestone opportunity to put "space matters" more visibly on the global agenda, by strengthening the role of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses on Outer Space, supported by the Office, as unique platforms for international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.
As the Secretary-General has pointed out in his video message, since the early years of the space age, space has united us towards common goals.
Space has been an area of inspiration, innovation, interconnectedness, integration and investment.
It is therefore my great honour and privilege to be able to lead the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs that has a unique mandate to deal with the full spectrum of space activities, including science, technology, policy and law, and as such a strategic position in the United Nations as a gateway to space.
Fifty years ago, when the first United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE I) was held, it has already become evident that the rapid growth of space technology and its potential for applications to benefit development on Earth, call for a wider dissemination of knowledge and the achievements of space science and technology, as well as for the promotion of its practical applications - which were all issues in focus of UNISPACE I, held in 1968 in Vienna.
The Office for Outer Space Affairs, which was initially set up in New York in 1958 as a small unit to support deliberations of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, has in the 60 years of its existence exercised a unique and broad mandate to deal with the full spectrum of space activities, including science, technology, policy and law.
The Office discharges mandates on behalf of the Secretary-General pertaining to the United Nations treaties and principles on outer space, in particular the Office is entrusted with maintaining the United Nations Register on Objects launched into Outer Space as the only treaty-based transparency and confidence-building instrument that contains information on such objects since 1957. All in all, our main goal is to bring the benefits of space to humankind.
It is therefore an important opportunity for me to be able to address you here at this critical point in time for the Office for Outer Space Affairs and the international community at this United Nations space summit as we move forward in advancing the global space agenda.
We have to use this milestone opportunity to align our work and that of the Committee with the current challenges in the space arena, making us fit for purpose and responsive to new realities in the space sector, which is witnessing a process of ever-growing number of actors, their diversification as well as diversification of the space activities.
UNISPACE+50 is indeed a unique event since most of the work has been done in the preparatory period 2015-2017, when the Committee launched this process to enable the high-level segment to have before it for endorsement concrete outcomes, as negotiated by Member States and contained in the UNISPACE+50 draft resolution entitled "Fiftieth anniversary of the first United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space: space as a driver of sustainable development" (document A/AC.105/L.313).
In this joint undertaking, we have an important opportunity to further demonstrate the broad societal benefits of space and to strengthen unified efforts at all levels and among all relevant stakeholders of the space sector in addressing the overarching long-term development concerns of society.
This is particularly important at times, when the international community has committed to the goals and major targets of the global frameworks adopted by the international community in 2015, namely, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 and the Paris Agreement that require stronger space governance and supporting structures at all levels, including improved space-based data and space infrastructure.
Space tools are highly relevant for the attainment of all 17 Sustainable Development Goals and their respective targets, either directly, as enablers and drivers for sustainable development, or indirectly, as an integral part of the indicators for monitoring the progress towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The vision and actions contained in the agreed text of the UNISPACE+50 draft resolution to continue to develop the "Space2030" agenda and its implementation plan will set the course for strengthening the contribution of space activities and space tools to achieving internationally agreed development goals.
Concrete measures in developing the "Space2030" agenda will enable us, the Office for Outer Space Affairs, as part of the United Nations Secretariat, to better deliver our mandates to assist States in using space for sustainable development, to strengthen our role in disaster management and emergency response operations, to reinforce our capacity-building, outreach and awareness-raising efforts, including integrated legal and technical assistance, and to boost our efforts to increase engagement in activities that support developing countries in gaining broad access to space.
UNISPACE+50 is a challenging joint task and innovative avenue within the United Nations system. Its strategic, procedural and administrative foundation is unique because the very essence of this endeavour is to make considerable substantive progress at the global level, enhancing the cooperation and coordination of three inter-governmental platforms, namely the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee, the Legal Subcommittee, and the main Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.
With that, UNISPACE+50 combines and merges space science, technology, policy and law, thus following a unique cross-sectorial approach.
The rich programme and broad engagement of all major stakeholders in space arena over the past two days, 18-19 June, in numerous panels and symposia clearly demonstrate that there is a need to enhance the immense potential of "space" for development. Space is a vital part of the so-called "new frontier" issues that the UN Secretary-General is bringing forward in his system-wide efforts to engage with Member States to strengthen the work of the United Nations, overcome silos and deliver as one, and in setting these priorities, a strong link with the development of the "Space2030" agenda is obvious.
When the Office for Outer Space Affairs in 2015 launched a series of annual High-level Forums on space for socioeconomic sustainable development, this was primarily our goal - to engage and work with all relevant stakeholders in addressing overarching, long-term development concerns and define concrete deliverables pertaining to space for development.
The unique Space exhibition in the Rotunda of the Vienna International centre with more than 40 exhibitors provides not only a valuable reflection on more than 50 years of achievement in space exploration, it primarily exemplifies the enormous potential space has in the betterment of human lives.
We, the Office for Outer Space Affairs, remain strongly committed to working with you all in furthering the potential of space for the benefit of all humankind and count on your support in these processes, in particular since we are trying to deliver more with less under the constraints of limited human and financial resources.
I remain thankful to the newly established Group of friends of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs at the United Nations Headquarters in New York that will further allow all of us to join forces and work collectively in making "space" an integral part of the global agenda to benefit the people and the planet.
Your Excellency, President Van der Bellen, distinguished representatives of Member States and space community, dear guests,
In this ceremonial spirit of cooperation, allow me to announce two unique space events: the donation of the United Nations SDGs flag that was flown aboard the International Space Station by Astronaut Paolo Nespoli, and the unveiling of the special set of stamps issued by the United Nations Postal Administration on the occasion of UNISPACE+50 by the United Nations Champion of Space, Scott Kelly.
In concluding, we have a unique opportunity at UNISPACE+50, here and now, in our joint endeavour and shared responsibility to move the boundaries of space cooperation even further for the benefit of all humankind, and - to paraphrase one of the pioneers in space, Carl Sagan - "to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."
I thank you all for your kind attention.