It has been a bit quiet around our initiative. However, that does not mean that we stopped doing what we do. In the past months, we were quite active with networking, organising and speaking at events, and laying the foundation to our initiative. Doing this next to the study turned out to be more difficult than anticipated which led to fewer updates on our website.
But before diving into everything that has been done so far, we promised you to give you updates regarding our UN75 Dialogue which was held in May. Underneath, you can find a summary of the most important aspects that were brought up below.
The Sustainable Development Goals highlight our responsibility as humans towards a sustainable planet. However, these global goals seem to understand planet Earth as an isolated entity and forget our dependence on and responsibility towards the system we are a part of. As public and private interest in the quest for exploration and use of outer space increases, this issue should be addressed right now.
Lack of awareness and knowledge are big factors that can hinder development. By spreading the word and making people aware of certain issues, they are more likely to accept and embrace change for a better future. Our orbit is not infinite and space debris poses a big threat to this environment. We put amazing technological advancements into space, but half of them are not even functioning. Even tiny pieces of the debris can cause a lot of damage to our delicate satellites and the International Space Station. The protection of outer space is crucial for activities that go beyond what one might first think of. It is important for policies and sectors that support socio-economic development, public safety and public health, showing that we cannot reach the first 17 SDGs without harnessing space properly. Unfortunately, not a lot of people know this. We want to explain to you how by raising awareness and knowledge we plan on creating societal value for all.
Firstly, both the general public and decision-makers will have to understand that space activities bring along a lot of benefits. Right now public support for space activities is not that strong, and that is strongly connected to this lack of knowledge and awareness. The public needs to be educated about how important space is. UN involvement and space as a more prominent aspect on the global agenda does not just help achieve all the SDGs, but it helps us generate public support which politicians need in order to put money towards responsible space activities. Governments need to have the political will to explore space and spend money on this, and this will only be created once the general public advocates for it. An example of this could be seen in developing countries. Developing countries have other agenda points they want to spend their money on, because there is no understanding at a public level that if you have a satellite in space, you are, for example, able to support agricultural activities. This means benefits can only be enjoyed through more knowledge and awareness.
Secondly, communities are often unaware that the whole world has access to a lot of free space tools and data. This open-access is very important since, as previously discussed, the usage of space can be very beneficial to society. The awareness that this exists needs to be given to everyone.
Thirdly, not only are communities often unaware that free tools and data exist, they also do not have the knowledge about how to use them properly. The benefits of space should be brought to all, and capacity building has an important role to play. With this know-how, communities are empowered to reap the benefits from space activities.
This is just a short explanation, but it does illustrate how important it is that we do not see outer space as this foreign environment far away, but something that we are actually a part of. Therefore, SDG targets for the orbital environment need to be set up. The UN is unlikely to recognize a new goal five years into the current agenda, but the post-2030 agenda is not guaranteed yet. We cannot wait for the recognition of space as its own unique environment. But a goal without targets or a deadline will fail. Our next step will be drafting rough, preliminary space SDG outcomes and process targets. A couple of weeks ago, one of our contacts, Nick Barracca, gave this a shot and wrote an article in which he explained this. You can find a link to his article here. Nick allowed us to work with these indicators and that is what we are currently doing.
At this moment we are trying to recieve feedback regarding the indicators, so that we are able to polish and finalise them. Having a set of indicators gives us a clearer view on what we have to focus.
This will be all for this post. If you are interested in knowing what we did in the past months, continue reading in the next post. Until then, we hope you are all safe!