Data-sharing policies help developing countries benefit from space technology and mitigate the effects of climate change, delegates told the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) today, as it continued its general debate on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.
Ecuador’s delegate, emphasizing the link between access to outer space technology and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, said that universal access to space technology will reduce the impact of climate change. He also recalled that the New Urban Agenda adopted in Quito as part of the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) calls for improved data banks open to participation by all.
Brazil’s representative, also advocating greater access to data for developing countries, said his own country promotes open data-access policies to ensure that space technologies benefit developing States. He reported that a database of images hosted by his country’s National Institute of Space Research is available to all users.
However, Iran’s delegate said that since existing regulations for the allocation of slots on the geostationary orbit are based on a “first come, first served” regime, many orbital slots are occupied by the most developed countries, leaving little chance for developing countries to enter outer space. He went on to stress that a resolution of the space debris question must be based on the principle of “common but differentiated responsibility”, with those States responsible for the debris exclusively responsible for removing it. Noting that small-satellites missions are increasingly important for developing countries, he said they must not be subjected to an ad hoc legal regime that might impose limitations on their development.
Nigeria’s representative noted the impact of climate change on Lake Chad, saying that his country is working with regional and international partners to revitalize the Lake Chad Basin ecosystem and recognizes in that regard the imperative of non-discrimination in data availability. The use of geospatial data for sustainable development has had a positive impact in such fields as agriculture, disaster monitoring and soil degradation, he added.
Other delegates highlighted ways in which space technology plays a vital role in understanding and mitigating the effects of climate change, with El Salvador’s representative expressing his Government’s desire to use space technology to adapt to climate change, particularly in the water and agriculture sectors.
In similar vein, Iraq’s delegate called for improving remote sensing satellite data, including in terms of weather forecasting, and the monitoring of desertification. Iraq also uses high-definition images and other satellite data to tackle pollution affecting the water supply, he added.
Also speaking today were representatives of Canada, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Malaysia, Venezuela, Cameroon, Republic of Korea, United States, United Arab Emirates and Algeria.
The Fourth Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Thursday, 25 October, to continue its discussion on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space. It is also expected to take action on draft resolutions.
Statements
KIMBERLY CHAN (Canada) urged the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space to capitalize on the momentum generated over the last two years and to establish a forward-looking agenda. Highlighting the importance of the engagement and contributions of all relevant States, she noted with appreciation the applications for Committee membership submitted by Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Mauritius and Paraguay. Recalling her country’s history of space exploration and its current partnerships with international space organizations, she said the future success of Canada’s programme will depend on its ability to respond to new space realities and international cooperation. As for the Working Group on the Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities, she described its work as crucial and an exercise in space diplomacy. Member States should look towards national implementation of its consensus guidelines to increase the safety and sustainability of outer space operations, she said.
RUBÉN ARMANDO ESCALANTE HASBÚN (El Salvador) said all countries should have access to the benefits of outer space. Welcoming the convening of UNISPACE+50 and expressing support for the Space 2030 Agenda, he said outer space represents a tool for socioeconomic development in pursuit of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Outer Space Committee’s role must be strengthened to promote international cooperation in that realm, he emphasized. El Salvador is environmentally vulnerable and its Government therefore wishes to make use of space technology to adapt to climate change and mitigate the effects of disasters, particularly in such sectors as water and agriculture, he said. Such technology can also be useful in health and education, he added, reporting that the Government has set up an inter-agency team in that regard.
KHALED MOHAMMED H. ALMANZLAWIY (Saudi Arabia) said his country is using space technology at the national level in several fields. Its technicians have engaged in producing and using satellites. Noting that they have launched 17 satellites into low orbit and will launch others for remote sensing and education, he said that by the end of 2019, the Saudi Telecommunications Satellite will be launched in cooperation with Lockheed Martin. Moreover, the Government has established King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology to increase its participation in space science, studying such matters as water catchments and changes in sand dunes, in order to avoid natural disasters, he said.
SHIORI AMIYA (OKU) (Japan) recalled that in March, her delegation hosted the Second International Space Exploration Forum, which resulted in three outcome documents that form the basis for Governments to engage in dialogue for the promotion of international cooperation and long-term space exploration endeavours. Japan hosted the twelfth meeting of the International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems in Kyoto last December, she said, adding that it owns a navigation satellite system improving GPS availability in urban canyons and mountainous areas. Moreover, Japan is actively engaged in regional cooperation to strengthen the peaceful uses of outer space and assist in developing the space capabilities of emerging actors, she said, noting that her country annually co-hosts the Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum, which supports the furtherance of socioeconomic benefits derived from space.
MOHD AINI ATAN (Malaysia), associating himself with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), expressed support for the adoption of the draft resolution “50th anniversary of the first United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space: space as a driver of sustainable development”. The Outer Space Committee and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs are vital to promoting international cooperation towards realizing the space sector’s potential to benefit humanity, he said, adding that Malaysia has begun to draft national outer space legislation, and looks forward to guidance from Member States in that effort.
HENRY ALFREDO SUÁREZ MORENO (Venezuela) said outer space is the common heritage of all humankind and it should be used in a balanced manner. Exploration must be equitable, without discrimination, in accordance with international law and for peaceful uses only, he emphasized, noting that the Outer Space Committee is one of the only entities addressing that subject. Expressing concern over the possibility of an arms race in space, he urged States to comply with the principle of non-militarization of outer space, highlighting the importance of transparency and confidence-building measures in that regard. It is also worrying that some States use spy satellites to intercept communications, a practice that undermines the principle of State sovereignty, he noted. Turning to the question of space debris, he said it should be removed in a way that does not diminish the capacities of developing countries or impose costs on their growing space programmes.
PAUL BATIBONAK (Cameroon) said there can be no effective development without geospatial navigation, calling upon the international community to leverage the benefits of space technology by making relevant and reliable information available to meet the challenges of climate change. However, the increasing trend towards the militarization of space and the proliferation of space debris pose a threat to the survival of humankind, he cautioned, emphasizing that the international community must examine and reflect upon how to best address such challenges. Calling for stronger cooperation and more developed space law, he said the Outer Space Committee is a platform for discussion and sharing of experiences, commending its work to establish an international legal regime, including five multilateral treaties.
YONG JIN BAEK (Republic of Korea) expressed regret that the Outer Space Committee was not able to reach consensus on a final set of guidelines during its recent meeting. “Outer space should remain safe, secure and sustainable,” he said, emphasizing that the great potential of space science and technology in terms of sustainable development should not be unduly hampered. In February, the Government of the Republic of Korea established the third Masterplan for Space Development and Promotion, demonstrating how space technology can be used to address such global challenges as climate change, disasters and space debris. Highlighting the importance of transparency and confidence-building measures for increasing understanding, he recalled that his delegation participated in the United Nations group of Government experts on such measures.
ALI HILAL ALHADI (Iraq) recalled his country’s participation in UNISPACE+50 and welcomed the Space 2030 Agenda. All countries should be able to benefit from outer space, he said, calling for a common vision for the peaceful use of that realm in terms of implementing the 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals. Space sciences should be geared towards overcoming current and future challenges of socioeconomic development, through applications in disaster management, food security, natural-resource management and other benefits, he emphasized. Welcoming the Outer Space Committee’s report, he called for improving remote sensing satellite data, including in terms of weather forecasting, and the monitoring of desertification. Recalling that Iraq has used such technology to monitor the atmosphere and understand climate change, he said it uses high-definition images and other satellite data to tackle pollution affecting the water supply, adding that it has also used satellite data to confront terrorism.
ALEX GIACOMELLI DA SILVA (Brazil) noted the recent thirtieth-anniversary commemoration of the China–Brazil Earth Resources Satellite programme. He said that, as part of that programme, both countries successfully built and launched a family of satellites dedicated to monitoring Earth resources, and the next unit in the series is scheduled to launch in 2019. Brazil also promotes open data-access policies to ensure that such technologies benefit developing countries, he said, adding that a database of images hosted by the National Institute of Space Research is available to all users. He reiterated the need to ensure that the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs is endowed with financial resources commensurate with increasing State demands in the field. Emphasizing that no effort should be spared to preserve the security and sustainability of outer space activities, he said they would be gravely and irreversibly threatened by even limited use of force against space assets. While the Outer Space Committee is not a disarmament forum, it makes an invaluable contribution to the preservation of peace in space, he pointed out.
KENNETH HODGKINS (United States) said the Trump administration is moving ahead with implementation of the President’s National Strategy for Space, which will drive a “whole-of-Government” approach to United States leadership in partnership with the private sector and allies, including a policy directive on space-traffic management. Commending the Outer Space Committee’s progress on several fronts in 2018, he noted that its Legal Subcommittee has played a key role in establishing the primary outer space treaties and provided a framework allowing space exploration by nations, international organizations and private entities to flourish. The delegation of the United States is pleased with the Legal Subcommittee’s progress on its new multi-year work plan during 2018, he said, noting also the success of the UNISPACE+50 commemoration in June.
HUDA AL ABDALI (United Arab Emirates) said her country has been working to build a strong and sustainable space sector as part of its comprehensive policy to move its development process forward and achieve further prosperity. The United Arab Emirates launched its National Space Law in accordance with its National Space Sector Policy to carry out various national space programmes and explore the sector on the national and international levels, she said, describing Mars Science City as one such significant project. The city is part of the Mars 2117 strategy and will be the first and largest of its kind to simulate life on Mars before building the first human city on Mars. She said that her country’s interest in outer space can be demonstrated by its decision to join a number of related international organizations, entities and agencies, including the Outer Space Committee and its hosting of high-level forums.
DIEGO ALONSO TITUAÑA MATANGO (Ecuador) acknowledged the link between access to outer space technology and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, advocating greater access to such technology for developing countries. Noting that the Sendai Framework agreement involved major commitments to reduce disaster risk and build resilience, he said that becomes more urgent within the context of the Sustainable Development Goals. Universal access to space technology will reduce the impact of climate change, he said, adding that his country’s Government advocates comprehensive care of the environment, a task in which space technology can be helpful. Moreover, the New Urban Agenda adopted in Quito as part of the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) calls for improving data banks and keeping them open to participation by all, he noted.
ESHAD ALHABIB (Iran) said that his country’s dependence on space science and technology is “almost comparable to our dependence on air, seas and oceans”. Describing space exploration as an inalienable right of any State, he emphasized the importance of equality, non-appropriation of outer space, non-discriminatory cooperation and non-interference in the space activities of States, he called space technology an indispensable tool for sustainable development that is direly needed by developing countries. However, existing regulations on the allocation of slots on the geostationary orbit are based on a “first come, first served” basis, he noted. As a result, many orbital slots are occupied by the most developed countries, leaving little chance for developing countries to enter outer space. He went on to stress that the space debris question must be addressed on the basis of the “common but differentiated responsibility” principle, with those States responsible for the debris exclusively responsible for its removal. Noting that small-satellites missions are increasingly important for developing countries, he said they must not be subjected to an ad hoc legal regime that might impose limitations on their development. Expressing alarm over the announced intention of the United States to create a new military force for outer space, he said that country views space as a war-fighting domain, calling for the negotiation of a legally binding instrument to prevent an arms race in outer space.
IBRAHIM MODIBBO UMAR (Nigeria) said outer space and celestial bodies must continue to be safeguarded as a collective common heritage of humankind. Their exploration and use should be for peaceful purposes and carried out for the benefit and in the interest of all countries, irrespective of their degree of economic or scientific development, he emphasized, reiterating Nigeria’s call for international cooperation in that area. The United Nations must promote equal, non-discriminatory access to space technology, with its immense potential to benefit developed and developing countries, he said, recalling that his country actively participated in the UNISPACE+50 event in Vienna and in efforts to support the United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER) programme. Noting the negative impact that climate change has had on the environment, including the shrinking of Lake Chad from 25,000 kilometres to less than 1,500 km in slightly more than 50 years, he said Nigeria is working hard with other regional and international partners to revitalize the Lake Chad Basin’s ecosystem. It recognizes the imperative of non-discrimination in data availability, as introduced by the Principles Relating to Remote Sensing of the Earth from Outer Space, he added. The use of geospatial data for sustainable development has had a positive impact in such fields as agriculture, disaster monitoring and soil degradation, he noted.
MUSTAPHA ABBANI (Algeria) said that his country’s national space programme, Horizon 2020, provides for national needs and knowledge of space sciences. Algeria’s programmes have been designed with consideration for socioeconomic development, he said, reporting that efforts have intensified in that regard. Satellites have been designed to monitor the environment, prevent desertification and strengthen sovereignty, he said, going on to describe several development projects, such as the use of geographical data for areas affected by forest fires, national planning for urban development and the development of solar energy using satellite photography. At the regional level, the Government of Algeria took part in developing the African Space Policy and Strategy, adopted by the African Union in 2016, and contributes to various activities of the United Nations Office for Space Affairs.

Source: United Nations