VIENNA, 16th February, 2016 (WAM) – The long-term sustainability of outer space activities will be one of the key topics at the 53rd session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), starting at the United Nations in Vienna today.

Other key items include mitigation of space debris, the use of space tools for disaster management and recent developments in the use of remote sensing of the Earth by satellites to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The safe use of nuclear power sources in outer space, space weather research and the use of the geostationary orbit, as well as global navigation satellite systems, will also be discussed at the meeting.

An important milestone for the Committee was the official start of the ‘UNISPACE+50″ process in 2015, as this can guide its future role in global space governance. ‘UNISPACE+50″ will, in 2018, mark the 50 th anniversary of the first global United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE I), held in Vienna in 1968.

In her opening speech, Simonetta Di Pippo, Director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), said that “UNOOSA remains committed to support Member States so that they can use space technology and applications and space-based data and information for advancing their socioeconomic development.” The Director stressed that “protecting the space environment and securing the long-term sustainability of outer space activities require further attention by the international community. This in turn makes a case for stronger space governance and supporting structures at all levels.”

International cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space is becoming even more essential as space technology can provide innovative solutions with transformative power to help implement the Sustainable Development Goals, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Paris Agreement on climate change, all agreed in 2015.