Press Release

Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space 64th session: UK statement on space and sustainable development

  • Aug 30, 2021
  • Government

The United Kingdom is pleased to address the Committee on our activities in the field of ‘Space for Sustainable Development’ – which feels particularly significant during this pivotal year of climate action, in which the UK is delighted to hold the presidency of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of Parties, in partnership with Italy.

The UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme – IPP – utilises the UK space sector’s capabilities in satellite technology and data services to develop space-enabled solutions in partnership with developing countries which deliver real benefits to people on the ground and, ultimately, make the case for investment in space to policymakers.

Now over five years into its tenure, IPP has a portfolio of 43 projects grant-funded in 47 countries across Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America & Caribbean, two prestigious space awards (including the 2020 Group on Earth Observations’ SDG Award for commitments to sustainable development), and is helping nations to achieve their UN Sustainable Development Goals.

IPP projects are achieving sustainable change and some examples of this include:

There are also many programme-wide impacts which have supported sustainable development and demonstrate the case for investment in space solutions. Specific examples include:

The full extent of IPP achievements since 2016 will be evaluated at the end of this year and we stand ready to report on this with members of the Committee.

While this all tells a positive story, the Coronavirus pandemic has, of course, impacted global governments’ ability to invest in aid initiatives. However, the UK remains a world-leading donor and is keen to maximise the impact of ongoing collaborative work to ensure sustainability, and to explore areas of mutual interest for future partnerships.

The UK’s membership of the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters since 2005 also reflects this outlook, and we are proud to be part of this collaborative which has seen over 700 activations since the Millennium. These include activations for natural disasters for which space tools developed through IPP have provided support – including swift provision of maps and analysis reports to partners by the CommonSensing climate resilience project when Cyclone Harold struck Pacific Island nations in April 2020.

IPP is therefore an excellent representation of the UK’s mission to be a force for good in the world and we stand ready to explore areas of mutual interest for future partnerships and collaboration.

Finally, we look forward to using the review phases stemming from the Space 2030 Agenda as further opportunities to showcase how international cooperation on this important topic can assist all countries to realise their SDG targets.