The United Nations/United Arab Emirates High Level Forum: “Space as a Driver for Socio-Economic Sustainable Development”, started yesterday in Dubai, and was hosted by Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) and jointly organised by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the United Arab Emirates Space Agency (UAESA).
The Forum was attended by H.E. Yousuf Hamad Al Shaibani, Director General, MBRSC, Ms. Simonetta DI PIPPO, Director, United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, and H.E. Dr. Mohammed Nasser Al Ahbabi, Director General, UAE Space Agency, as well as participation of more than 150 representatives from academic institutions, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, governmental entities, space agencies, and the private sector from around 50 countries.
During the Forum the space community from around the world discussed the benefits to society of space and international cooperation and coordination in the peaceful uses of outer space. They also addressed the importance of space in achieving sustainable development goals and engage further in the cross-sectoral areas of the four High Level Forum pillars of space economy, space society, space accessibility and space diplomacy.
For the second year MBRSC hosted the United Nations/United Arab Emirates High Level Forum, which is part of a series of high level fora that will contribute to “UNISPACE+50”, to be held in Vienna in June 2018. “UNISPACE+50” will be a “space summit” to mark the 50th anniversary of the first United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.
At the opening session, H.E. Yousuf Hamad Al Shaibani, Director General of MBRSC, delivered a speech, welcoming all the international space society to the United Nations/United Arab Emirates High Level Forum. Al Shaibani thanked the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and the UAE Space Agency for organizing the Forum, which aims to achieve the future aspirations of the space community to have a unique and sustainable space sector.
Al Shaibani added: “The forum is an important platform to exchange views and ideas among space experts and specialists from around the world, and to come up with recommendations that support the role of space in global social and economic sustainable development”.
Al Shaibani pointed out that “since the first High Level Forum in Dubai last year, which delivered the Dubai Declaration, the global and UAE space sectors have witnessed major developments”. He added: “Globally, new space agencies have emerged, sustainable programs were announced, in addition to the launch of new space technologies. On the other hand, the UAE space sector is growing exponentially, following a long-term vision that promotes international cooperation, and foresees the future needs of humanity to further strengthen the UAE’s pivotal and competitive position in space.”
Al Shaibani emphasized that the “Dubai Declaration defines the future steps for the development of the space field in the world”, pointing that “development of space programs should be based on cooperation between government and private sectors on the international level, stimulating innovation, as well as activating the participation of youth and women in the field”.
Al Shaibani concluded by stressing the importance of international cooperation in space, highlighting that MBRSC has built strategic relations with a wide number of international entities since the last decade, notably UNOOSA.
H.E. Dr. Mohammed Al Ahbabi, Director General of UAE Space Agency, said: “The space sector has been strategically placed as an important part of our economic diversification plan and transformation of the UAE’s economy from a resources based to a knowledge based economy.”
“We fully recognize the importance of space exploration in the larger context of advancing humanity’s legacy. Fostering the well-being of humankind requires working together with all relevant entities in the field of space, and our commitment to collaboration is exemplified by our numerous global relationships and connections with major players in the space sector,” Dr. Al Ahbabi added.
Ms. Simonetta Di Pippo, Director of the United Nations Office for outer space Affairs, said that “This High Level Forum serves as an exceptional opportunity for stakeholders at all levels to exchange view and perceptions, ideas and opinions on the future of the space agenda as a whole. This week we shall focus on international collaboration and cooperation while addressing new challenges and issues in the dynamic contemporary space sector to develop a stronger approach to global space governance”.
“It is important to remind ourselves that space is a “global commons” and a limited resource that has to be protected through one joint vision. The advancements of space technology benefit all member states of the UN in one way or another, and space technology supports our common goals and our efforts in addressing global challenges and implementing the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. I am looking forward to receiving inputs from this Forum for how we can jointly go forward towards UNISPACE+50,” said Ms. Di Pippo.
Under UNOOSA’s leadership, the first substantive High Level Forum was organized last year and delivered the “Dubai Declaration”, which urged all parties to further utilize the space sector as a driver for economic and social development, emphasizing that strengthening socio-economic development will require an integrated approach among the space industry and other sectors to understand and meet the needs of users and the society at large.
The Dubai Declaration recommendations emphasised the need for building stronger international cooperation and coordination in the peaceful uses of outer space at all levels, and the need for broadening access to space. The declaration also asserted that space exploration is a long-term driver for innovation and strengthening international cooperation on an all-inclusive basis and creating new opportunities for addressing global challenges. It also affirmed the need to strengthen youth and women’s involvement in the space industry. In addition to that, the Forum’s participants endorsed the pillars of space economy, space society, space accessibility & space diplomacy, which will constitute Space2030 – the global space agenda that will emerge from UNISPACE+50.
During the opening session of this year’s High Level Forum, a short film was shown that highlighted the most prominent space programs launched by the UAE and MBRSC’s achievements since the hosting of the forum last year, including the launch of the National Space Program, which includes the Emirates Mars Mission – Hope mission, National Astronaut Program, Satellite Development Program and Mars 2117 strategy. In addition, the video shed light on the successful launch of Nayif-1, completion of Hope probe Critical Design Review, KhalifaSat final manufacturing stages, winning the IAF Excellence in 3G Diversity Award, launch of Mars Science City, MBRSC’s winning bid to host the 71st edition of IAC 2020 in Dubai and finally the organizing of the MBRSC Science Event and Project Space.