The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.
The following information has been extracted from the United Nations Website. about the importance of Space Science, technology and applications.
The importance of the role of Earth Observation (EO) and geolocation (provided by GNSS) in supporting the achievement of the development goals is recognized by the UN. The potential of space in supporting and contributing to the SDGs is much wider, as space-based services and technologies are key in understanding climate change and disaster management cycle; two examples among innumerable applications.
Soil conditions, water availability, weather extremes and climate change can represent costly challenges both to farmers and the overall food security of populations.
Space-based technology is of value to farmers, agronomists, food manufacturers and agricultural policymakers who wish to simultaneously enhance production and profitability. Remote sensing satellites provide key data for monitoring soil, snow cover, drought and crop development. Rainfall assessments from satellites, for example, help farmers plan the timing and amount of irrigation they will need for their crops. Accurate information and analysis can also help predict a region’s agricultural output well in advance and can be critical in anticipating and mitigating the effects of food shortages and famines.
In recent years, space-based technologies have played a growing role in furthering global health objectives. Information from remote sensing technologies is, for instance, applied to study the epidemiology of infectious diseases. Data is used to monitor disease patterns, understand environmental triggers for the spread of diseases, predict risk areas and define regions that require disease-control planning. This tele-epidemiology is of particular relevance in developing countries, where infectious diseases remain among the top causes of death.
Computer and telecommunications technologies, including satellite communications, also enable the sharing of health and medical expertise. By bringing medical specialists into virtual contact with patients and health practitioners in remote, rural and underserviced areas, tele-health and tele-medicine can improve access to medical and health-related services.
Space-based technologies, such as remotely sensed data, have enhanced scientific understanding of water cycles, air quality, forests and other aspects of the natural environment. These surveying and monitoring tools provide valuable information on the state of ecosystems, which offers objective support for positive environmental action, including conservation and sustainable resource management.
Economic development, social development and environmental protection form the three pillars of sustainable development. Politicians, academics and leaders in business and science are challenged to use this framework to create lasting, economically effective and healthy societies in a world with finite resources.
Earth observation from space is a cost-effective way of obtaining unbiased and essential data on the physical world. Decision makers use this information to understand trends, evaluate needs, and create sustainable development policies and programmes in the best interest of all populations.
Disasters cause human, material, economic and environmental losses that exceed a community’s ability to cope using its own resources. In the past 25 years there has been an increase in the frequency, intensity and unpredictability of disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, landslides and wildfires. Disaster management aims to lessen the impacts of disasters, minimising losses of life and property.
Space-based technologies can contribute to all phases of the disaster management cycle, including prevention, preparedness, early warning, response and reconstruction. Before a disaster takes place, remotely sensed data provides information for systems and models which can predict disasters and provide early warnings. Satellites are also reliable and rapid communication, observation and positioning tools, which become particularly vital to relief and recovery operations when ground based infrastructure is damaged.
Access to education increases economic prospects, broadens opportunities for social mobility, and contributes to the empowerment of women and young girls. While remote and rural communities have traditionally struggled with access to education, space-based technologies, such as satellite communications technologies, are helping to bridge this access gap.
Technologies like web and videoconferencing and voice over Internet protocol allow educators and students to create virtual classrooms, regardless of physical locations. Other versions of distance learning allow learners to access web-based course materials on their own schedules, and communication between students and teachers may take place through e-mails, message boards or video recordings. Tele-education has become so popular that many institutions worldwide now offer distance education options ranging from the simplest instruction to degree and doctoral programs.
Beyond facilitating programme delivery, space also plays an inspirational role in education. Classes on space topics often spark students’ curiosity and imagination and encourage youth of both genders to become increasingly involved in the sciences.
With increasing and sometimes rapid urbanization, cities frequently face challenges with housing, water, sanitation, electricity, crime, pollution and transportation.
Space-based technologies provide unique tools for planning socially and environmentally sustainable human settlements. Central government policymakers, mayors, city planners, engineers and landscape architects are among those who use remote sensing tools that measure and monitor existing patterns of land use and infrastructure development. Not only does this data inform decision makers about current urban projects, complex models can also be constructed to predict future trends in human settlements and urbanization.
Numerous new scientific developments and discoveries have already come out of human desire to know more about and explore space. While some findings may only ever have direct space applications, many more result in spin off technologies, products and services with direct benefits to populations on Earth. Scratch resistant lenses, temper foam, freeze drying technology and improvements to radial tires are simple examples of space spin offs that have already contributed to the fields of health, public safety and transportation.
The world’s population is increasingly interconnected, with information, goods and people being moved between locations at unprecedented volumes and rates. Global Navigation Satellite Systems are technologies which use Earth-orbiting satellites, networks of ground control stations, and receivers to calculate positions by triangulation. Global Navigation Satellite Systems, such as the American Global Positioning System and the Russian GLONASS, provide extremely accurate positioning and navigation information, which is relied upon in aviation, maritime, rail and road transit.
Space-based technologies, namely communications satellites, enable global telecommunications systems by relaying signals with voice, video and data to and from one or many locations.
While Earth-based alternatives to space technologies are sometimes possible, space-based technology can often reduce infrastructure requirements and offer more cost-effective service delivery options. For instance, instead of constructing a series of transmission and relay towers to broadcast television programmes to far-to-reach places, one satellite dish could be provided to a remote community to pick up broadcast signals sent from a satellite.
Humanitarian assistance and aid are material and logistical actions undertaken to help people in need. Space-based technologies provide unique contributions to the international humanitarian system. Remotely sensed data and space-based communications technologies, for instance, often provide valuable assistance with logistical planning, rapid decision-making and resource allocation and can thereby improve the ways in which humanitarian assistance is designed and delivered.
In 1958, shortly after the launch of the first artificial satellite, the General Assembly decided to establish an ad hoc Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.
Since that time the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space has evolved, and the Committee and its two Subcommittees have become unique platforms for States to come together to review the scope of international cooperation in peaceful uses of outer space, encourage continued research and the dissemination of information on outer space matters, and study legal question arising from the exploration of outer space.
When it comes to space activities, the areas of science, technology, law, policy and security are inherently interlinked. Space technologies often have overlapping civilian and military applications, and choices made about the uses of outer space directly impact international peace, safety and security. The Office for Outer Space Affairs, in its support of the Committee and its Subcommittees, supports constructive and innovative discussions and agreements on measures that all of us, engaging directly in space activities or benefitting from space-based services, can take to ensure the peaceful, safe and secure continuity of space activities.