Africa: Use of 'Space Tools' for Sustainable Development Stressed By UN Celestial Committee

Space-based information technologies must be fully integrated into the international efforts to overcome such challenges to sustainable development as climate change and food insecurity, the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space was told as it opened its annual session today in Vienna.

"We note the need to increase awareness at the global level to fully recognize the importance of space tools and space-derived geospatial information to meet the objectives of the global development agenda," Azzedine Oussedik of Algeria said as he accepted his election as Chair 57th session of the Committee.

Consideration of space and development at the current session of the Committee builds upon the outcome of the 2012 'Rio+20' UN Conference on Sustainable Development, in which Governments recognized the importance of space-derived data, Simonetta Di Pippo, Director of the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), said in her opening remarks.

"The Committee, its subsidiary bodies and the Office have together a unique opportunity to mobilize support and commitment at the global level for increasing the role of space-based technology and information as an enabler of the goals and objectives of the post-2015 development agenda," Ms. Di Pippo said, referring to global priorities expected to succeed the Millennium Development Goals after their 2015 deadline.

According to UNOOSA, the Committee will consider a set of draft guidelines on the contribution of space technologies to sustainable development as well as on the sustainability of space activities themselves. In that context, space debris, space-situational awareness, space weather and the regulatory framework for space activities will be addressed.

In addition, the Space Mission Planning Advisory Group will meet on 12 and 13 June to continue to prepare for an international response to a Near-Earth Object impact threat, or collision with asteroids or comets.

The Committee's session, which runs through 20 June, will also include events upon the donation of models of space technologies from Poland and China, and hear from astronauts on the future of human space flight.

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