European space technology key to achieving a more sustainable future

European space technology key to achieving a more sustainable future

The EU Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA) and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOSSA) team up to leverage space technology.

Most are familiar with the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the collection of 17 goals designed to serve as a blueprint for achieving a better, more sustainable future for everyone. But did you know that achieving these goals depends in part on the use of European space technologies?

That’s the conclusion reached by a joint report authored by the EU Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA) and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA). “Galileo and EGNOS determine a precise position anytime, anywhere and Copernicus provides information on the Earth’s surface, atmosphere and oceans,” says EUSPA Executive Director Rodrigo da Costa. “However, the joint use of these programmes unleashes an array of synergies that can have a substantial impact.”

“Together, Galileo, EGNOS and Copernicus deliver key information supporting the selection of the best location for infrastructures, implement the most fuel-efficient flight paths, monitor CO2 emissions, design efficient and autonomous transportation networks and increase agricultural yields to sustainably feed a growing population, to name just a few examples,” adds UNOOSA Director Simonetta Di Pippo. 

In other words, when it comes to determining how to best meet the UN SDGs, the answer can often be found in space. 

International collaboration on global goals 

Recognising the essential role that Earth Observation and European navigation and positioning services play in supporting sustainable development, and with the goal of leveraging their many benefits, EUSPA and UNOOSA have signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

“I sign this MoU with great pride and excitement as UNOOSA is expanding its long-term cooperation with one of the leading space entities. The space sector in the European Union is strong and I look forward to working with EUSPA in extending our support to all Member States of our organisations. Space assets are transformative tools for achieving sustainable socio-economic development and together we aspire to tap into their full potential to ensure their benefits reach everyone, everywhere.” 

EUSPA Executive Director, Rodrigo da Costa, emphasized: “The collaboration between EUSPA and UNOOSA is further reinforced with this MoU, and fully aligned with our agency’s commitment to contribute to the delivery of the EU priorities such as the EU Green Deal. Space data and services are more crucial than ever, and we will explore how synergies between satellite navigation systems such as Galileo, Earth observation technology such as Copernicus and satellite communication can help us address pressing societal challenges such as climate change and foster space economy.”

The MoU, which was signed on 9 March 2022, builds on the achievements of a prior MoU that the two organisations signed in 2016. Within the new MoU are provisions for conducting joint studies on the integration of not only EGNSS and Earth Observation, but also Satellite Communications and Space Situational Awareness (SSA). 

These studies will look at how the entire EU Space Programme can be used to manage natural resources and the environment, reduce the risks of disasters, develop new infrastructure and prepare the world for a growing population. 

As to the latter, EUSPA and UNOOSA are already working on a joint publication about the impact that a global population of 8 billion people will likely have on the environment, climate change, resource scarcity and urbanisation. The report, which is expected to be released later this year, will also address the role that space data and technology can play in mitigating such risks. 

In addition to the joint studies, EUSPA and UNOOSA will also coordinate to conduct pilot projects, facilitate knowledge sharing and education on the EU Space Programme, and foster a space economy that best supports the UN SDGs.  


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