Abu Dhabi: The UAE is set to participate in UNISPACE +50, a collocated symposium and special high-level meeting of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), to be held in Vienna from June 18 to 22.
The event represents one of the most significant international space sector gatherings, and will be attended by a high-level delegation from the UAE Space Agency, with senior members giving talks and presentations on a number of topics throughout the event.
The UAE Space Agency delegation is headed by Dr Ahmad Abdullah Humaid Bel Houl Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills and chairman of the UAE Space Agency, and Dr Mohammad Al Ahbabi, director-general of the UAE Space Agency, along with the agency’s senior management team.
UNISPACE +50 marks the 50th anniversary since the first United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space was held in 1968, and builds on the contributions of subsequent editions of the conference in 1982 and 1999. Among the areas set to be discussed this year is the role of space in realising the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.
Over the years, the conferences have promoted global space governance and defined the roles of public and private sector space organisations. The conference also provides a platform for the committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), which will gather for its 61st session and high-level segment on June 20 and 21, before resuming its regular sessions.
The UAE Space Agency gained membership of the committee in 2015 following a unanimous vote at the committees meeting at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Dr Al Falasi will represent the UAE during a speech at the COPUOS high-level meetings, in which he will highlight the importance of the space sector, tracing its developments over the past 50 years. He will also discuss the UAE national space sector and its support for the UNISPACE +50 objectives.
Dr Al Ahbabi will participate in a dedicated session for international space agency directors, which will focus on the importance of international cooperation, the peaceful use of space and the role of science and technology in supporting sustainable socioeconomic development around the world.
Dr Al Ahbabi will also deliver a speech at a special session entitled ‘My Planet, My Future: Space and the Sustainable Development Goals’ to discuss the space sector’s role in achieving the 2030 Agenda goals, in which he will emphasise the UAE’s current activities and commitments.
Hamda Al Shehi, part of the Space Missions Department at the UAE Space Agency, will participate in a special youth session to discuss the changing space environment and the new opportunities for societies around the world as a result of emerging technologies.
The Space Agency will also be participating in the UAE’s collocated pavilion, which will be on display from June 18 to 23, with space sector companies demonstrating their national space sector capabilities. The UAE pavilion will also highlight the level of investments, current space exploration projects and capacity building programmes taking place throughout the country.
The UAE Space Agency will also hold a social event on the sidelines of the conference that aims to strengthen ties with international space sector policymakers and high-level representatives taking part in the conference.
A total of three preliminary events took place during the build-up to UNISPACE +50, with two being held in the UAE around the theme of ‘space as a driver for socioeconomic development’.
Bringing together policymakers to formulate a framework for the future of space-related activities, the events resulted in the Dubai Declaration, which was adopted at a high-level forum in Dubai in November 2016. The declaration consists of 20 principles, centred around the development and enhancement of space economy, space society, space accessibility and space diplomacy. The declaration also emphasised space exploration as an engine for innovation and to strengthening international cooperation.
Dr Al Ahbabi said: “Our work in hosting the high-level forums preceding the UNISPACE +50 activities has demonstrated the UAE’s distinguished position in the global space sector. It is a reflection of our role in, and commitment to, working with the international community to shape the future of space. In particular, the Dubai Declaration, which is representative of the tangible outputs and recommendations from these forums, will act as a key factor in using space utilisation and collaboration to realise the objectives of the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.
“This commitment to working with international partners and space sector organisations to contribute towards the sustainable development goals has also driven our participation in UNISPACE +50 itself. Throughout our time in Vienna, we will seek to emphasise the UAE’s role in contributing towards the 2030 Agenda. We also hope to discuss the integration of the range of capacities presented by member countries.”