Space technology can make the world better

Simonetta Di Pippo, Director of UN’s Office for Outer Space Affairs says they can contribute to the push for sustainable development. 

In an interview for UN News, Simonetta Di Pippo, Director of UN’s Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) spoke about UNOOSA’s plans to help developing countries to access space and to get more women into the space sector.

UNOOSA promotes international cooperation in the peaceful use and exploration of space and the use of space science technology for sustainable economic and social development.

They’ve been busy recently. Since a gathering held in Dubai late last year they’ve been focusing in increasing awareness about this topic and are preparing for the High-Level Forum on Space as Driver for Socio-Economic Sustainable Development and the 2018 commemoration of the UN Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE+50).

Referring to the High Level Forum in Dubai Di Pippo explained it was organized under the scheme of four pillars: space economy, space society, space accessibility and space diplomacy. UNOOSA believes much more attention needs to go into space activities.

 “If we are able to demonstrate that space activities are really part of our day-to-day life, and the quality of life on Earth is improving thanks to space activities and space-based data, and what we are able to do in terms of putting a lot of different players together, this can help governments to become partners in this process and also developing countries to be able to get more advantages and more benefits from the use of space-related technologies on Earth,” Di Pippo explained.

Also, one of their goals is to advance in women’s involvement and leadership in the space sector. According to Di Pippo this is a field that demands commitment and dedication, in which women are very good at.

UNOOSA will be putting more attention to women, especially in developing countries. “we are putting together a project called Space for Women, and “space,” you know, has a double meaning. I would like to bring Space for Women to the attention of Member States in June 2018, UNISPACE+50, hoping they will be supportive, also in terms of the financial resources I will need to bring the project to the right level,” she said.

As to encourage women to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics studies Di Pippo says it is important for women to have the same opportunities and be treated equally. Then it is a matter of individual hard work to get what they want.

As to other ways in which space can help life on Earth she said, “After 30 years of developing spacecraft and sending astronauts to the space station, collaborating on real projects, I am now looking at the other side of space, how you can use space for the benefit of humankind, how space can help improve the quality of life on Earth, so it is the right time in my career to be at the United Nations and to bring my expertise in developing huge projects for the benefit of all UN Member States.”

She ended the interview by stating space-based data can help in the fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals in different ways. “For example, through (satellite) images or information services or applications. This is the reason why we have appointed the former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly as UN Champion for Space.”

“[He] has been in space, looking at the Earth from the outside, and looking at how fragile it is and the issue of climate change and space debris around the Earth, but also global health, space weather, water and food security. We have so many topics relevant to the 17 SDGs, including gender equality. Really, we can do a lot in helping the world become a better world.”


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