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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 September 2018

Space holds the key for humanity's future, officials say at Dubai forum

Hundreds of space-related experts gathered on Monday to discuss the future of space 

The science behind the settlement and exploration of Mars, a high-profile goal for the UAE, has Earth-bound uses. Courtesy Mars One
The science behind the settlement and exploration of Mars, a high-profile goal for the UAE, has Earth-bound uses. Courtesy Mars One

Equal access for all countries to data obtained from space exploration is crucial to meeting the United Nations’ sustainable development goals, officials said on Mondayspace .

“To understand what is happening to our Earth and to be able to elaborate efficient counter-measures, we need to monitor developments and facilitate access to reliable data,” said Simonetta Di Pippo, director of the UN’s Office for Outer Space Affairs. “Space infrastructure offers us this unique tool and is crucial for this purpose.

“Most of us take it for granted, but there are countries and people who do not have access to the benefits stemming from these instruments. We must ensure that these are available to everyone at any time with equal opportunities to take advantage of them.

“The so-called space divide – the gap between the nations that have developed space-related capabilities and technologies and those who do not have access to them – gets bigger every day, which increases inequalities.”

Ms Di Pippo was addressing the second UN-UAE High Level Forum in Dubai, which dealt with space exploration as a means for sustainable development.

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Dr Mohammed Al Ahbabi, director general of the UAE Space Agency, told the forum: “Space has been placed as an important part of our economic diversification strategy and transformation from a resource-based to a knowledge-based economy.

“We fully recognise the importance of space exploration in the larger context of advancing humanity’s legacy.

“Fostering the well-being of humankind requires working together and promoting the benefits of Stem education to the youth while providing older students with advanced facilities and educational opportunities in the sector is one of our top priorities.”

Next year is the 50th anniversary of the 1968 UN Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, when countries gather to consider the future course of space co-operation for the benefit of humankind.

“Special attention has been devoted to the developing countries,” Ms Di Pippo said. “It is set within pillars, including economy, space society, space accessibility and space diplomacy, the 2016 Dubai Declaration and targets of the 17 sustainable development goals.

“The adopted sustainable development agenda is designed to heal and secure our planet. International co-operation and long-term planning is essential in this regard, and a global understanding of space technology is therefore imperative.”

Advances in technology and innovation are expected to take humanity beyond any place it has been, she said.

“We are literally reaching for the stars every day,” Ms Di Pippo said. “It is important to cooperate right now to preserve our home and remind ourselves that space is a ‘global commons’ and a limited resource that has to be protected through one shared vision.

“The advancements of space technology benefit all member states of the UN and support our efforts in addressing global challenges while implementing the goals of the 2030 agenda.”

The UAE is on the right track, as a signatory to three major international space treaties, the forum heard.

It is also examining a rescue agreement, where countries take all possible steps to assist astronauts in distress, return them to their launching state and assist other nations in recovering objects that return to Earth outside of their territory.

“The global and UAE space sectors have witnessed major developments,” said Yousuf Al Shaibani, director general of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre.

“Globally, new space agencies have emerged, sustainable programmes were announced and new space technologies launched.

“The UAE space sector is growing exponentially, following a long-term vision that promotes international co-operation and foresees the future needs of humanity to further strengthen the country’s pivotal and competitive position in space.”

Worth US$330 billion (Dh1.21 trillion), the global space industry is developing at a rapid pace.

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