Portugal and United Nations co-organise conference dedicated to Management and Sustainability of Space Activities

The Conference on "Management and Sustainability of Outer Space Activities" takes place in May 2024 and comes in preparation for the United Nations' "Future Summit: Multilateral Solutions for a Better Future".

The Portuguese Space Agency, together with the United Nations (in this case through UNOOSA, the United Nations Office for Space Affairs), is organising a conference on the Management and Sustainability of Space Activities in May 2024. The meeting comes in preparation for the Future Summit: Multilateral Solutions for a Better Future and builds on the Policy Brief For All Humanity – The Future of Outer Space Governance published by the UN Secretary-General’s office in May this year.

The Future Summit will bring together the heads of UN Member States in New York from 22 to 24 September 2024. The event aims to discuss the future of the United Nations and develop a set of measures in different areas of governance that strengthen international cooperation in multiple areas, to implement a reinvigorated multilateral system capable of positively impacting the lives of populations.

In the space sector, the Future Summit aims to “advance the peaceful and sustainable use of outer space”, which will “update norms governing the use of and behaviour in space so that it is peaceful, secure and sustainable for the benefit of all”.

“Portugal will support the Future Summit by holding an international conference on the Management and Sustainability of Outer Space Activities in May 2024. It will be an important moment in the Space sector, not only at the level of the United Nations but also of Portugal”, says Hugo André Costa. The executive director of the Portuguese Space Agency explains that this meeting will be the “culmination of several months of work that include two international symposia, taking place virtually, dedicated to the definition of policies and technical aspects”.  

The first, the Technical Symposium, occurs between 23 and 27 October 2023. The Space Policy Symposium is scheduled for 2024, between 11 and 15 March. Both meetings take place virtually and are spread over a week to facilitate the participation of all interested Member States, regardless of their geographical location. 

This set of initiatives aims to respond to the challenge launched by the Policy Brief mentioned above, which calls on Member States to reflect on the future – in particular on the coordination of space traffic and debris, as well as on the exploitation of space resources – by proposing actions to ensure space sustainability and governance.

Space and the exponential growth in the number of satellites in Earth orbit, resulting from falling development and launch costs, and the potential growth of space debris are the focus of the Space Policy Brief.

“Both the preparatory events and the conference will be key to discuss the terms in which the international norms related to sustainability stand and to understand sustainability and to understand, in an environment that promotes open discussion among participants, which path can be taken through the establishment of mandatory space standards or as non-binding standards”, explains Hugo André Costa.

Carolina Rêgo-Costa, legal advisor to the Portuguese Space Agency, who recently assumed one of the vice-presidencies of the United Nations Committee for the Peaceful Use of Outer Space (COPUOS), recalls that “the Portuguese Space Law already incorporates a series of sustainability concerns” which places the country “in the front ranks of the world in terms of regulation”. “We are also starting to have companies already very much focused on working with these issues,” she adds.

For more information, see the conference website at unportugal.ptspace.pt


Portugal Space
1 of August, 2023