On 15 and 16 September, ESPI hosted its 10th Autumn Conference, entitled “Space for Sustainable Development”. The ESPI Director, Jean-Jacques Tortora, gave the welcoming address, underlining the importance of using space technology for sustainable development with the reference to UN Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals. The opening was enriched by a key note speech of Vittorio Prodi, who presented the political, environmental and social implications of technology and development in everyday life.
Five speakers provided their insights during the first Session, entitled “Space as an Enabler”. Justin Loiseau (MIT) presented the results of randomized evaluations to the effectiveness of programmes aimed at reduce poverty and innovative solutions for capacity building. Following this, Jennifer Frankel-Reed (USAID) elucidated the audience on the NASA-US Agency for International Development joint activity, SERVIR. Professor Petra Dannecker (University of Vienna) depicted also the necessity of new development models and cooperation. Doctor B.S. Bhatia (ISRO), portrayed the Indian approach to the use of space applications. And finally Ambassador Didier Lenoir (EEAS) exposed the European approach to the sustainable development making use of Copernicus and Galileo.
During the evening, speakers and guests of the Conference were given a guided tour of Vienna, and enjoyed the dinner offered by FFG in HalleE of Museumsquartier, which was part of the annual FFG Forum event.
The second day was opened by a key note speech from Simonetta Di Pippo (UNOOSA), on the topic of Space and the UN 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. Luc St-Pierre (UNOOSA) chaired Session II of the Conference, which revolved around the theme “Sustainable Development and Space”. The first speaker, Mahama Ouedraogo (African Union), presented the new African space policy and strategy, reporting examples and achievements. Then the experiences of NGOs in the field were presented by Andreas Papp (SOS Children Villages) and Edith Rogenhofer (MSF), who described the use of Earth Observation as support tool for working in the field (and in cooperation with space agencies, academy and private companies, such as DLR, University of Salzburg and DHL), stressing the importance of data accessibility, interoperability and free, full and open policy. The morning session was closed by Josef Aschbacher (ESA), who explained how EO can support the sustainable development goals of zero hunger, clean water and sanitation, sustainable cities and communities, climate action, life below water and life on land.
In the afternoon, the third Session, chaired by Alfredo Roma (ESPI), was titled “Financial and non- financial aspects of sustainable development”. The first speaker, Professor Yun Zhao (CCL), offered an overview on the Chinese perspective on sustainable development through the example of the China-Brazil cooperation. After him, Edward Anderson (World Bank), presented the social and economic value of the use of drones (e.g. “Ramani huria - free man”). Then, representatives from the private actors took the floor. Jean-Francois Bureau (Eutelsat) highlighted the importance of satellites based services for sustainable development activities. Later, Dara Dotz (Field-Ready) described how solutions to logistical challenges in remote areas of the world can benefit of 3D printing technology transfers from space. Right after Christine Leurquin (SES) explained how SES is involved in sustainable development, vis-à-vis the activities of O3B, in particular stressing the importance of connectivity for commerce, health, education and economic growth. The last speaker of the day was Andrew Zolli (Planet Labs) who underlined the importance of imaging the whole earth every day and make global change, visible, accessible and actionable.
Finally, the ESPI Director drew the conclusions of this event, reporting the findings of Elisabeth Veit, Stefano Ferretti and Alessandra Vernile, (ESPI Researchers who were respectively rapporteurs of the three Sessions), and remarking how the Conference achieved all its objectives. The outcomes and the proceedings of the event will be collected and distributed later in the year, as well as presented in the short term to the next United Nations/United Arab Emirates- High Level Forum: “Space as a Driver for Socio-Economic Sustainable Development” in Dubai in November and, later on, within the framework of UNISPACE +50 in 2018.