Press Releases

    20 August 2002


    Stellenbosch, South Africa, 21-23 August 2002

    VIENNA, 20 August (UN Information Service) -- The Symposium on "Space Technology Provides Solutions for Sustainable Development" will demonstrate that the use of space science and technology can provide solutions to global or regional problems. The Symposium, hosted by the University of Stellenbosch on behalf of the Government of South Africa and co-organized by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA), will showcase the successful contribution of space science and technology to reducing infectious diseases, managing natural resources, protecting the environment, providing education and training in rural areas, and reducing the impact of disasters as well as their prevention and forecast.

    The Symposium is being held in preparation for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, 26 August - 4 September 2002. The topics of the Symposium will include issues from among the main themes of the Summit, such as promoting health through sustainable development, access to energy and energy efficiency, sustainable management of ecosystems and biodiversity, managing the world's freshwater resources, finance and technology transfer and sustainable development initiatives for Africa. The Symposium is co-sponsored by the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), the European Space Agency (ESA), French Space Agency (CNES), German Space Agency (DLR), and SunSpace of South Africa. More than 75 participants from 21 member States, among them 14 African countries, will contribute to the deliberations of the Symposium.

    The Symposium will focus on the statement prepared by the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) for WSSD. The main message of the statement is that space science and technology can play an important role in achieving objectives of sustainability as a global responsibility. Space science and technology and their applications contribute to the efforts of humankind to promote sustainable development in all countries and regions of the world. With the use of space applications, one can meet the challenges of improving people’s lives and conserving natural resources in a world with a growing population that places an increasing strain on all ecosystems and natural resources. Advances in space science and technology would help us respond to the increasing demand for food, water, shelter, sanitation, energy, education, health services and economic security. These are some of the challenges that must be met to achieve sustainable development. However, the potential of space science and technology to assist countries in meeting these challenges is not universally acknowledged. The forthcoming World Summit in Johannesburg brings to the attention of States the numerous and diverse benefits of the use of space science and technology.

    In 1999, the Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, known as UNISPACE III, which was held in Vienna, identified numerous ways in which space science and technology and their applications could help improve the well-being of humankind. At UNISPACE III, the participating States developed a global strategy to turn into reality the potential of space applications to help create conditions for sustainable development. This strategy is contained in the resolution entitled "The Space Millennium: Vienna Declaration on Space and Human Development", which was subsequently endorsed by the General Assembly. COPUOS is taking steps to implement the recommendations of UNISPACE III through action teams consisting of member States, entities of the United Nations system and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations that are willing to carry out the work necessary to obtain tangible results in the next few years.

    On the occasion of WSSD, OOSA has issued a special publication entitled "Space Solutions for the World's Problems: How the United Nations Family is Using Space Technology for Sustainable Development". The publication was prepared in cooperation with the organizations of the United Nations system that participate in the Inter-Agency Meeting on Outer Space Activities and will be distributed to the delegations at the World Summit.

    For more information about the Symposium and the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs, please visit the following web site:

    * *** *


    World Summit on Sustainable Development
    Johannesburg, South Africa
    26 August – 4 September 2002