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#SpaceWatchGL Op’ed: SERBSPACE – An Announcement and Call to Action

Milan Mijovic, president of SERBSPACE

In this article, Milan Mijovic, President of SERBSPACE presents the argument for the formation of an entity that encourages emerging nations to pursue space ambitions.

2018 will mark the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space – UNISPACE+50, and one of the objectives is Thematic Priority 7 (TP7) “Capacity-building for the 21st Century” and the Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) on “Quality Education”. The upcoming 69th International Astronautical Congress will share same ideas, a vision of more diverse space sector, with special emphasis on new, emerging countries.

With this in mind, the Serbian Office for Space Sciences, Research and Development (SERBSPACE) has been working on the issue of bringing non-faring nations into space sector. Following UN/IAF work in Guadalajara in 2016, where Milan Mijovic, president of SERBSPACE presented reasons and justifications as to why emerging countries should have a national space agency, and presented a Serbian Space agency project, SERBSPACE continued to work on this matter. It presented the idea of international cooperation between emerging countries at a UN/Russian Federation Workshop on Human Capacity-Building in Space Science and Technology for Sustainable, Social and Economic Development held in Samara, Russia in 2017.

The presentation proposed ideas on the importance of cooperation amongst emerging countries, which could lead to one joint organisation consisting of emerging and developing countries. Such modus could overcome the perennial problems of underdeveloped countries and would be a way forward for these countries and citizens, opening up further possibilities such as scientific contribution, international cooperation and active involvement in the space sector. It was warmly welcomed by the present representatives of emerging countries.

Ms. Bojana Minic, head of MONTESPACE

After Russia, SERBSPACE supported the creation of MONTESPACE, an affiliate office for space sciences, research and development in Montenegro. Having SERBSPACE as co-founder, MONTESPACE followed the joint agenda set up by SERBSPACE to bring Montenegro into the space community. It was agreed that each office would act locally on the development of space projects, but together they would organise joint projects. One of the largest projects initiated is the creation of the Emerging Countries Space Office (ECSO), which will rely on Russian support as a significant number of emerging space stakeholders have expressed their will to join such an organisation and strongly believe that it is a way of finally addressing the under representation of space non-faring nations.

The idea of an umbrella organisation that will gather emerging and underdeveloped countries is a concrete and sustainable solution that will address the challenges faced by non-space faring countries. Throughout our many years of practice, it has become evident that it is very problematic for developing countries and their citizens to become actively involved in the space sector. Although it is clear that the international community continues to provide help to developing countries in terms of grants, scholarships and other types of support, in most cases results were not long-lasting and not sustainable. We believe that a more systematic solution has to be found, and that will be the creation of a supranational entity which would support every individual, emerging country.

“By creating such an entity, we would create a direct way for emerging countries to gather under one joint organisation and with one joint goal, and not to act alone,” said Milan Mijovic, President of SERBSPACE. “It is simply the most realistic modus operandi of fulfilling the goals set up by international community and 2030 Agenda as well as the “no one shall be left behind” rule which is being highlighted at the recent Congresses.”

The proposed project would have the objective to investigate the possibility of establishing such an organization, but also to provoke and examine opinions given by international space stakeholders. It will gather emerging space leaders from developing countries who would provide the arguments for this type of organisation.

The initial purpose of ECSO would be to introduce and improve national initiatives to enhance space-related human capacity-building; promotion of education on space science, technology and its applications; enhancing human capacity building in space science, technology and its applications for sustainable development and improving public awareness and increasing support for space activities.

“The time has come to face the fact that most developing countries cannot stand alone on international space scene, but together and with joint approach guided by an international organization, it could become possible that “Space – a common heritage of mankind” does not remain only as an idea, but a long expected reality,” concluded Mijovic.

On behalf of SERBSPACE and MONTESPACE, we invite you to join this important, global project. If you would like to learn more, get involved or contribute, please send an e-mail to [email protected].

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