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UNOOSA in Abu Dhabi to create space-solutions database

A project office of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, UNOOSA, to be opened in Abu Dhabi later this year, will develop a database of space-based solutions to help achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, according to a top official. “Each of the 17 SDGs are analysed and linked to space activities as part of the efforts to use the space for sustainability on earth. Our head office [in Vienna] is doing this on a continuous basis,” Simonetta Di Pippo, UNOOSA Director, told Emirates News Agency, WAM, in a skype interview from Vienna.

“As a new global hub to foster international progress on space sustainability and space for development issues, the office in Abu Dhabi will allow us to create a database with all the solutions and the best practices [that are also related to SDGs] that we – the entire space community, not the UNOOSA alone – are developing around the world,” she revealed.

The office in Abu Dhabi will be UNOOSA’s first office in the Middle East. At the moment UNOOSA has three offices, in Vienna (Austria), Bonn (Germany) and Beijing (China). Although the new office was scheduled to open in October this year, restricted travel and logistics due to the current global health situation would be causing a delay.

The office will be opened later this year or latest by early next year in Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, Di Pippo revealed. “A centre of sustainable technology solutions,” Masdar City is the right place to host such an office, she said.

The UNOOSA and the UAE Space Agency signed an agreement in June to increase collaboration on the long-term sustainability of space activities and promote the use of space for sustainable development, which paved the way for opening the agency’s office in Abu Dhabi.

The new office will help develop projects that reinforce the concept of sustainability on space, which are also linked to sustainability on earth, Di Pippo said. “Because what we do is striving to bring the benefits of space explorations to everyone, everywhere, so that no one is left behind,” she added.

As an example, she mentioned the Martian exploration and its possible connection with sustainability on earth. “To go to Mars, you need to develop certain number of technological solutions, which can have an impact on earth. So these kind of activities will be part of the portfolio of the office in Abu Dhabi.”

“And so, for example, we could discuss how to use space for achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2015,” UNOOSA Director said.

Likewise, SDG number four, which is the quality education; number six – clean water and sanitation; number 11 – make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable or how to develop Smart cities etc.; all these can be analysed and linked to space activities, she explained.

“So I believe that this would be a service that the UAE Space Agency and UNOOSA together will be providing to the world community. And I’m quite proud of having been the initiator, together with UAE, on this very important idea and of this important office,” the official said.

As WAM reported on 19th July, Di Pippo said that Emirates Mars Mission, Hope Probe, was the UAE’s contribution to the entire world. “The UAE is always looking forward to the future; it is our wonderful partner. The important part is that they are not doing this [Hope Probe] for themselves but for the region and the entire world,” she said. “I am excited about the Hope Probe. This shows that the UAE is becoming really a main player in the space arena.”

The Hope probe took off from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Centre on 20th July. It would travel 493.5 million km over seven months to reach Mars’ orbit in February 2021, coinciding with the UAE’s Golden Jubilee celebrations to mark the historic union of the Emirates.

WAM/ Ibrahim Shukralla

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