Having in mind that 2018 celebrates 50th anniversary of the first United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space – UNISPACE+50, 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 shares the same idea, and that is a vision of more diverse space sector, with special emphasis on new, emerging countries.
With this in mind, 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 SERBSPACE has presented reasons and justifications why an emerging countries should have a national space agency, and presented a Serbian Space agency project, SERBSPACE continued to extend its activities on this matter and presented the idea of international cooperation between emerging countries at 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. Presentation proposed ideas on the importance of cooperation among emerging countries, which could lead to one joint organization consisting of emerging and developing countries. Such modus could overcome standing problem of underdeveloped countries and would be a way forward for mentioned countries and its citizens, hence opening further possibilities such as scientific contribution, international cooperation and active involvement in Space sector. It was highly welcomed by the present representatives of emerging countries.
After Russia, SERBSPACE supported creation of MONTESPACE, an affiliate Office for Space sciences, research and development in Montenegro. Having SERBSPACE as co-founder, MONTESPACE followed joint agenda set up by SERBSPACE in bringing Montenegro into Space community. It was agreed that each Office would act locally in development of space projects, but together they would organize joint projects. One of the biggest of such projects is the creation of Emerging countries Space office (ECSO), which would rely on Russia presentation, given the fact that a significant number of emerging space stakeholders have expressed their will to join such organization and strongly believe that it is a way of finally addressing the underrepresentation of space non-faring nations.
Having abovementioned in mind, we strongly believe that the idea of an umbrella organization gathering emerging and underdeveloped countries is a concrete and sustainable solution for long lasting issue regarding difficulties surrounding non-faring countries. Throughout our many years of practice, it became evident that it is very problematic for developing countries and its citizens to become actively involved in space sector. Although it is more than clear that international community has and keeps on providing 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 is creation of a supranational entity which would support every individual, i.e. emerging country.
By creating such an entity, we would create a direct way for emerging countries to gather under one joint organization and with one joint goal, and not to act alone. 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.
Proposed project would have an objective to investigate this possibility of establishing such organization, but also to provoke and examine opinions given by international space stakeholders. It would gather emerging space leaders from developing countries who would provide the arguments for this type of organization.
Initial purpose of ECSO would be: introducing and improving 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 to sustainable development and improving public awareness and increasing support for space activities.
The time has come to face the fact that most of developing countries cannot stand alone at 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.
On behalf of SERBSPACE and MONTESPACE, we invite you to join this global project.