Funmilola Oluwafemi (Nigeria)
Sustainable Development Goals and Space Policy: Some Vital Recommendations
As space exploration requires crossing translational boundaries, space law became a field independent of traditional aerospace law. Space law encompasses the body of law governing space-related activities, which includes both international and domestic agreements, rules, and principles. Space law is in tandem with space policy; but is distinct. Space policy is the political decision-making process for, and the application of the public policy of a state (or association of states) regarding spaceflight and uses of outer space, both for civilian (scientific and commercial) and military purposes. The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), as a key body in the space sector, believes in inspiration for humans to do wonders in outer space; the progress of space exploration has common interest for all humankind and should perform to benefit all people irrespective of their personal, economic and scientific development; outer space use is only for peaceful activities; in international cooperation for strengthening relations between countries/people and promoting friendship. These are principles in which outer-space treaty has been organized and forms the basis of international space law.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can only be realized with a stronger commitment to partnership and strengthened cooperation. This is only possible through an equitable system that is fair and benefits all. Achieving this reinvigorated cooperation requires coherent policies coordinated to help non-space-faring nations; an enabling environment for sustainable development at all levels and by all actors as some SDGs require only policy changes not finance; and infrastructure development projects which are key, in form of Public-Private-Partnerships (PPPs) in ensuring several provisions to the population. Strengthened cooperation harmonizes efforts, and works toward the implementation of a unified strategy for achieving SDGs. Increased information-sharing, technical assistance, consultancies, and dialogue among actors such as government, civil society, and the private sector will help pool resources and contribute to the improvement of development strategies. Space science and technology’s role in socio-economic growth and development to enhance the quality of life and living standard of people cannot be over-emphasized. This is practically achieving SDGs, and the preservation of the space environment for the human race is therefore vital.
Recently, activities of small satellites have increased and this is caused by additional advantages including data complementation for big satellites by covering more ground; passing over more frequently; being able to fly dangerous orbits; and continuing data records if there is a malfunction or a wait between major satellite missions. Examples of these small satellites are nanosatellites and CubeSats. Many of them are in the execution stage, therefore a soaring amount of launches next few years. This revolution is due to the success of the scientific goal of many national space agencies to improve the interest of young amateur scientists or students. It is crucial therefore that space policies provide: security for co-existing with different satellite users; the existing policy domains and emphasis on the need for an integrated policy between various satellite operators to bring functional ecosystem in space orbits, creating space-environment in harmony; and re-visitation of the policies guiding the satellites on a frequent basis is key.
Space mining involves resources, technologies, and economics that explains the required future legal aspects of asteroid mining, the adverse effects of space mining, and the need for legal safe keepers. Space mining industries are focused mainly on the near asteroid belt. Are lawmakers or industries having a roadmap for contingencies yet? Putting in place needed policies (and implementing them) on space research will be beneficial to the space sector at national, regional, or continent levels. For policies to be created and implemented there are appropriate ways of communicating them to those in power for approval. Space scientists, researchers, and academia should be diplomats that know how to communicate rightly for their ideas to be approved. This makes linkages between research and policy and tells how research leads to policy-making. Researchers can communicate their research to the public using appropriate vernacular and publishing in journals. This makes national legislators forced to put in appropriate national laws.