Awareness-raising and capacity-building related to the implementation of the Guidelines
for the Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities (LTS Guidelines)
Stakeholder Study Report
A side event organized by the United Kingdom and the Office for Outer Space Affairs
at the 65th Session of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUOS)
9 June 2022 | 10:00-11:00 a.m. CEST
Good day to esteemed delegates in Vienna and around the world. On behalf of the Philippine delegation, allow me to first thank the organizers for inviting us to participate in this panel.
The long-term sustainability of outer space activities is a matter of national importance for the Philippines. We recognize the inherent benefits that the peaceful uses of space science technology and applications bring now and for generations to come. In order to continue harnessing the benefits of space, it is important that we preserve and safeguard the outer space environment through conduct of space activities in a peaceful, safe, and sustainable manner, ensure equitable and rational access to space, and promote information-sharing and confidence-building measures in support of these goals.
With the adoption of the 21 Guidelines for the Long-Term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities (LTS) during the 62nd Session of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) in 2019, nations around the world have been provided a set of standards that they may look to for guidance in implementing and conducting space activities. The Philippines is glad to have shared our views and experiences on this topic when we participated in the recent interview conducted by the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) in connection with the “Promoting Space Sustainability Project” by the UNOOSA and the United Kingdom.
We can say that the LTS Guidelines are much older than the nascent space agency and space program of the Philippines.
Whereas the LTS Guidelines began to be developed in 2010, what we call the Philippine space program can trace its origins back to the Philippine Scientific Earth Observation Microsatellite or the PHL-Microsat Program launched in 2014 and which also marked the beginning of the country’s significant strides in the area of small satellite development. The PHL-Microsat Program was succeeded by the STAMINA4Space Program. These programs are the foundational building blocks of the country’s current space programs.
In parallel to these early programs, efforts were made to lobby for a national space legislation. On August 8, 2019, Republic Act 11363 or the Philippine Space Act was enacted into law. It is the same law that mandated the establishment of the Philippine Space Agency or PhilSA to be the primary policy, planning, coordinating, implementing, and administrative entity of the government for the national space program. Shortly after the law’s signing, the President appointed PhilSA’s first Director General in January 2020 from which time the Agency began its pioneer operations.
Coming from this perspective, even the voluntary implementation of the LTS Guidelines can present a big challenge for developing countries with emerging space capabilities. As the national space agency, it is imperative for PhilSA to ensure that the space program is responsive to domestic needs especially as a taxpayers’ funded endeavor, and that PhilSA is able to build from the ground up while ensuring that the momentum from landmark space programs undertaken by the country are institutionalized and expanded.
In connection with the voluntary implementation of the LTS guidelines, the Philippines has actively pursued efforts to ratify the 5 UN Treaties on Outer Space, conform with registration practices for our space objects, and participate in international cooperation in support of the long-term sustainability of outer space, all in alignment with the mandate provided by the Philippine Space Act.
However, we also recognize that there remain significant gaps in the country’s space legislation which pose obstacles in terms of enforcing standards and requiring compliance from non-state space actors in the country later on. Likewise, we have yet to institute national policy guidance on equally pressing matters closely linked with space sustainability, such as the definition and delimitation of outer space, space debris mitigation especially actions on the risks and threats posed by orbital debris, space traffic management, and space resources to name a few.
In this context, we are pleased to share that the Philippine government has taken a step forward in responding to issues surrounding space by employing a whole-of-government approach, beginning with initiatives from our Philippine Space Council such as the creation of the Technical Working Group on Orbital Debris Protocols.
The Philippines also continues to participate to the best of our ability in the important initiatives of this Committee such as the Space2030 Agenda and the Working Groups on the Long-Term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities and on the Legal Aspects of Space Resource Activities. These initiatives provide much needed guidance and a venue to know developments and exchange up-to-date information regarding the conduct of space activities as the space environment continues to rapidly grow and evolve.
We are also grateful for the efforts of the UNOOSA in ensuring that developing countries are able to contribute and participate in space-related activities. The Philippines has recently participated in the Asia Pacific Technical Advisory Mission of the Space Law for New Space Actors Programme of UNOOSA and the Government of Japan which provided much needed training for our new space law and space policy practitioners. PhilSA is currently arranging the visit of the Technical Advisory Mission to the Philippines to take the capacity-building activities that have already been initiated a step further.
On a regional level, the Philippines continues to participate in the Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF) and the Regional Space Applications Programme (RESAP) of the UNESCAP. Both of these platforms provide an opportunity for exchange in the scientific, technical, and policy levels as well as international cooperation opportunities that help bolster our capability in ensuring the sustainability of the outer space environment and of space activities.
These are all initiatives that assist developing countries like the Philippines in contributing to ensuring and enabling a sustainable space environment. In this regard, we would like to reiterate our call to continue our dialogue and cooperate in building opportunities that will strengthen our capabilities and raise awareness and support for this significant agenda on long-term sustainability of outer space activities.
Thank you very much and a good day to all!