MANILA/VIENNA, 04 JUNE 2021 – The Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) and United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) have signed an agreement on space cooperation to strengthen the institutions’ shared commitment to the peaceful uses of outer space.
Signed by PhilSA Director General Joel Marciano Jr. and UNOOSA Director Simonetta di Pippo, the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will provide a framework for cooperation between the two parties to collaborate on various strategic areas, initiatives, and activities related to space science, technology, policy, law, education, and capacity-building. With the support of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the MOU is the first international agreement inked by PhilSA and aims to further the cooperation with UNOOSA in promoting the utilization of space for socio-economic and sustainable development objectives.
Under the MOU, PhilSA and UNOOSA shall explore opportunities for:
- Joint capacity-building activities at the national level to enhance the use of space science and technology for socio-economic development, particularly in line with the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals;
- Using space-based information for disaster risk reduction and emergency response through the UN Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN SPIDER) program;
- Expanding mutual collaboration on activities related to international space law; and
- Securing collaboration for joint public awareness and education outreach initiatives on the importance of space science and technology for socio-economic development.
“Our country has been a member of the UN COPUOS since 1977, and the PhilSA acknowledges the efforts of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in actively engaging international counterparts and the United Nations in space cooperation and science diplomacy over the past several decades. The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding attests to our country’s desire to become a more active participant and contributor in the family of nations united by the common ideal of promoting the peaceful uses of outer space for the benefit of all humanity,” Director General Marciano said in a statement.
The signing ceremony was held virtually on 04 June 2021, Friday, at 1600 Philippine Standard Time (PhST) / 1000 AM Central European Time (CET).
The MOU signing is considered as an official side event of the 60th Session of the Legal Subcommittee (LSC) of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUOS) that is currently being held in hybrid format from 31 May to 11 June 2021.
Space and Climate Change
Among the areas of cooperation is to strengthen collaboration on the use of space-based information in disaster management and disaster response.
Director Di Pippo underscored the importance of space in tackling these challenges: “There is a trend for disasters to be more and more difficult to handle, so we are also working on activities related to disasters but mainly relating to climate. [This also] means dealing with mitigation, adaptation, and trying to monitor the essential climate variables. We want to put space in the center. There are 54 essential climate variables and more than half of these can only be monitored from space. So we understand how space is becoming mandatory for everyone to consider in any decision and policy making process in any country, otherwise we cannot tackle the climate crisis properly.”
Director General Marciano pointed out that the Philippines is already taking advantage of the mechanisms available through the UN SPIDER program, and the partnership between UNOOSA and PhilSA enhances this. “This partnership focuses on building further capabilities in-country to process, add value, and gain insights from spaceborne data so that actionable information can be in the hands of decision makers and emergency responders without delay,” he added.
As the UN body dedicated to outer space, the UNOOSA serves as the Secretariat to the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUOS). UNOOSA is instrumental in assisting the United Nations Member States to strengthen their capacities in the use of space science technology and applications for socio-economic development.
The Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) was created by virtue of Republic Act 11363, “The Philippine Space Act”, which was enacted into law on 08 August 2019. With its mandate as the primary policy, planning, coordinating, implementing, and administrative entity of the Executive Branch of the government that will plan, develop, and promote the national space program, it is the central government agency addressing all national issues and activities related to space science and technology applications (SSTA). The Agency is directly attached to the Office of the President, which facilitates the promulgation of executive and administrative orders and formulation of regulatory and legislative proposals on matters pertaining to SSTA development. The PhilSA is headed by a Director General with the rank of a Cabinet Secretary, who also serves as the Presidential Adviser on Space Matters.
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