The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 global objectives, adopted in 2015, designed to address the most pressing social, economic, and environmental challenges facing the world. These goals, which range from ending poverty to protecting the planet, have a target achievement date of 2030. With the growing interest and investment in the space economy, it is crucial to consider the role that the SDGs play in shaping the development of this industry. This article explores the relevance of the UN SDGs to the space economy and how the two can synergistically work together to create a more sustainable and equitable future.
United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals
The United Nations (UN) has identified 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. These goals are a call to action for all countries, organizations, and individuals to work towards a better future for all, leaving no one behind. The following lists and briefly explains each of the 17 SDGs.
- No Poverty: This goal aims to eradicate extreme poverty and reduce inequality by providing economic opportunities, access to basic services, and social protection systems.
- Zero Hunger: This goal focuses on ending hunger, improving nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture by investing in smallholder farmers and increasing food production.
- Good Health and Well-being: This goal aims to ensure universal access to healthcare services, promote mental health, and prevent and treat communicable and non-communicable diseases.
- Quality Education: This goal aims to ensure that all children have access to quality education, from primary to tertiary level, to promote lifelong learning and skills development.
- Gender Equality: This goal aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by eliminating all forms of discrimination and violence against them.
- Clean Water and Sanitation: This goal focuses on ensuring access to clean water and sanitation for all, improving water quality, and increasing water-use efficiency.
- Affordable and Clean Energy: This goal aims to ensure universal access to affordable, reliable, and modern energy sources while promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency.
- Decent Work and Economic Growth: This goal focuses on promoting sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all.
- Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure: This goal aims to promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, innovation, and infrastructure development to foster economic growth and development.
- Reduced Inequalities: This goal focuses on reducing inequalities within and among countries, by addressing discrimination and promoting policies that support social, economic, and political inclusion.
- Sustainable Cities and Communities: This goal aims to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable by promoting sustainable urbanization and infrastructure development.
- Responsible Consumption and Production: This goal focuses on promoting sustainable consumption and production patterns by reducing waste generation and promoting sustainable resource use.
- Climate Action: This goal aims to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts by increasing climate resilience, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and promoting renewable energy.
- Life Below Water: This goal focuses on conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas, and marine resources to promote marine biodiversity, fisheries, and tourism.
- Life On Land: This goal aims to protect, restore, and promote the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, forests, and biodiversity, to combat land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.
- Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions: This goal aims to promote peaceful and inclusive societies, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions.
- Partnerships for the Goals: This goal focuses on strengthening the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development, by promoting multi-stakeholder partnerships, and capacity-building.
SDGs and the Space Economy
The space economy is an expanding sector that encompasses activities related to the exploration, production, and utilization of space. This includes satellite communication, earth observation, navigation, and space tourism, among others. As the space economy continues to grow, it has the potential to contribute significantly to the achievement of the SDGs.
Climate Action (SDG 13)
One of the most significant contributions of the space economy to the SDGs is in the area of climate action. Satellite-based Earth observation systems play a crucial role in monitoring and predicting climate change. They provide essential data to inform mitigation and adaptation strategies and help track the progress of global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
No Poverty (SDG 1) and Zero Hunger (SDG 2)
The space economy can contribute to the goals of ending poverty and achieving zero hunger through the use of satellite-based technologies. Satellite imagery and remote sensing can help improve agricultural productivity by providing real-time information on soil conditions, weather patterns, and crop health. This allows farmers to optimize their resources, reduce waste, and increase yields, ultimately contributing to food security and poverty alleviation.
Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure (SDG 9)
Space technologies are a driving force for innovation and economic growth, providing opportunities for the development of new products, services, and industries. The space economy can support the creation of new jobs and contribute to the development of resilient and sustainable infrastructure, such as satellite-based communication and navigation networks.
Partnerships for the Goals (SDG 17)
The space economy inherently relies on international cooperation, as space exploration and development require the pooling of resources and expertise from different countries. This fosters partnerships between governments, private companies, and research institutions, facilitating the sharing of knowledge and technology to achieve common goals.
Space Sustainability and the SDGs
As the space economy continues to expand, it is essential to address the potential negative environmental and social impacts that may arise. Space debris, for instance, poses a threat to the long-term sustainability of space activities and the global environment. In this regard, the space economy must adopt a sustainable approach, aligned with the UN SDGs, to ensure that space remains accessible and beneficial for future generations.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the space economy are intrinsically connected, with the potential to complement each other in addressing global challenges. By leveraging the unique capabilities of space technologies and fostering international collaboration, the space economy can make a significant contribution to the achievement of the SDGs. Simultaneously, the adoption of sustainable practices within the space sector will ensure that the growth of the space economy does not come at the expense of the planet and its inhabitants.