The contribution of space for a more sustainable earth: Leveraging space to achieve the sustainable development goals

Simonetta Di Pippo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This article raises awareness of how countries can leverage space and space technologies to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through concrete examples. Space science, technology and applications can support a range of pro-developmental activities, such as agricultural planning, biodiversity protection, tele-health and disaster management. United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) helps countries to use space technology in all of these areas, through capacity building and partnerships with government and private sector entities to expand access to space, especially for developing countries. This article also outlines the work of UNOOSA in promoting increased participation of women in the space sector and in STEM careers. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the same Creative Commons licence is included and the original work is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use. This article presents the mandate of UNOOSA and its activities to improve awareness and use of space and space technologies for achieving the SDGs. This article presents examples of UNOOSA work in this respect. One example of this work is the Human Space Technology Initiative (HSTI), which aims to involve more countries in activities related to human space flight. One of the flagship HSTI activities is the KiboCUBE programme, a partnership with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) that offers institutions from developing countries the opportunity to deploy 1U (1 Unit) cube satellites from the Japanese Kibo module of the International Space Station (ISS). Other HSTI activities include the partnership between UNOOSA and the China Manned Space Agency to give countries opportunities to fly experiments onboard China's Space Station, as well as partnerships with private firms such as Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) to fly experiments onboard SNC's DreamChaser® spacecraft. Through its UN-SPIDER programme, UNOOSA helps countries use space technology (in particular satellites) to prevent and manage disasters. Through its Space for Women project, UNOOSA promotes the increased participation of women in space and STEM careers. Through increased international cooperation and partnerships, space can make a difference for achieving all the SDGs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere3
JournalGlobal Sustainability
StatePublished - 2019


  • SDGs
  • satellites
  • sdisaster management
  • space
  • space technology
  • sustainable development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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