Third Steering Committee meeting: all together, even from far away

Published on 17/07/2020
The plan was to meet in Vienna at the same time as COPUOS, but due to the health crisis, they went for a virtual discussion instead. With 34 representatives connecting simultaneously, SCO International members held their third steering committee meeting under the aegis of UNOOSA, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs. Its Director, Simonetta di Pippo, opened the session by paying tribute to the high level of engagement of this new global community. An insider's view of 18 and 19 June 2020 when, for 90 minutes each day across all continents, the partners analysed progress and planned the next steps

At the previous steering committee meeting, members had agreed on the urgency of implementing SCO-certified projects. This approach involves selecting existing scientific projects and quickly advancing them to the stage where they become operational tools.  The certification process implemented by SCO France is provided as an example: from selecting projects to promoting them, via a shared platform.

The second priority is in fact the SCO website, a shared tool for information, discussion and work. A contribution to the SCO community from CNES, the offline version - which you are currently reading - already has all its features ready and just needs to be used and updated proactively! From now on, all SCO members are welcome to post descriptions of their national initiatives and projects, and these will be officially published in September 2020.

Thirdly, Dr. Pakorn Petchprayoon, representative of GISTDA (Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency), explained the projects currently being studied by SCO Thailand: the monitoring of evaporation from crops, air quality with analysis of fine particles (PM2.5) and the monitoring of several key climate variables. All use remote sensing, combined with field measurements to make sure the models are reliable.

The crucial, final stage of this marathon called for the participants to organise themselves into working groups based around the charter, which will express the SCO's goals and the commitments that its members are undertaking to achieve them. Discussions focused on the SCO’s objectives, its beneficiaries, the role and contributions of the signatories and, finally, an evaluation of the results of the actions undertaken. All members of the steering committee will be contacted shortly as part of a search for volunteers to draft the SCO charter.

At the end of the meeting, the steering committee agreed on the following agenda:

  • September 2020: launch of an international call for projects to coincide with the United Nations General Assembly. This will be the responsibility of UNDP, UNOOSA, and also ESA to help increase its visibility. SCO France’s call for projects will be based around the French government’s environmental priorities.
  • 11 January 2021: One Planet Summit in conjunction with the World Conservation Congress in Marseille, where the first results from SCO France and SCO International will be presented.
  • The signing of the SCO charter will take place at the Paris Air Show in June 2021 at the earliest, or otherwise at the International Astronautical Congress in Dubai in November 2021.

The third steering committee meeting was organised by UNOOSA, the United Nations office responsible for promoting international cooperation in peaceful uses of outer space. As such, it serves as secretariat for COPUOS, the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, and keeps the United Nations’ record of objects launched into outer space. It carries out numerous activities and workshops around the world, providing support relating to space technology and international space law.