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At its Fifty-ninth Session in June 2016, the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space endorsed seven thematic priorities for the implementation of UNISPACE+50, including "Capacity-building for the twenty-first century" (Thematic Priority 7 of UNISPACE+50, TP7) which is the most cross-cutting aspect of the initiative. Member States seek to define new innovative and effective approaches to overall capacity-building and development needs as a fundamental pillar of global space governance
The Symposium will build around innovative approaches to capacity-building in the space sector, including the need to measure progress and development. The determination of the long term impact of an activity can be a challenging task but can be overcome by creating a set of standardized set of Space Capabilities indicators covering all space related domains and applications and will provide orientation to countries in the evaluation of their capabilities and their prioritization. Therefore, this set of indicators becomes a key decision support tool for countries in space related matters. It could also serve the Office for Outer Space Affairs to measure the impact of its activities and can help propose targeted initiatives by identifying gaps or areas of improvement.
Based on the 2016 United Nations/International Astronautical Federation Workshop on Space Technology for Socioeconomic Benefits: Integrated Space Technologies and Applications for a Better Society in Guadalajara, Mexico, which recommended that the Office for Outer Space Affairs should develop a space capacity index and a space solutions compendium, the Symposium will provide a unique opportunity to discuss 'Access to Space: Holistic Capacity-Building for the 21st Century' and the contributions of space technology and its applications for sustainable development in the light of the technical, legal, political, regulatory developments.
The Office for Outer Space Affairs of the United Nations and Austria are responsible for organizing the Symposium. The European Space Agency (ESA), Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR), Joanneum Research, NPOC Space Law University of Vienna, the Graz University of Technology, Austrospace, the Municipality of Graz, the Government of Austria, the State of Styria, the Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology are supporting the Symposium.