European Global Navigation Satellite System and Copernicus: Supporting the Sustainable Development Goals

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development came into effect on 1 January 2016. The Agenda is anchored around 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which set the targets to be fulfilled by all governments by 2030. The demanding Goals set out by this Agenda cannot be reached without a concerted effort on the part of institutions and will require the use of the right tools. In SDG 17, the Agenda itself stresses the need for partnerships to reach its Goals.

Partnerships are key to achieving the SDGs, especially at a time when we frequently hear the phrase “you have to do more with less” which, by definition, requires innovation and new approaches. However, the use of this phrase also emphasizes that we should make better use of the resources we have. So, in reality, “do more with less” can be interpreted as “improve, optimize, find synergies”, as with the SDGs. We have one planet, and we have to optimize and improve how we use its resources.

Space has been used as a tool for humankind for over 50 years already; it is not new to the area of development and is a critical resource for developed nations. However, there is room for improvement, particularly through partnerships that have a multiplier effect on the use of space tools. This report shows clearly that the two European flagship projects are capable of great achievements separately, but it is through synergies that their true potential is unleashed. The same is true for other satellite systems used around the world. The best results will be achieved when telecommunications, global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) and Earth observation (EO) satellites and services collaborate to achieve common goals and meet clear user requirements.

Although all the SDGs can benefit from the contribution of space, not all the systems have equal capabilities or equal focus. This brochure expresses the contribution of the two European flagship space projects to the SDGs. The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs is putting together a global partnership for the SDGs as a mechanism where different actors can express their needs, develop their systems and set up services that will result in worldwide collaboration in the monitoring and achievement of the SDGs for the benefit of humankind.