The UAE Space Agency… An Inspiring Journey Towards Achieving Sustainability at COP28

Through its exceptional leadership, the UAE Space Agency succeeded in leading the first Space Pavilion in the 28th Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP 28), which was held from 30 November to 12 December, 2023, at Expo Dubai. Held under the slogan ‘Space for Sustainability’, the Space Pavilion attracted wide local, regional, and international participation, and highlighted the UAE’s unwavering potential in promoting progress and international cooperation through a series of pioneering recommendations and initiatives. These recommendations support building a more sustainable and prosperous future for generations to come.

The 13-day conference witnessed inspiring leadership, pioneering events, fruitful workshops, eye-opening discussions, and strategic partnerships. With a futuristic vision in line with the UAE leadership’s goals, the UAE Space Agency succeeded in spreading awareness on the role of space in achieving sustainable development goals and addressing major global challenges.

During the conference, the UAE Space Agency signed a series of Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with leading international space agencies. These MoUs underline the UAE’s commitment to boosting international cooperation in space to confront global environmental and climate challenges. These agreements were made with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which aims to use remote sensing technologies and satellite data to monitor climate changes, Milo Space Science Institute at Arizona State University, and the Rwandan Space Agency.

Furthermore, the UAE Space Agency announced the launch of the operational phase of the Space Data Center’s Geo-Spatial Analytics Platform, on the sidelines of its leadership in organising the Space Pavilion’s first participation at COP28. The platform includes three services: obtaining space images through international space agencies and a number of world-leading private companies, obtaining software and algorithms based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) to analyse satellite images, and a marketing platform for space services and applications.

The UAE Space Agency also organised Hack4Climate: Space for Sustainability, which attracted more than 50 experts, programmers, and researchers, and witnessed exceptional effort and dedication from participants over the course of 4 days. The participating teams reviewed 9 solutions on the final day of the hackathon to the challenges of monitoring and tracking water pollution as a result of oil spills, monitoring air quality by monitoring NO2, reducing loss and damage as a result of forest fires, monitoring flood conditions, providing guidance to rescue teams, and monitoring vegetation to combat climate change.

Additionally, the UAE Space Agency highlighted the Geo-Spatial Analytics Platform, and the results of the Space Analytics and Solutions (SAS) Program. This included food security, in cooperation with Planet Labs, and Greenhouse Gases (GHG), in partnership with Farmin, which constitute innovative systems to meet global sustainability challenges and develop applications in the field of Earth observation and remote sensing. The UAE Space Agency also presented a loss and damage atlas in cooperation with Planet Labs.

Giving presentation by UAESA Team at Space Pavilion

Stemming from the UAE Space Agency’s belief in the importance of dialogue, the Space Pavilion hosted more than 60 panel discussions, sessions, and seminars with the participation of an elite group of speakers, specialists, space agencies, international organisations, and decision-makers. The Space Agencies Leaders’ Summit ended with a Space Sector Pledge for Enhancing Space-Based Climate Initiatives to transform and accelerate climate action through financing climate programs and strengthening climate research to meet the commitments the world has made in the Paris Agreement in 2015. This created a collective commitment to support efforts to address climate change, enhance the exchange of scientific data and climate research, promote sustainable space activities, and finance space-climate programs.

All in all, these inspiring milestones underscore the UAE’s strategy and vision to foster innovation and international cooperation by investing in the future and combating global challenges with innovative solutions.