The Earth∞Space Sustainability Initiative (ESSI) has launched today at the Royal Society, London, where The Global Leaders on Space Sustainability Symposium took place.
UKspace President and Institution for Mechanical Engineers Chief Executive, Dr Alice Bunn OBE, took part in the symposium – in acknowledgement of the importance of maintaining a sustainable environment in space as well as on the earth, and recognising UK industry’s strengths in these areas.
Established with support from the UK Space Agency, ESSI is a world-leading endeavour that will develop sets of Space Sustainability Principles to facilitate the establishment of the Space Sustainability Standards. These will become the global, transparent Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) space sustainability standards, recognised by the finance and insurance communities and internationally by policy makers.
Joanne Wheeler MBE, Managing Partner of Alden Legal, has been named as ESSI’s Director. She said: “The sustainability of the Earth and space ecosystem is vital for our life on Earth. ESSI looks forward to further collaboration with the space industry, academia, the insurance and finance communities, governments and policy makers to expand on the excellent work already accomplished in a short time.”
In a world first, ESSI has already collated the world’s current space sustainability standards and guidelines, along with related finance and insurance principles and metrics. In total, these number more than a thousand documents, and will now be incorporated into a searchable and easily accessible database.
To further mark today’s launch, a Memorandum of Principles has been prepared by ESSI in consultation with space industry, academia, and the insurance and finance sectors. Signed by more than 100 organisations, the document outlines the initial set of principles that ESSI will develop into more detailed, transparent Space Sustainability Principles of responsible behaviour for outer space activities.
Dr Bunn said: “This symposium, coupled with the Memorandum of Principles, demonstrates the UK space sector’s commitment to ensuring the sustainability of our environment on earth and in space. We are developing world-leading industrial capabilities in in-orbit servicing and manufacturing – putting the UK at the forefront of the space sustainability agenda.”
ESSI’s Space Sustainability Principles will recognise the value arising from our diverse relationship with space, the Moon and other celestial bodies. This value can be scientific, economic, cultural, social and individual. These will lead to the establishment of formal standards, adopted by a recognised standards body.
A bound copy of the Memorandum of Principles was presented to Minister George Freeman of the Department for Science, Innovation & Technology at a roundtable on space sustainability he convened before the start of the Symposium. The Symposium was followed by a Space Sustainability Reception at Buckingham Palace hosted by His Majesty King Charles III.
Ian Annett, Deputy Chief Executive at the UK Space Agency, said: “Sustainable practices are crucial if we want to guarantee the safe and prosperous use of space for future generations. This is a huge priority for the UK Space Agency and today we have unveiled a set of principles to inform a new standard that will ensure space companies can put sustainability at the heart of their plans in a way that encourages investment and growth across the sector. It’s an immense privilege to be able to announce this ground-breaking step. This is a landmark moment that demonstrates the UK’s commitment to responsible activity in space, backing the government’s Plan for Space Sustainability and sending a message to the world about the importance of protecting the environment beyond our skies.”