The 16th European Space Conference was held on January 23rd and 24th, 2024, in Brussels, Belgium. The conference brought together policymakers and industry leaders in the European space sector to discuss the current space landscape and its future trajectory.

One of the key topics discussed was the need for a space law that promotes safe and sustainable use of space. This law should include safety and sustainability measures, cybersecurity risk management rules, and physical protection of space assets. It will encourage climate-neutral activities and equal access to space for all. One recurrent theme was creating a genuine market for space activities. This would transform EU’s space policy vision into reality and improve the security, autonomy, and resilience of European space activities.

One of the sessions held during the conference was titled “Satellites and Earth Observation in Support of SDGs and the Green Deal”. This panel discussion, hosted by several members of our SDGs-EYES partner European Association of Remote Sensing Companies (EARSC), together with representatives of European Space Agency (ESA), European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), and the European Commission aimed to explore the critical role that satellites and Earth Observation play in supporting Sustainable Development Goals and the European Green Deal.

The discussion highlighted that satellites play a crucial role in monitoring the efficacy of EU policies, particularly in implementing the EU Green Deal. Satellite data contributes to several fields, including energy, green cities, protection of ecosystems, and monitoring greenhouse gas emissions to achieve the Paris Agreement targets.

The ESA was recognized for its growing portfolio of projects dedicated to SDGs, green transition, and resilience. ESA collaborates closely with international NGOs like WHO, FAO, UNEP, and the EO industry. The conference highlighted the Green Future Accelerator as an example of ESA’s commitment to addressing climate action through space-based initiatives. ESA also signed a Joint Initiative with DG CLIMA on Space for Climate Action, emphasizing the collaboration between space agencies and policymakers.

The conference featured insights from prominent Earth Observation experts and stakeholders, including Christoph Kautz, Simonetta Cheli, Florence Rabier, Phil Evans, Pierre Bahurel, Karen Florschütz, and Roberto Mulatti. They shared their perspectives on how EO technologies address global challenges, reaffirming the critical importance of satellite data in shaping sustainable policies.

During his keynote speech, Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius (Environment, Fisheries) underscored the integral role of Earth Observation in achieving the EU’s climate goals, stating “Earth Observation is an essential component of our European policy to preserve our planet, and its deployment shall be reinforced to achieve more in the years to come.”

Overall, the 16th European Space Conference provided a comprehensive overview of how Earth Observation technologies are integral to shaping a sustainable future and achieving ambitious climate-related goals.