While space issues are not new to the World Economic Forum, the Global Risks Report 2022 edition devotes one of seven chapters specifically to the issue of “Crowding and Competition in Space.”
For those in the space sector the contents of the report on the issue of “Crowding and Competition in Space” should not come as a surprise. It’s been discussed at length at conferences for at least five years now. The issues raised though still need to be addressed in a meaningful way.
Some of the points the report makes include:
- Some governments are encouraging private space activity to further national “territorial” claims or to foster the development of high-value jobs, especially in the zone of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) or Medium Earth Orbit (MEO), as well as enhancing their military or defence- oriented presence.
- Space programmes are still widely seen as a sign of national prestige, as they project geopolitical and military power as well as have scientific and commercial significance. Powers such as China, Europe (EU and ESA), France, Germany, India, Japan, NATO, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States have publicly announced space forces and continue to build space infrastructure, with plans for at least five new space stations by 2030 in the works.
- Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), governs much of the activity taking place in space. However, few effective governance tools have emerged in recent years to reflect new realities, such as the pressing need for an authority to govern satellite launches and servicing, space traffic control and common enforcement principles.
- Space situational awareness, space traffic management and debris mitigation are areas in which norms-based and eventually formal international agreements would benefit all actors. Critically, and like other realms where technology is developing at a faster pace than its regulation, bringing private sector actors into the agreement processes will help ensure that such pacts reflect both commercial and technical realities.
Read or download the report below.