Allow me to take you through a remarkable day that brought together Earth, space, sustainability, and royalty in a most impressive event.
I began my day at the prestigious Royal Astronomical Society, where I was honoured to attend the Global Leaders on Space Sustainability Symposium. The Earth and Space Sustainability Initiative (ESSI) was the focus of the day’s events.
ESSI is a pivotal development for the space community. Signed by over 120 space organisations globally, it received a royal endorsement from King Charles III himself.
The ESSI involves the creation of a set of industry-led space sustainability principles and has also garnered support from governments. Drawing inspiration from terrestrial Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) values, ESSI applies these principles to the entire space ecosystem. By doing so, it ensures that space activities are conducted responsibly, while considering their environmental and social impacts. In essence, ESSI seeks to guarantee that all of humanity can continue to use outer space for peaceful purposes and socio-economic benefits, now and in the future.
Prior to the official start of the symposium a small group of us took place in a round table discussion, with prominent figures from the UK Space sector, corporate investors, leading researchers, and representatives from insurance companies. The bound signatures were ceremoniously presented to Science Minister George Freeman at the beginning of the meeting.
George Freeman initiated the meeting by highlighting the importance of space sustainability for the UK and its significance on the global stage. Subsequently, Joanne Wheeler, a driving force behind ESSI, presented the process and major findings, with contributors including myself providing insights into why we support and contribute to ESSI. My presentation stressed that the space ecosystem must continually evaluate its impacts, from tracking critical minerals in satellites to assessing the environmental and social repercussions of spaceports.
After the symposium, delegates were escorted in coaches to Buckingham Palace. As we entered, we were greeted by onlookers who took videos, perhaps curious about the event taking place inside the esteemed palace.
Once inside, we were led to an exquisite grand hall adorned with marble pillars and intricate ceiling carvings. Windows opened to a breathtaking view of the Buckingham Palace gardens.