Two prominent conferences recently took place in Brussels: EXPANDEO and the European Space Forum. Both conferences served as vital platforms for the space industry, fostering dialogue, collaboration, and innovation towards the shared goal of harnessing space technologies for broad societal benefit.
Agnieszka Lukaszczyk, Planet’s Vice President for Government Affairs for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, was an active participant in both. At EXPANDEO 2023, Agnieszka gave a speech titled “Setting the Scene – Green Deal Dialogue”, detailing the work of the EARSC Green Deal Working Group. As chair of this group, she is part of the effort to integrate space technologies into the EU Green Deal legislation.
She also joined a panel discussion during the European Space Forum, titled “Harnessing the Power of the European Space Sector to Deliver a Green Future”. This involvement signals her interest and engagement in the topic of using space technology for sustainability and achieving the EU Green Deal objectives.
Earth Observation for Supporting Life on Earth
Based in Brussels, Agnieszka represents Planet, a company with the world’s largest constellation of Earth observation satellites. “Every place on Earth is observed every day – a truly distinctive capability,” she explains. This translates into unparalleled environmental insights, helping to understand conditions and changes on Earth more effectively. The ultimate mission is to use these observations as tools to actively support and sustain life on Earth.
Barriers to Space Technology Integration: Awareness Gap
Addressing the subject of the European Green Deal and the role of space assets, Agnieszka outlined the barriers to integrating space technology towards achieving a green future. She pinpointed a lack of awareness about the capabilities of these tools as one of the obstacles. Most people, when they think about space, primarily consider it in terms of exploration and astronauts, not as a resource for monitoring environmental conditions or aiding in agriculture, disaster management, or deforestation. “As a sector, we must actively work on raising awareness and engaging with individuals beyond our group”, she said.
The Need for Long-term Vision in Leadership
There is a need for politicians and leaders who prioritise long-term environmental goals over short-term election gains and address global issues: “We’re talking about environmental biodiversity issues, climate issues. They’re all global issues, and they need a global reaction and global solution.”
Effective Communication: The Key to Space Asset Utilisation
Addressing strategies to encourage policymakers to utilise space assets, Agnieszka stressed the importance of effectively communicating the benefits of space technology in a way that is relatable and solution-oriented: “I think we need to communicate a little bit better. We need to go to these people and really speak about practical, real solutions”. The emphasis, she suggested, must be on the solutions that technology can offer, not the technology itself. For instance, if a politician is grappling with deforestation in their region, presenting them with a solution that utilises space technology to monitor and combat this issue is likely to be more appealing than a focus on the technology itself.
Leveraging Space Technology in the European Green Deal
Agnieszka argued that the European Green Deal provides an excellent opportunity to leverage space technology, as it stipulates a series of environmental goals and milestones that require measurement and tracking: “European Green Deal has all these goals, milestones that need to be achieved. And in order to achieve those, you have to be able to measure them and see the progress.” By using Earth observation technology, accurate and timely data can be acquired to evaluate progress, report on initiatives such as green agriculture, emission reductions, and deforestation, and make informed decisions.
The Necessity of Understanding and Accepting Space Technology
The conversation with Agnieszka reveals the necessity of an improved understanding and acceptance of space technology as a tool for environmental sustainability. It requires not just a shift in public and political perception, but also a commitment to promote its advantages effectively. Groundstation.space exists precisely for this purpose. It serves as an invaluable resource to illustrate the tangible benefits space technology can provide for environmental sustainability.