Insight - “Reinforcing Space Sustainability through Corporate Performance” at the Summit for Space Sustainability

Thursday, June 8, 2023

The 5th Summit for Space Sustainability taking place in New York City is now less than one week away! This milestone event will host a unique gathering of global stakeholders from government, industry, and civil society. It will feature keynotes, interactive sessions, panels, and networking designed to highlight opportunities and challenges for developing solutions for space sustainability. The event will focus on several critical themes, including reinforcing space sustainability through corporate performance, strengthening space governance, and building a sustainable cislunar space economy. In the lead-up to this event, Secure World Foundation is sharing short topic previews, providing context and probing questions which will be expanded upon at the conference. This piece provides a preview of our third theme: reinforcing sustainability through corporate performance and strategy.

Today the majority of spacecraft in orbit are operated by the private sector – not by governments – as the space domain becomes increasingly characterized by commercial activity.  Investors – and public markets – are only just beginning to understand the true nature of the space market. As with any growth sector, this trend toward privatization calls into question both economic and environmental sustainability. Growing a space economy will be easier if the environment is stable. There is a need to think and operate intentionally concerning the impact of space activities for all stakeholders, while at the same time delivering business results for shareholders, investors, and those who rely on space services. Risks to space sustainability are also business risks, with the potential to impact the near and long-term returns from space-sector investments. 

These trends have resulted in a growing conversation about – and commitments to – space sustainability in the space industry. At the 5th Summit for Space Sustainability, discussion will focus on how corporate strategy and implication can be used to deliver performance both for space sustainability objectives and business growth. 

As a way to manage and communicate space sustainability risks, the principles of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) management, are being translated to space activities. The ESG Innnnn Spaaaace panel session will assess the relevance and application of ESG principles to the space sector, both as a motivator for incoming investment and as a corporate strategy tool to address sustainability challenges. It will discuss both how space companies are implementing ESG practices and how space can help with ESG performance in terrestrial industries. The session will ask: is ESG a meaningful way to address both value and performance in space sustainability, or is it performative without impact?

The space operators applying ESG to the space sector aren’t the only elements of the commercial space ecosystem that can be involved in addressing space sustainability challenges. The 5th Summit for Space Sustainability includes a session, modeled after start-up pitch competitions, in which speakers will pitch the potential roles various particular elements of the commercial economy could play in addressing space sustainability challenges. Topics to be addressed in the Pitch Session: How Can We Enable Space Sustainability include:

  • Insurance 
  • Responsible venture capital
  • Voluntary standards and certifications
  • Circular economy
  • Terrestrial industries & space sustainability

Guest judges will be asked to react to the pitches and question the speakers - while the audience will participate by polling - building engagement into that evening’s networking reception. 

These sessions linked to the theme of reinforcing space sustainability through corporate performance provide an opportunity for participants in the 5th Summit for Space Sustainability to engage and help develop solutions that enhance space sustainability. You will be able to connect with experts from around the globe to ask questions, have insightful conversations, and take steps towards the long-term sustainable use of space on this and many other space sustainability topics. Additionally, there is a registration discount for young professionals as part of our commitment to shoring up the next generation’s awareness of space sustainability issues. Learn more about the conference and register here!

Last updated on June 30, 2023