Ethics of a Planetary Sustainability

SDG18.SPACE Workshop

Friday 4/3/22 14-17:30 CET online. No registration required. Zoom link below.

The UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity, strengthening universal peace in partnership for 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They comprise almost every important aspect of modern civilization, including sustainability goals for life on Earth, life below water and climate action. One dimension of modern civilization is, however, missing: the use of outer space. The pristine night sky fascinated humankind forever, and in modern times, humans are setting out for the stars. Earth’s space environment is being used more and more intensively, and space debris is accumulating. Several countries even want to return to the Moon, and this time plan to use its resources. How can we reach for the stars in a sustainable way? How can we link the issues of sustainable space use with the environmental debate here on Earth? This workshop will discuss how an 18th Sustainable Development Goal for our space environment could look like.

Zoom link:


14:00 Opening Statements                                                                                                                    

[1a] UNIBE/UZH, Andreas Losch
[1b] UNIBE, Mathias Wirth

14:10 The SDG concept (Moderation: Andreas Losch)                                                                  

[2a] The Sustainable Development Goals – Introductory remarks on their origin, their vision and their challenges, Christian Berg                                                                     

[2b] An 18th SDG for Space? Opportunities and challenges from the perspective of Earth-Space sustainability, Xiao-Shan Yap      

15:00 Coffee break                                                                                                                                           

15:15 An 18th SDG related to space (Moderation: André Galli)                                                 

[3a] The need of an 18th SDG, Andreas Losch                                                                     

[3b] Keynote Elements of an 18th SDG, Thomas Schildknecht                                       

16:25 Coffee break                                                                                                                                     

16:40 Panel discussion: Way forward (Moderation: Natália Archinard)                                     
Participants: Thomas Schildknecht, Christian Berg, Emmanuelle David

17:30 Finish      


For financing the workshop, its evaluation and related research, sponsors and donations are much welcome.

Speakers, Panelists & Moderators

Prof. Dr. Christian Berg
has extensive professional experience as sustainability lecturer and keynote speaker for (corporate) sustainability. Among others, he worked as Chief Sustainability Architect at SAP and led the task for Sustainable economic activity and growth within German Chancellor Merkel’s future dialogue. His book “Sustainable Action. Overcoming the Barriers” was accepted as the new report to the Club of Rome. Therein he gives a comprehensive account of barriers to sustainability and suggests action principles for sustainability which support actors in contributing to the realization of the SDGs. He holds degrees in physics, philosophy, theology and engineering. For more information, please see or visit his profile on LinkedIn.

Talk: The Sustainable Development Goals – Introductory remarks on their origin, their vision and their challenges
The 2030 Agenda, adopted in September 2015 by the UN General Assembly, is an important milestone in humanity’s endeavour for sustainability. Containing seventeen sustainable development goals (SDGs)  and 169 targets, it is much more specific than the Rio Declaration and the Agenda 21 from 1992, and can be considered as humanity’s most ambitious plan for the future of humankind. The talk will briefly allude to the historic context leading to their adoption and point to challenges and open questions related to their concept and their implementation.

Dr. Xiao-Shan Yap

is Research Scientist at Eawag in Switzerland and (guest) Assistant Professor at Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University in the Netherlands. Yap is pioneering a scientific research agenda on Earth-Space Sustainability to specify opportunities and challenges for a sustainable planetary future as anthropogenic activities expand further into the frontier of outer space. Trained as a development economist, she is now an interdisciplinary social scientist with experience across different complex technology systems and cleantech sectors.

In 2020, Yap founded the Earth-Space Sustainability research initiative aiming at ensuring a sustainable and functional Earth-Space system. Yap is also a senior Steering Group member of the international Sustainability Transitions Research Network (STRN), a Research Fellow of the global research alliance Earth System Governance Project, a member of the Ostrom Workshop Space Governance Working Group, and co-chair of Commons in Space conference 2022.

Talk: An 18th SDG for Space? Opportunities and challenges from the perspective of Earth-Space sustainability

Sustainability challenges on Earth and in Space are becoming more intertwined than ever. Space-based technologies and services may become the next-generation infrastructures that accelerate sustainable development on Earth, but the space environment is itself confronted with rising anthropogenic challenges. Drawing from some recent research on the long-term development of space-based infrastructures, this talk will provide preliminary insights on the opportunities and challenges to policymaking in view of a potential SDG for Space.  

PD Dr. Andreas Losch, MBA
is an award-winning theologian, specializing in the dialog with the sciences and with philosophy. He was managing editor of the Martin Buber edition, coordinated the project “Life beyond our planet?” at the Center for Space and Habitability (CSH) Bern and works as researcher affiliated with the Theological Faculty of the University of Bern on „Ethics of Planetary Sustainability“. As such he was active participant of the UNISPACE+50 preparatory event.

Losch is also Lecturer at the University of Zurich and member of its Space Hub, Research Associate at the University of Pretoria and a member of the Center of Theological Inquiry (CTI), Princeton, New Jersey. He serves on the council of the European Society for the Study of Science and Theology (ESSSAT) and on the board of trustees of the Karl Heim Society.

Talk: The Need of an 18th SDG

Prof. Dr. Thomas Schildknecht
is a leading expert on space debris, space safety and space sustainability. Under his leadership for more than 25 years, his research group has acquired a World-class expertise in the observation and the characterization of space debris. He is the Director of the Swiss Optical Ground Station and Geodynamics Observatory Zimmerwald and the Vice-Director of the Astronomical Institute of the University of Berne (AIUB), Switzerland. At both, national and global level, he has served and continues to serve in numerous technical and policy-making committees. He is a member of the Swiss delegation at UNCOPUOS and substantially contributed to the work of its working group on long-term sustainability of outer space activities. At ESA he is currently the Chair of the ESA Space Safety Advisory Group advising the ESA Director responsible for the space safety programme.

Talk: Elements of an 18th SDG

The presentation will provide a short introduction into the problem of space debris, followed by a summary of the main technical challenges related to the long-term sustainable use of outer space. I will then quickly review the COPUOS LTS guidelines and use them as a baseline for the discussion of how an 18th Sustainable Development Goal of the outer space environment could look like.

Dr. Natália Archinard
holds the space portfolio at the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland. She has been leading the Swiss delegation to the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) for 15 years and served as the Chair of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of COPUOS for the period 2020-2021. Ms Archinard has been representing the Swiss government in multilateral negotiations on space security and sustainability-related initiatives, including the development of the Guidelines on the Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities within COPUOS and the draft International Code of Conduct proposed by the European Union in 2012-2015. She is member of the Swiss delegations to the European Space Agency (ESA), including at ministerial level, and to the United Nations General Assembly 1st and 4th Committees. At national level, she is involved in the design and the implementation of the Swiss space policy. Dr Archinard was educated in mathematics at the University of Geneva and obtained her PhD from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich in 2000.

Dr. Archinard will moderate the closing panel.

PD Dr. André Galli
received a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Bern in 2008. After a period as an engineer and technology consultant and his post-doctoral period at the Netherlands Institute for Space Research, he rejoined in 2012 the University of Bern as a scientist. His research topics cover a broad range from laboratory experiments in the context of icy surfaces in the solar system, data analysis for space missions (Mars Express, Venus Express, IBEX, Rosetta), to project science and management for upcoming space missions (JUICE and IMAP in particular).

Ms. Emmanuelle David
is the executive manager of the EPFL Space Center
(eSpace) at the Swiss Insitute of Technlogy in Lausanne. ESpace is an interdisciplinary unit responsible for the federation of space activities at the school, which hosts a research initiative on sustainable space logistics and the Space Sustainability Rating.
Emmanuelle has 10 years’ experience in space transportation in academia, agency and industry from pre-development projects up to launch operations. She holds Space Engineering degrees both from the University of Technology of Compiegne, France, and the Technical University of Braunschweig, Germany. She has completed in 2021 a certificate of advanced studies at the Swiss Institute of Technology in Zürich in Technology and Public Policy : Policy Process.