Universiteit Leiden

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IIASL present at launch of sustainability initiative Net Zero Space

On Friday 12 November 2021, the Net Zero Space initiative was launched at the Paris Peace Forum. The International Institute of Air and Space Law (IIASL) of Leiden University is one of the first supporters of the initiative.

Activities in outer space have entered a new era of growth, creating new possibilities for human development and the protection of the Earth. However, the amount of orbital debris is increasing dangerously.

Article I of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 provides that the exploration and use of outer space are ‘the province of all [hu]mankind’. The protection of Earth’s orbital environment should be at the centre of all space activities in order to guarantee that current and future actors will continue to have access to and use of this domain. It is therefore critical to ensure the sustainable development of both public and private space activities, to protect the integrity of existing and future objects in orbit, and to maintain equitable access to outer space for all. This goal can only be achieved by international and multi-stakeholder cooperation through gathering forces from the private sector, civil society and academia, as well as public authorities and regulators. All entities operating in orbit, or contributing on Earth to space operations, have a part to play in this task. Net Zero Space calls for a global commitment of achieving sustainable use of outer space for the benefit of all humankind by 2030.

The IIASL supports the Net Zero Space Initiative by educating students and young professionals from around the world about the space law and policy aspects of debris mitigation and remediation, and encouraging and supporting them in their research on these topics.

For example, Rutwik Navalgund from India, an alumnus of the Adv. LLM in Air and Space Law at Leiden University, wrote an award winning LLM thesis on the topic "Reduce, Reuse and Recycle: An Environmental Law Approach to Long-Term Sustainability of Outer Space", whereas current PhD student Zhuang Tian from China is doing research on “The Establishment of an International Legal Regime for Debris Remediation”. The Institute will bring the Net Zero Space Initiative to the attention of the next generation of space law professionals and will continue to raise awareness on this topic and its legal and policy implications.

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