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What is the GEGSLA?
The near future will see a multitude of lunar missions through the efforts of both space agencies and commercial stakeholders. The current lack of coordination mechanisms for lunar activities presents a serious challenge to future missions and could lead to dangerous conflicts, especially in light of the increased global interest in specific areas like the lunar south pole. The need to preserve the peaceful uses of space, together with the desire to begin a new era of sustainable space exploration, urges the development of a common level playing field for upcoming lunar activities.
A number of issues must be addressed to ensure sustainable lunar exploration and settlement in and around the Moon, including, for example, mitigating the creation of debris in lunar orbit, defining standards to enable interoperability, and regulating access to natural resources.
In 2019, the Moon Village Association (MVA) created an international platform to address these critical issues with the goal of de-risking future lunar missions and increasing global cooperation for lunar exploration and settlement. The initial work of the MVA resulted in the publication of the first edition of its Best Practices for Sustainable Lunar Activities on 5 March 2020 for public consultation. The MVA hosted several public webinars, as well as informal discussions with experts from space agencies from all continents. These consultations resulted in the publication of the second edition of the Best Practices on 19 October 2020. This document will evolve in the future and is intended as an input for further elaboration. The current version of the Best Practices is available at https://moonvillageassociation.org/best-practices-for-sustainable-lunar-activities-issue-1/
The positive feedback received on the Best Practices from several space agencies has encouraged the MVA to continue its endeavors to foster an appropriate platform for a global discussion on sustainable lunar activities. Therefore, the MVA has decided to promote the development of a neutral forum for multi-stakeholder discussions on lunar exploration: the Global Expert Group on Sustainable Lunar Activities (or GEGSLA).
The goals of the GEGSLA are to prepare materials (described more fully below) that will be submitted to the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Use of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS), where the MVA has permanent observer status, to support the Committee’s discussions and deliberations on critical issues surrounding increased lunar activity.
In order to achieve its goals, the Group intends to:
- Leverage contributions from major stakeholders of the space community, including space agencies, private companies, academia, and international organizations.
- Involve the public by promoting outreach efforts regarding the activities of the Group through the involvement of local actors at the global level.
- Serve as a platform to exchange information and views within the space community on key issues for the peaceful and sustainable conduct of lunar activities.
- Support complementary activities, within UNCOPUOS or other international fora, for the development of an international framework regulating space resources utilization.