Overcrowding in space: the need for regulation
On the other hand, diplomacy is a quest for order in a disordered world. Any disruption that promotes disorder, any deviation from established practices, is frowned upon. Unmanaged change is not easy for us to digest. So, as a diplomat, I find it hard to identify with the geospatial community, which is always looking for change.
Today, the reality on the ground has changed. You can see the pace at which we are moving forward, the pace at which fundamental changes are occurring. What we are seeing is extraordinary change taking place in multiple spheres – economic, technological, environmental and social. Some have even called it the era of mega-change.
In an interconnected world, change has cross-border impact. Not only satellites, but also viruses cross borders and affect people all over the world. Today, the boundaries between internal, external, national and foreign entities are blurring. Those moving up the ranks are jostling for space, leading to geopolitical shifts. For example, China is not the only rising power in Asia, there are others too – India, ASEAN, South Korea and many more. All these simultaneous “rises” jostle for space.
If we look at the geopolitical changes that have taken place in recent decades, the combined world economic share of OECD countries has fallen to less than 50% – while China has become the largest trading partner of 110 countries, in addition to being the largest provider of aid or loans to 145 countries. The country has an operational triad. It plans to increase its nuclear missile capacity from about 270 warheads to 1,000, or almost three and a half times. He conducted hypersonic weapons testing this year – some are calling it the new Sputnik moment. China has successfully launched 80 satellites since January 2020, amid the ongoing battle against COVID-19.
If the old order has given way and the new is on the anvil, then obviously we need a new order-building exercise. And it’s not just in one area. Many believe that change must be integrated from trade to mobility, from public health to climate, from cyberspace to outer space and from security to cybersecurity.