OECD Space Forum

OECD Space Forum project on the economics of space sustainability




The OECD Space Forum is investigating the economics of space sustainability and seeks to encourage leading-edge academic research in this new domain. The OECD and 11 space agencies are offering researchers and students the opportunity to join an international project. PhD, post-doc and Master’s students as well as academic staff from universities and research organisations from around the world are invited to tackle the same research questions and join an international community of practitioners.


Project Details

While our societies rely ever-more on space applications for telecommunications, resource management, meteorology and climate monitoring, Earth’s orbits are getting more congested with thousands of satellites with growing risks linked to heavy space traffic and increasing space debris density.

At the initiative of several OECD Space Forum members, the OECD Secretariat launched in 2021 an original international project on the economics of space sustainability. The objective is to promote academic research that is thought-provoking and to ultimately provide new evidence to the global community, which will help guide future decisions on how to best leverage the benefits of the space environment for present and future generations.

Researchers in universities and research organisations from around the world have been invited to join and tackle the same research questions focusing on how to measure the costs of space debris and/or the value of space infrastructure, and then produce original research papers. After a selection of the best papers, the first key findings were published in Earth’s Orbits at Risk: The Economics of Space Sustainability (2022).

The second phase of the project added a third research question focused on the possible economic effects of policy options for addressing space debris. The results will be published in the forthcoming report The Economics of Space Sustainability: Exploring Policy Options for Space Debris Management (2024). This original international project on the economics of space sustainability should see a third phase in 2024-25. In the meantime, a workshop is organised at OECD in December 2023 to present the preliminary findings from the overall project so far.


Save the date

Workshop, 14 December 2023, 09.30-17.00 CET

Selected findings from the project will be presented at the OECD Space Forum Workshop – The Economics of Space Sustainability: Identifying Policy Options and Assessing their Effects, taking place on 14 December 2023 at the OECD Headquarters in Paris, 09.30-17.00 CET.

The workshop will convene experts and practitioners from governments, academia and the private sector to discuss ways forward for government action. The discussions will notably focus on the economic effects of policy options, the optimal design of policy and further evidence needs, to provide concrete support for decision makers and build a future research agenda.

Session 1 presents new evidence on the cost of space debris and the value of space infrastructure. In recent years, the sustainable use of the space environment has received more attention from academia as well as industry and government stakeholders. Still, there is insufficient knowledge and awareness about the magnitude of the problem and how it can be translated into a language understandable to decision makers. The session is introduced by a keynote on the current and potential future state of the orbital environment, followed by selected findings from the OECD Project on the Economics of Space Sustainability, run jointly with NASA-funded research on the socio-economic cost of space debris.

Session 2 assesses the effects of policy options for space debris mitigation. Building on the discussions in Session 1, there is no longer a question of “if” further government action is necessary to mitigate space debris, but rather “how” it can be implemented to reach the desired environmental objectives while not curbing growth and innovation in the sector.

The session is introduced by a keynote on the observed impacts of environmental regulatory stringency on competitivity and innovation in the broader economy, followed by findings from the OECD Project on the Economics of Space Debris and NASA-funded research on the effects of different types of policy options to mitigate space debris.

The workshop ends with an expert panel discussion between operators and government agencies. Key questions to be addressed:

  • Which key aspects of policies and regulations do we need to “get right” (or not get wrong)?
  • How can we define and track “successful” regulation and implementation?
  • Who could be the biggest commercial winners and losers of a more stringent regulatory regime in the OECD area?
  • Do we have enough governance structures (industry associations, coalition of countries, new global initiatives) at national and international levels to monitor and enforce space debris mitigation measures and what do they need to better function?

> To register for this workshop, please click here.

> Agenda

9h30-10h00 CET Welcome coffee
10.00 CET Welcoming remarks by Claire Jolly (Head, OECD Space Forum, Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation)
10.10 CET Introduction to the OECD project on the Economics of Space Sustainability (Marit Undseth, Policy Analyst, OECD Space Forum, Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation)
10.40-12.30 CET Session 1:New evidence on the cost of space debris and the value of space infrastructure
  • 10.20 CET: Keynote by Stijn Lemmens (senior space debris analyst, European Space Agency): What is the likelihood and timeline for Kessler’s Syndrome?
  • 10.40-12.30 CET: Selected teams of researchers present key results from their work.
  • Chan Hee Lee (Seoul National University): Valuing the cost of space debris – Estimating the loss of satellites in low-earth orbit
  • Alessandro Paravano (Polytechnic University of Milan): Investigating value mechanisms of satellite-based infrastructure in the “new space” economy (online)
  • Richard Linares (Massachusetts Institute of Technology): Adaptive space governance and decision-support using source-sink evolutionary environmental models
  • Gelsomina Catalano (Centre for Industrial Studies, University of Milan): The socio-economic benefits of earth observation (EO): insights from the final users of EO services and applications in Italy (online)
  • Yui Nakama (University of Tokyo): Space mission assurance or critical infrastructure protection? Japan’s approach to the preservation of vital space assets
12.30-14.00 CET Lunch break
14.00-17.00 CET Session 2:Assessing the effects of policy options for space debris mitigation
  • 14.00 CET: Keynote by Antoine Dechezleprêtre (senior economist, OECD): The effects of environmental regulation on innovation and competitivity in the OECD area
  • 14.15-15.30 CET: Selected academic findings
  • Erika Scuderi (Vienna University of Economics and Business): The use of fiscal measures for addressing space debris
  • Xiao-Shan Yap (EPFL): Addressing earth-space sustainability: An analysis of policy options for satellite infrastructures under three scenarios by 2030
  • Marek Ziebart (University College London): Sustainable space as the 18th Sustainable Development Goal
  • Daniel Kaffine (University of Colorado (Boulder): An integrated assessment model for satellites and orbital debris (online)
15.30-15.45 CET Networking break
15.45-16.50 CET

Panel discussion: Industry and government perspectives on policies and regulations to improve space sustainability

Panel participants:

  • Morgane Lecas (Astroscale)
  • Rodolphe Muñoz (European Commission)
  • James Cemmell (Inmarsat/Viasat)
  • Patrick Besha (NASA) (online)
  • Brian Weeden (Secure World Foundation)
  • Wladimir Boquet (Spire)
16.50-17:00 CET Closing remarks and next steps


Further Reading


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