- Assets: $14,402,197 (2014)
- Grants Received: $3,102,903 (2014)
- Grants Awarded: $0 (2014)
Established in December 2002, the Secure World Foundation (SWF) works with governments, industry, international organizations, and civil-society groups “to develop and promote ideas and actions for international collaboration that achieve the secure, sustainable, and peaceful uses of outer space.” SWF’s primary concern is that a growing number of countries are now launching satellites into outer space for such purposes as national security, earth observation, telecommunications, navigation, and scientific exploration. As such, there is more danger than ever before that one of those satellites might collide with another, or might be struck and destroyed by one of the myriad pieces of space debris currently orbiting the Earth.
Such an occurrence, says SWF, could be misperceived (by the nation to whom the damaged satellite belongs) as the result of an aggressive attack by a rival country and thus could spark armed conflict. Further, says the Foundation, “misperceptions and mistrust with regard to military activities [via satellites] in space could serve as a catalyst for conflict in space or on Earth.”
To address these concerns, SWF, through its Space Sustainability Program, has published a booklet to inform interested parties about the growing possibility that objects in orbit may someday collide. The Foundation also seeks to promote “an understanding of the space environment, which involves knowing the exact location of space assets and space debris,” through its work as a Permanent Observer at the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its involvement with the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.
Another SWF initiative, its Space Law & Policy Program, seeks to help negotiators from nations around the world to draft “clearly formulated international agreements, laws, and codes” designed to eliminate ambiguities regarding the relative locations of orbiting satellites and of potentially destructive space debris.
Moreover, SWF’s Planetary Defense Program emphasizes the importance of finding and tracking “Potentially Hazardous Asteroids” whose “orbits cross Earth’s and have a relatively high potential of impacting Earth itself.” As SWF explains, such an impact could cause “damage ranging from destruction of an area the size of a city, to creation of tsunamis, to the extinction of almost all life on Earth.” This program also speculates about the feasibility of “missions to deflect impacting asteroids by changing their orbit, and disaster preparedness, management, and recovery on Earth to mitigate their consequences.”
SWF’s activities fall broadly under three three major headings:
- Informing: The Foundation generates research and analysis for decision-makers “to promote creation of sound policy and raise awareness of key issues that may threaten the security, sustainability and utility of outer space.”
- Facilitating: The Foundation convenes public and private meetings where stakeholders on key issues can discuss these matters.
- Promoting: When viable solutions or approaches become apparent, the Foundation “formulates and disseminates policy positions that are aligned with its vision and mission in order to move them from idea to implementation.”
SWF was originally established as an endowed, private, operating family foundation by the husband-and-wife team of Marcel Arsenault and Cynda Collins Arsenault, who together also co-founded the Arsenault Family Foundation. In addition to his foundation work, Marcel Arsenault is the president and founder of One Earth Future; he maintains a personal portfolio exceeding $200 million in commercial real-estate assets in Colorado; and he founded Mountain High Yoghurt, a highly successful brand of yogurt. SWF president Cynda Collins Arsenault, for her part, is a member of the Women’s Forum and serves as board president of the Association for Community Living. She is also part of the Women’s Donor Network and Women Moving Millions.
SWF is a member of the Peace & Security Funders Group, an association of several dozen foundations that support anti-war and environmentalist causes. In addition to its primary office in Broomfield, Colorado, SWF maintains branch offices in Washington, DC and Brussels, Belgium.