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Istanbul Declaration

The conference declares that:

a) Achievements aimed at bridging the "digital divide" and providing universal access have been accomplished in the telecommunication sector since the second World Telecommunication Development Conference in 1998. The implementation of the Buenos Aires and Valletta Action Plans has been largely successful thanks to the collaborative efforts of all parties involved. It is noteworthy that the key to this success has been the considerable effort made by the countries themselves and the catalytic inputs of their development partners, including public, private and intergovernmental organizations. The ITU-D study groups have also made a significant contribution to the body of knowledge which has been placed at the disposal of the telecommunication community.

The successes of the past are a great encouragement to all interested parties in the sector to sustain these efforts in the upcoming period from 2003 to 2007. These initiatives will be a key factor for the success of the Istanbul Action Plan.

b) The "digital divide" needs to be reduced and this brings opportunities to countries, not only to narrow it, but also to create conditions to derive maximum benefit from the implementation of new services and applications in order to accelerate overall development.

New technologies have a significant impact on the expansion of telecommunications and have the potential to close the gap not only between developing and developed countries but also between urban and rural areas and between well-served and underserved areas within a country.

The emergence of a conducive environment and entrepreneurial approaches to providing a rural service, and more cost-effective technologies, may provide an opportunity for more rapid deployment of telecommunication services in rural and remote areas.

The global information infrastructure (GII) and the global information society (GIS) are evolving and should be responsive to the interests of all nations, especially the developing and least developed countries.

Opportunities offered by modern technologies should be fully exploited with the aim of fostering sustainable development through research, development and innovative technological applications for the promotion of quality and a higher standard of living.

d) Telecommunications is an essential component of political, economic, social and cultural development. It fuels the global society and economy and is rapidly transforming our lives and promoting better understanding among peoples. It also plays an important role in poverty alleviation, in environmental protection and in the mitigation of natural and other disasters. All interested parties are urged to make their contribution to extend these benefits to all peoples.

The convergence of telecommunications, computing and information and multimedia applications is opening up new perspectives for the sector, providing opportunities for e-learning, e-health, e-government, e-commerce, environmental protection, post-war reconstruction and many other applications which are highly beneficial for social, cultural and economic development.

Universal access to ICTs is widely viewed as a key to economic prosperity. Telecommunication and information services permit interaction and knowledge, contributing to greater economic activity, higher productivity and ultimately general welfare. Community access to ICTs is seen as one of the most appropriate ways of achieving universal access in many developing countries.

f) Sector reforms leading to greater private sector participation and competition are forces shaping the development of telecommunications. These challenges of the information society and the new trade environment place even greater pressure on policy-makers, regulators and operators to acquire the necessary skills to manage the evolving ICT environment.

Governments play a key role in development of telecommunications, and are urged to establish an enabling environment which promotes reasonable and affordable access to basic telecommunication services for all.

Such an environment should also create a stable and transparent framework and promote fair competition, while protecting network integrity and guaranteeing the rights of users, operators and investors. Policies and strategies for the development of telecommunications should reflect the trend towards multiservices utilizing a common infrastructure platform.

h) ITU and ITU-D have a special role to play in strengthening communication channels, by ensuring effective coordination with other international, regional and sub regional organizations, and other entities engaged in activities related to development of ICTs and services, in order to create a proper framework needed in the application and development of services and applications, ensuring that ITU and ITU's role and mission are understood.
i) BDT should sustain the current momentum of promoting and enhancing the participation of the private sector in the activities of ITU-D, and it should continue to coordinate and facilitate the creation of partnerships between governments and private enterprises and between the private enterprises in developed countries and those in developing countries.
j) Global, regional and national financing and investment institutions are urged to attach high priority to the growth of telecommunications, particularly in developing countries. ITU should seek to establish strong relationships with those financial institutions.
k) WTDC-02 drew the attention of all ITU Member States and Sector Members to prepare for the forthcoming World Summit on the Information Society in 2003 (Geneva, Switzerland) and 2005 (Tunis, Tunisia). In this regard, the Action Plan will be an important input for the preparation of the Summit.

ITU-D should continue to support the Youth Forums and advance the interests and capabilities of youth in ICT.


The programmes summarized below, which are part of the Istanbul Action Plan, developed in a spirit of encouraging awareness and actions on gender issues and implemented under the leadership and coordination of ITU-D, become important and relevant tools for narrowing the "digital divide":

  • Regulatory reform: Develop and implement policies, legislation and regulations aimed at sustained development, access and use of telecommunications, including broadcasting, and information and communication technologies (ICT).
  • Technologies and telecommunication/ICT network development: Maximize the utilization of appropriate new technologies in the development of telecommunication/information and communication technology (ICT) networks.
  • E-strategies and e-services/applications: Use of ICTs and telecommunication networks to enhance access and use of secure, cost-effective and socio-economically beneficial value-added ICT services to ensure sustainability and affordability in the development of telecommunications and ICTs and to harness the potential of ICTs to contribute towards reducing the social divide, improving quality of life, good governance, better access to health services, distance learning and universal access, taking into account the requirements and conditions in rural areas and underserved communities, the potential of multipurpose community telecentres (MCT) and Internet protocol (IP) for the delivery of a wide range of services.
  • Economics and finance, including costs and tariffs: Develop and implement financing policies and strategies appropriate to the economic situation, including cost-orientated pricing, with a view to fostering equitable and affordable access to innovative and sustainable services.
  • Human capacity building: Strengthen the human, institutional and organizational capacity through human resource management and development activities, so as to facilitate a smooth transition to the current telecommunication and ICT environment.

As a result of the deliberations of WTDC-02 - mainly those reflected in the ITU Istanbul Action Plan - it is expected that all humanity, and in particular LDCs, will strongly benefit from information and communication technology services and applications, transforming today's "digital divide" into a veritable "DIGITAL OPPORTUNITY".


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Updated : 2002-05-21