Directors of the Bureaux,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
I am happy that Dr. Hamadoun I. Touré convened for the second time this High-Level Segment that will provide Ministers and Councillors with an opportunity to exchange views on issues of strategic importance to the Union and on emerging trends in the sector.
This year, speakers will offer their perspectives on different topics around two key main themes namely, climate change and cybersecurity.
The drum beats of communication have defined the way our societies have evolved over the ages. Today, more than ever, the technological revolution in communications and dissemination of information and knowledge has transformed our lives. Yet, there are far too many of us who are unable to share these benefits.
I am very pleased that ITU is committed to “connecting the world” and providing the benefits of information and communication technologies to the least connected regions of the world. ITU is also one of the key stakeholders in harnessing the power of the digital revolution to help realize the 2015 targets of the Millennium Development Goals aimed at eliminating poverty and achieving environmentally sound and sustainable development.
Climate change is the abiding challenge of our generation. It affects every one of us, in every walk of life, in each corner of the world. The negative impact of the financial crisis on the world economies should not undermine the major UN efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, fight against the effects of climate change and address the food crisis. In this regard, I should like to invite ITU to elaborate innovative ideas to accelerate development and growth of ICT networks and services in order to overcome the negative impact of current financial crisis. It is our moral duty to take every possible measure to halt global warming and prevent climate change. Failure to do so will have disastrous consequences for the well-being of our planet — and for our future generations.
ITU is striving to make the ICT sector climate neutral by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, developing standards and promoting e-environment applications to assist governments in mitigating climate change. ICTs offer an excellent opportunity to accelerate the shift to a low carbon global economy and, in this respect, ITU is an important stakeholder in tackling climate change. I commend the strong efforts that ITU is continuing to make in helping developing countries to mitigate the effects of climate change, including the use of emergency telecommunications and alerting systems for disaster relief and providing the necessary radio-frequency spectrum and orbit resources, such as satellites for remote sensing and climate monitoring.
Cybersecurity is the other key area of focus. In an increasingly networked society, we are dependent on reliable and robust systems to conduct our transactions in cyberspace. We must have confidence that these transactions are secure and free from incursions by predators, criminals and terrorists. We have to ensure that our government institutions, businesses, hospitals, schools and universities are secured against cyberthreats. And we have to keep a watch on our homes — and especially on our children and young adults who are among the heaviest users of the Internet. Without safeguards their precious lives are at grave risk in the vicious world of cybercriminals and paedophiles that prey on easy targets.
The World Summit on the Information Society called for strengthened action to protect children from abuse and defend their rights. And ITU, which has the mandate to build confidence and security in the use of ICTs, within the framework of its Global Cybersecurity Agenda, has picked up the gauntlet to provide online protection to children through its latest venture, the “Child Online Protection” initiative. While the virtual world has exciting possibilities for our children to nurture and grow as creative and productive adults, we must mind the pitfalls that could scar them for life. I was very pleased to learn of this initiative from Dr Touré and I believe ITU’s Child Online Protection initiative should be supported and adopted by every Member State.
I urge policy-makers and industry leaders to accelerate scientific and technical research aimed at developing technologies and standards that are required to meet the global challenges of our times.
Let us pledge to work together and support ITU in meeting our common goals.