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ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

ITU Council 2016

​Address by ​Julie Zoller​, Chairman​ of ITU Council 2016

Excellencies,
Distinguished Councilors, 
Secretary-General Mr Houlin Zhao,
Deputy Secretary-General Mr Malcolm Johnson,
Directors of the Bureaus, Mr. François Rancy, Mr. Chaesub Lee and Mr. Brahima Sanou, 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

As we begin the 2016 session of Council, I would like to thank Mr. Min for his leadership at Council 2015 and you for the confidence you have placed in me and in the vice chair of the Council, Dr Eva Spina of Italy.  You have elected us from among the 48 councilors, which is a vote of confidence for our leadership and a sign of progress for gender equality.  This is the first time that both the chair and the vice-chair of Council are women, and we are making history together.  I would especially like to thank my administration as well as my beloved region, the Americas, for your support.  

PP-14 was a watershed event for defining the strategic direction of the Union, including the ITU's role in promoting global connectivity.  It is also for the spirit of collaboration and cooperation, and of mutual respect and common purpose, that PP-14 will be remembered.  We are all grateful to the Government of the Republic of Korea and the chair of PP-14, Mr. Wonki Min, for the success of that conference.  

We are now at the midpoint between plenipotentiary conferences, and the decisions of this Council will establish the course for a number of important issues.  Last year, leaders from around the world committed to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Goals, setting us on a path to a more prosperous, equitable and sustainable world.  And the ten-year review of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) reaffirmed the WSIS vision of a people-centered, inclusive, and development-oriented information society.  

At this Council, we will ensure the ITU's contribution toward achieving the SDGs and to fulfilling the vision of WSIS and Connect 2020.  As President Obama said during adoption of the 2030 Agenda, "We recognize that our most basic bond -- our common humanity -- compels us to act."  Earlier this month at the WSIS Forum, Ambassador Sepulveda emphasized our commitment to heeding the SDG call to action by harnessing the power of ICTs through our Global Connect Initiative, which aims to catalyze the efforts of all stakeholders to bring 1.5 billion additional people online by 2020, underscoring the idea that Internet connectivity is as important to development as other forms of infrastructure. 

This Council will make decisions about future conferences and meetings of the Union, setting the dates and venues for the 2017 World Telecommunication Development Conference and the 2019 World Radiocommunication Conference, enabling global development and wireless technology as only the ITU can do.  We will also discuss preparations for the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly to be held later this year.  

We will hear from the chairs of the Council Working Groups, and consider their recommendations on important issues such as endorsing a document access policy.  We will determine how to commence the review of the International Telecommunications Regulations and conduct the Experts Group.  We will also approve the operational plans for 2017-2020 and discuss other important issues, including the Joint Inspection Unit report, improvements to the plenipotentiary conference, youth and ICTs, and gender mainstreaming. 

Distinguished Councillors, I count on your good will, experience, and spirit of cooperation to move us to consensus on the many important issues before the Council.  We are all "in this together," sharing our experiences and collectively solving problems across a wide range of issues.  We must lead by example and commit to bring forth the best results, with everyone equally happy.  

It is within our ability, yours and mine, to govern wisely and work together productively to create a bright future and a positive environment in this Union.