Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to be with you here again in Chisinau today, at the ITU’s Regional Development Forum for Europe and CIS.
And it is a particular pleasure to be able to celebrate the successful conclusion of the ITU project to establish broadband Access Points to Internet (PAPI) in rural areas of the Republic of Moldova.
This is a great achievement, and I applaud Moldova’s efforts and progress in rolling out broadband – both via fixed-line connections and mobile broadband services, and both in urban centres and rural areas.
Moldova has recognized that access to broadband networks is absolutely vital to social and economic progress in the 21st century, and will benefit hugely from the creation of world-class ICT infrastructure, as it moves further towards creating a true knowledge economy.
I think even the most optimistic amongst you will be amazed by what you will achieve during the next decade – the decade of broadband.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As I am sure you are well aware, research consistently shows that investment in any sort of ICTs has a direct positive effect on GDP growth – and higher-end technologies, such as broadband networks, have been shown to deliver the greatest benefits.
So, for example, while a 10% increase in mobile teledensity seems to increase GDP by some 0.7 percentage points, the same increase in broadband penetration can boost GDP by an average of 1.3%.
Broadband networks also deliver benefits across society as a whole, of course, with improvements in services and reductions in costs – particularly in sectors such as healthcare, education, energy and transport.
Indeed, recent estimates show that in most developed countries, cost savings of just 0.5% to 1.5% over ten years, in these four key sectors alone, can justify the entire cost of building national point-to-point, fibre optic networks.
To raise awareness of the vital role of broadband in today’s world, we recently launched our ‘Build on Broadband’ campaign, and we are also proud to be playing a key role ‘UN Broadband Commission for Digital Development’, which will be officially launched next Monday in Geneva.
The Commission will be chaired by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Carlos Slim Helú, Honorary Lifetime Chairman of Grupo Carso. Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, and myself, will act as the vice-chairs, and the Commission includes a broad mix of high-level Commissioners from the public and private sectors.
The Commission has the full support of the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, and will report to the 2010 MDG Summit in September.
Broadband brings the world’s riches within reach of all the world’s people. But it also opens up new opportunities for wrong-doers, and in particular cybercriminals.
Last year, cybercriminals stole up to a trillion dollars worth of intellectual property from businesses worldwide, and many millions of individuals had their privacy violated, suffered identity theft and had their hard-earned savings stolen from them.
Governments constantly face cyberattacks – and terrorists increasingly rely not just on their weapons, but on the power of cyberspace technologies like GPS and VoIP to sow destruction.
As a result, the next major war will probably begin, not on the ground, but in cyberspace.
Given the scale of the threat – and the phenomenal harm that can be caused by even a single cyber attack – we cannot rely on ad hoc solutions or hope to survive by strengthening our defences only after attacks have occurred.
No – we must work together, to ensure a coordinated response.
This is why ITU is playing a lead role in coordinating global efforts in this area, and why we launched the Global Cybersecurity Agenda in 2007.
The GCA is now in its operational phase, with a physical home in Malaysia at the headquarters of IMPACT – the International Multilateral Partnership Against Cyber-Threats – and I encourage all ITU Members to take advantage of these facilities.
We are also increasingly seeing children being targeted online by all manner of wrong-doers, including paedophiles.
As a result we also launched – within the framework of the GCA – the Child Online Protection (COP) initiative, which has been established by ITU and other stakeholders as an international collaborative network for action to promote the online protection of children worldwide.
In collaboration with UN agencies and other organizations, we published four sets of guidelines last October, for parents, guardians and educators; policy makers; industry; and children themselves. These guidelines are available in the six UN languages and I encourage you to take advantage of the hard work which has gone into producing them.
Cybersecurity is a global issue, which can only be solved with global solutions. So one of the most important actions we must take to enhance security in cyberspace is to increase cooperation and coordination at the global level.
Existing frameworks, while good, are not in fact global. The best example is the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime, which has been ratified by only 26 countries. The nature of the convention makes it hard for other countries to join.
ITU therefore offers to host international discussion – identifying aspects we can agree on (there are many); recognizing that there are many different viewpoints; and working with all stakeholders, from government, industry and civil society.
I look forward to seeing Moldova playing an important role in these discussions – and indeed in all of ITU’s activities.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Before I close today, I would like to highlight two very important ITU events taking place this year.
The first is the World Telecommunication Development Conference, which is taking place in Hyderabad, India, from 24 May to 4 June – and I know that many of you here today have played an active part in the extensive preparations for this event.
I cannot over-emphasize the exceptional importance of the WTDC this year, and I invite you all to attend. The WTDC reviews the numerous programmes and initiatives of the Development Sector and sets ITU’s development agenda for the four years ahead.
WTDC-10 will be an essential step in assessing the progress achieved in the implementation of the ambitious action plan launched in 2006 in Doha. The Conference will adopt a declaration and an action plan that will pave the way to building on the foundations of a truly global information society for all.
The second event is ITU’s 18th Plenipotentiary Conference 2010, which will be held in Guadalajara, Mexico, from 4 to 22 October.
As many of you know, the Plenipotentiary Conference is the ITU’s top policy-making body and is held every four years. It sets our general policies, adopts four-year strategic and financial plans, and elects our senior management team.
In other words, it is the key event at which ITU Member States decide on the future role of our organization – and thereby determine our ability to influence and affect the development of ICTs worldwide.
I cannot stress how important this is.
When ITU was founded, almost 150 years ago, life was very much simpler. ICTs hardly existed, and very few people had access to them – or indeed the benefits they bring.
Today, things are very different. We have brought ICTs within reach of most of the world’s people. By the time of the Plenipotentiary Conference in October, we will be very close to – if not already past – the five billion mark, in terms of mobile cellular subscriptions worldwide.
The modern world is unthinkable – and would be quite unworkable – without ICTs, which have become the cornerstone of everything we do: always on, always connected, always on the move.
So the 18th Plenipotentiary Conference promises to be a landmark. What we achieve at PP-10 will not just affect the future of ITU and ITU’s work: it will affect the lives of everybody on the planet, in one way or another.