ITU

Committed to connecting the world

Speech by ITU Secretary-General, Dr Hamadoun I. Touré

 

ITU Council 2012  

     State of the Union Address      

04 July 2012, Geneva, Switzerland 

 

 

 

 
 
Excellencies,
Distinguished Councillors
Ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to formally welcome you to the 2012 session of ITU Council.

It is just eight months since we last met, in October last year, but it has been a very important and busy eight months for ITU.

Before I commence, however, I would ask you to take a moment to remember one of the most active supporters of ITU and its work over the past half century, who sadly passed away on the 23rd of June, at the age of 86.

I am referring of course to Richard Butler, who was Deputy Secretary-General from 1968 to 1982, and Secretary-General from 1983 to 1989.

Even after leaving ITU he continued to play a very active role in ITU’s work, right up to just a few weeks ago.

Indeed, he was here in Geneva for RA-12 and WRC-12, earlier this year, and he will be very much missed by all of us.

Let me therefore ask you to stand and give a minute’s silence for Richard Butler.

[Silence]

Thank you.

There is a condolences book which will be passed on to Dick Butler’s family. It will be available outside this room for the duration of Council, and I invite you to take advantage of this opportunity to share your memories of this most exceptional man, who was an inspiration to us all.

Distinguished Councillors,

Let me take this opportunity to wish a very happy ‘Independence Day’ to our colleagues from the United States – we appreciate your participation here on what is a Federal holiday for you today.

Before I give you a resumé of our activities since we last met in October 2011, and outline the main events which lie ahead over the coming months, I would like to address an important issue which affects us all – and to seek your guidance over the coming days as to how we can work together to resolve it.

I am referring to the growing perception that ITU’s membership is becoming somewhat polarized on a number of key issues.

This is not at all in our culture, as a technical rather than a political organization, which has been a culture of consensus and trust, over close to 150 years – and I am very keen to see us avoid entering into some kind of new cold war, which would be absolutely unnecessary!

ITU has always been – and continues to be – the sum and product of its membership, which of course is so much more powerful and mighty than any individual can be.

ITU management and the ITU Secretariat are here at your service, to implement your decisions, recommendations and resolutions to the best of our ability.

We work best when we work together – and when we trust one another.

Let me therefore encourage the strengthening of bonds of trust between our Councillors, between our delegations, between all our members, and between all of us who are working here with the goals of the Union as our common ambition.

As I have said before, the best way to win a war is to avoid a war – and the shape of the world we live in today makes this a terrible time to start a fight!

So let’s not be divisive. And let’s see this session of Council as a test of our willingness to avoid a war, and to work together in the honourable ITU traditions of trust and consensus.

We have done it before. Indeed we have done it very often before – and most recently at RA-12 and WRC-12, earlier this year.

And I have every confidence that we can do it again.

And again.

And again!

Resumé of activities since Council 2011…

Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me now take this opportunity to remind ourselves of some of the key activities which have been undertaken since this august group of Councillors met in October last year.

ITU Telecom World 2011 & Broadband Leadership Summit

Immediately after last year’s session of Council we had the 40th anniversary edition of ITU Telecom World.

As you will know, the event had been strategically repositioned, in line with the changing needs of the industry as a whole – and indeed in line with the wishes of membership, which were clearly expressed at recent sessions of Council and of course at PP-10 – and the results were outstandingly successful.

ITU Telecom World 2011 was a true meeting of the best and brightest minds in the ICT sector, and I personally was very encouraged by the success of the new format, which clearly demonstrated the benefits of leveraging 40 years of experience to create a brand new business model.

ITU Telecom World 2011 also provided the setting for the Broadband Leadership Summit, held under the auspices of the ‘Broadband Commission for Digital Development’.

At the event, the Broadband Commission released a global ‘Broadband Challenge’ and endorsed four new global ‘Broadband Targets’ – the announcement of which generated strong and positive media coverage around the world.

RA-12 & WRC-12

Distinguished Councillors,

Moving into 2012, the biggest event of the year so far of course was the successful hosting of the Radiocommunication Assembly, RA-12, and the World Radiocommunication Conference, WRC-12.

Without going into too much detail, I think we can all agree that a major highlight of RA-12 was the approval of the Recommendation and Resolutions that not only establish the IMT-Advanced technologies but also initiate ITU-R studies for the further development of global mobile broadband communications.

We all enjoyed the extra-long weekend we just had, I am sure, with an extra second’s sleep on Saturday night [because of the latest leap second], so I should also mention the issue of UTC and the leap second which was addressed at RA-12 – and which attracted quite unprecedented media attention.

It is a testament to ITU’s important place in the world that the discussion surrounding UTC and the leap second took place here, at ITU, and it will be very interesting to see how this issue is eventually resolved at RA-15 and WRC-15.

WRC-12, of course, was a tremendous success for the Union, for the Radiocommunication Sector, and for the ICT sector as a whole.

The conference was totally responsive to the expectations of membership, and the outcomes were not just far-reaching, but were achieved – in the renowned tradition of ITU – leaving all delegates and delegations equally happy with the results.

WRC-12 was very important indeed in terms of its achievements – in areas including mobile broadband requirements; the digital dividend; earth observation radiocommunication applications; improvements of safety at sea and in the air; and the enhancement of the satellite regulatory regime.

WRC-12 was also a landmark conference for ITU in terms of management and logistics, handling over 26,000 document files electronically, on top of almost 20,000 Individual Proposal files which were posted. We also had close to two million downloads from the ITU WRC-12 website – not including downloads performed using the synchronization tool.

Perfect team work was key to the successful implementation of both RA-12 and WRC-12 – and it is right and proper to recognize that François Rancy truly excelled in his first assembly and radio conference as the BR Director.

Connect Arab States

Moving into March, we were delighted with the results of the ITU Connect Arab Summit, which took place in Doha, Qatar, and built on the previous successes of ITU Connect Africa in 2007, and ITU Connect CIS in 2009.

The event was very well attended indeed and brought together participants at the highest level from across the region and around the world, bringing together some 540 participants from 26 countries, including 7 Heads of State or Government.

At the Summit, industry and government leaders identified local market opportunities worth over 46 billion US dollars – demonstrating the true value of partnership.

We also saw a strong focus on youth and employment at the Connect Arab Summit, with participants identifying key strategies to address this vital issue, and governments committing to putting in place the right regulatory frameworks to stimulate broadband and promote innovation – both vital in the creation of 21st century jobs.

Fifth Broadband Commission meeting

Ladies and gentlemen,

Just a few weeks after the Connect Arab Summit we held the fifth meeting of the Broadband Commission in Ohrid, in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The meeting welcomed a number of new commissioners, bringing the total number up to nearly 60 – representing government, industry, international organizations and civil society at the highest levels.

Special sessions were held on ‘Broadband in South-East Europe’; ‘Broadband Business Models’; ‘Satellite as a solution to broadband challenges’; and ‘advocating broadband’.

The Macedonia meeting was also used to launch a report entitled ‘The Broadband Bridge’ which focuses on ICTs and the low carbon economy; and also reviewed statements which were then sent from the Commission to the recent G20 and Rio+20 Summits.

CEB

Also in April, many of you will have been aware that ITU was privileged to co-host the spring meeting of the UN Chief Executives Board with the World Meteorological Organization, WMO.

This presented the CEB with a unique opportunity to meet in a paper-smart environment, allowing us to build on the concrete steps we have already taken to improve efficiencies within ITU by providing staff with smart mobile devices.

Indeed, I am proud that ITU is the leader for the United Nations in ICT matters – both from a technical perspective, and in terms of delivering the benefits of technology; through paperless meetings, for example, and remote participation, which allows greater inclusiveness for members at the country level.

I would also like to inform you that the CEB has appointed ITU as the Chair of the ICT Network within the UN System.

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon took advantage of the CEB meeting to address ITU staff and to take questions during a town hall meeting right here in the Room – and encouraged us to forge further partnerships with other UN agencies and to continue addressing gender empowerment issues.

‘Girls in ICT Day’, New York

By a happy coincidence, our next event was ‘Girls in ICT Day’, which now takes place annually on the fourth Thursday in April, having been established by PP-10 in Guadalajara.

This year, over 100 ‘Girls in ICT Day’ events were held in more than 70 countries worldwide.

ITU and its partner WITNET provided support to ‘Girls in ICT Day’ event organizers around the globe, sharing flyers, banners, event organization toolkits, and helping organizers with sponsorship ideas and coordination with other partners.

In addition, ITU organized a high-level debate in New York to celebrate the occasion, bringing together leading international figures and champions of gender empowerment to debate and discuss core issues in front of an invited audience of over 200 gender, education and technology experts.

The New York event was used as a platform to launch a three-year ‘Tech Needs Girls’ campaign focused around four ‘Es’: empowerment, equality, education and employment.

2012 WSIS Forum

Moving forward, in the week of 14 to 18 May, we held the 2012 WSIS Forum here in Geneva, which like previous editions was co-organized by ITU, UNDP, UNESCO and UNCTAD.

Over 1,500 participants came together for a week to agree on an effective and meaningful review process – WSIS+10 – for measuring progress towards targets set in 2005 in Tunis at WSIS, and to forge a common vision for new actions beyond 2015.

This followed the endorsement by the CEB in April of the ‘Plan of Action for the Overall Review of the Implementation of the WSIS Outcomes’, with ITU accorded the leading managerial role in terms of responsibility for the WSIS+10 Review Process.

The Forum also saw the awarding of WSIS Project Prizes to 18 distinguished winners from around the world, recognizing projects that have made an outstanding contribution to the WSIS implementation.

WTISD

As usual, the WSIS Forum was timed to coincide with the celebrations for World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, WTISD, which this year celebrated the 147th anniversary of the establishment of ITU in 1865.

This year, the WTISD theme was ‘Women and Girls in ICT’, and we were very proud to give the 2012 WTISD awards to three laureates who have devoted their attention to this cause.

The three laureates were:
  • Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the President of Argentina – who has spearheaded numerous digital initiatives such as the ‘Equal Connect Programme’ in Argentina;
  • Sun Yafang, the Chairman of Huawei – who has long promoted female manager development at Huawei and throughout China; and
  • Geena Davis, the Academy Award winning actor and founder of the Geena Davis Institute of Gender in Media – who has dedicated herself to advocating more positive representations of women and girls in the media.

On the afternoon of WTISD, in the context of WSIS, we had an excellent high-level dialogue on Women and Girls in ICT, moderated by renowned BBC journalist Nisha Pillay, and featuring high-level speakers including government, industry and civil society representatives – and of course our very own Doreen Bogdan, ITU’s highest-placed woman.

Finally, on 12 June, we were pleased to announce that WTISD laureate Geena Davis has agreed to become ITU’s Special Envoy for Women and Girls in the field of technology.

Rio+20

Finally, bringing us right up to date, ITU played an important role in the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development – Rio+20 –which took place in Brazil in the middle of last month.

Our delegation was led by the Deputy Secretary-General, Houlin Zhao, and was successful in ensuring that our message on the importance of information and communication technologies for supporting sustainable development was heard loud and clear: the initial draft barely mentioned ICTs, but the approved final document contains a number of explicit references to ICTs, including direct mentions of both broadband and the use of space systems.

ITU-R, ITU-T & ITU-D

Distinguished Councillors,

The past eight months have also been very successful for all three ITU sectors, and we have been as busy – if not busier than ever before – in implementing the wishes of membership through the work of ITU-R, ITU-T and ITU-D.

ITU-R

Concerning ITU-R, of course, the main achievement since the last session of Council has been the successful staging and outcomes of the Radiocommunication Assembly and the World Radiocommunication Conference, as I mentioned earlier.

Significant activities ahead of these landmark events included the third information meeting on WRC-12, which was held in the last quarter of 2011, and the continuing implementation of the decisions made by WRC-07, including the development of the remaining software tools.

The Radio Regulations Board has met twice since the last session of Council and will meet again in September.

The processing of space and terrestrial service notices in relation to the Radiocommunication Bureau’s responsibilities in administering the implementation of the Radio Regulations has continued, with the goal of continuing to improve efficiency.

Regarding Study Group activities, a sizeable portion of that work was devoted to finalizing preparations for WRC-12, with the successful completion of the CPM Report to WRC-12 and its timely dissemination to the membership being a landmark in the ITU-R Study Group activities.

In addition, a number of ITU-R Recommendations and Reports in relation to urgent study Questions dealing with high interest areas were finalized. A key milestone was the completion of the detailed specifications of the radio interfaces for IMT-Advanced, which were formally approved at RA-12.

ITU-R also continued its work in informing and assisting membership on radiocommunication issues, with particular emphasis on the transition to digital terrestrial television and the digital dividend, through the organization of regional workshops.

In more recent news, I am pleased to inform you that the definitive version of the Final Acts of WRC-12 was published within the planned schedule. The Radiocommunication Bureau is presently busy preparing the updated edition of the Radio Regulations resulting from the decisions of WRC-12, and will do its utmost to deliver these too in a timely fashion.

ITU-T

Moving on to ITU-T, a core focus has been on the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly, WTSA, with preparations taking place throughout this year, notably in regional preparatory meetings.

A WTSA does not of course interrupt ongoing work in the T-Sector. Study groups keep producing standards. Around one thousand specialists progress ITU-T’s work. And remote participation has become common practice – delivering greater inclusiveness for the greater membership around the world.

ITU-T continues being highly active in its traditionally strong areas such as: optical transport networks; optical and copper access; network architecture; quality of service; numbering and addressing; economic and policy questions; security; and emergency communications.

In addition to these areas, ITU-T’s portfolio is being augmented by new areas such as cloud computing; smart grid; home networks; intelligent transport systems; the Internet of things; machine-to-machine communications; ICTs and climate change; and telepresence technology.

To give just one example, a new working party on cloud computing was set up at the beginning of the year which led to new members joining ITU-T.

In addition, four new focus groups have been created in the first half of 2012, and have already had at least one meeting each. These are:
  • The Focus Group on Smart Cable Television;
  • The Focus Group on Bridging the Gap: from Innovation to Standards;
  • The Focus Group on Disaster Relief Systems, Network Resilience and Recovery; and
  • The Focus Group on the M2M Service Layer.

Finally, the group on media coding, one of the flagship areas of ITU-T, created a collaborative group for the development of 3D video coding extensions applicable to current ITU-T standards in this area.

ITU-D

ITU-D, for its part, has continued to work hard in fulfilling ITU’s development mandate, and extensive and important work has been carried out both by the regional offices and here at ITU headquarters since the last session of Council. I am particularly pleased to see that remote participation in our work and meetings is on the increase.

ITU-D continues to strengthen its collaboration with the International Multilateral Partnership Against Cyber Threats, IMPACT, which now has 144 participating countries.

As part of an extensive series of activities to promote e-Health initiatives, ITU-D has collaborated with the World Health Organization in developing and publishing a National e-Health Strategy Toolkit that coordinates the efforts in this field.

This is going to contribute substantially to implementing the recommendations set by the ‘UN Commission on Information and Accountability for Women and Children’s Health’, which I am honoured to co-Vice-Chair with Dr Margaret Chan, the Director-General of WHO.

ITU-D is making sure and steady progress in supporting the harmonization of policies and legislation for the ICT market in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

As always, digital inclusion is at the core of ITU-D activities, and particularly impressive work is being done here – as I mentioned earlier, for example, this year’s ‘Girls in ICT Day’ was a great success, and I was personally very grateful to be able to take part.

The ITU-D Study Groups are gaining momentum to become a strong platform for experience and knowledge-sharing to developing countries. Innovation, youth and entrepreneurship are the main focuses of the Development Sector.

The ITU regional presence has been strengthened to better serve membership by all three bureaux and the General Secratariat.

Finally, of course, the series of ITU Connect the World summits, aimed at mobilizing resources and partnership to implement regional initiaives, continues with efficiency and positive impact.

ICT Discovery, IMAC and IPSAS

Ladies and gentlemen,

Before we move on to look at the year ahead, I would like to mention three more important pieces of news concerning our activities.

ICT Discovery

The first concerns the ICT Discovery, which was inaugurated just after the last session of Council, during ITU Telecom World 2011, and which was officially opened to visitors during this year’s WSIS Forum.

The ICT Discovery is the place where ITU highlights the history of ICTs and demonstrates their achievements, and how completely they have transformed and benefited our lives.

ICT Discovery is also about the contribution that ITU has made to all this progress, from 1865 right through to the present and on into the future.

It gives me great pleasure to invite you, the members of ITU Council, to join me in an exclusive tour of the ICT Discovery this evening, which will be followed by a welcome reception for this session of Council.

IMAC

The second piece of news concerns IMAC, the Independent Management Advisory Committee, which was set up by PP-10 and formalized at the last session of Council.

I am pleased to report that IMAC has made good progress already, and has met twice this year. The first recommendations from IMAC are contained in Council Document 44.

IMAC’s role is of the utmost importance for the ITU, as it plays a key role in reconfirming the commitment of the organization to efficient, accountable and transparent management.

Before moving on, let me express our sadness at the passing away of IMAC Member Andrei Korotkov, in February, just prior to the first meeting.
 
IPSAS

The third piece of news also concerns transparency and accountability, in the shape of compliance with the International Public Sector Accounting Standards, IPSAS – and I am pleased and proud to be able to report that for the second year the ITU financial statements have been certified as IPSAS-compliant.

As you will know, I have been dedicated to management accountability and transparency ever since I was first elected as Secretary-General, and I am delighted to be able to offer these positive results to Council.

A flexible and motivated workforce

Before moving on to look at the year ahead, let me just say a few brief words about our most precious asset, here at ITU – which is of course our staff.

Accordingly, I believe that we should also continue to strive to be the leader in modern staff management – creating a flexible and motivated work force that can easily be mobilized to respond rapidly to the changing needs of Member States.

In times of austerity around the world, increased productivity – enabled by a positive relationship between staff and management – can minimize any negative impact on the work of the Union.

However, it does require more and more flexibility and innovation from staff – and I am pleased to report that in this context the dialogue between staff and management continues.

Preview of the year ahead…

Excellencies,
Distinguished Councillors,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me now give you a brief preview of the exciting year which lies ahead of us, and which promises to be another very busy and exciting twelve months for us all.

Major ITU events coming up include:
  • The ITU Connect Americas Summit later this month;
  • The next meeting of the Broadband Commission in September;
  • The GSR event in October;
  • ITU Telecom World 2012, also in October;
  • The World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly, WTSA-12, in November;
  • The World Conference on International Telecommunications, WCIT-12, in December; and
  • The World Telecommunication Policy Forum, WTPF-13, in May 2013.

Connect Americas

Ladies and gentlemen,

Immediately after this session of Council we will be holding the ITU Connect Americas Summit, in Panama, from 17-19 July.

The Summit has been timed to capitalize on the momentum already built up in the Americas region this year by the Summit of the Americas in Colombia in April; and the B20 and G20 Summits in Mexico and the Rio+20 Conference in Brazil in June.

The Summit will offer a venue for leaders from the public and private sectors as well as international and regional financing and development agencies to network face-to-face and forge new partnerships for the accelerated roll out of broadband connectivity – and we expect bold decisions and commitments to be announced.

We already have confirmed participation from many regional leaders, and we expect the ITU Connect Americas Summit to build on the successes already achieved by the earlier ITU Connect Summits.

Broadband Commission, New York

After the summer break, we will be holding the sixth meeting of the Broadband Commission in New York on 23 September, and we already have a strong participant list for the meeting both from within the Commission itself and also including a number of very special high-level invitees.

One of the main focuses of the meeting will be the opportunity to publish the Commission’s ‘State of Broadband 2012’ report, which will feature insight and contributions from many of the Broadband Commissioners as well as reporting on the progress made in achieving the ambitious broadband targets which were set by the Commission last October.

GSR

A few weeks later, at the beginning of October, we will be holding our annual Global Symposium for Regulators, the GSR, in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

The GSR remains a unique venue for regulators and policy makers from both developed and developing countries to meet and exchange views and experiences. The theme of this year’s GSR is ‘Why regulate in a global networked society?’

GSR participants will examine innovative regulatory approaches to global and regional interconnection; net neutrality; roaming; cloud computing; data protection and privacy; spectrum policies; public-private partnerships to foster the investment and deployment of broadband NGN networks and services; and broadband implementation success stories.

The opening days of the GSR will be dedicated to the Global Regulators-Industry Dialogue, which presents a unique opportunity and a neutral platform for ITU-D Sector Members to share their views on major issues facing the ICT sector.

ITU Telecom World 2012

Just two weeks after GSR, from 14 to 18 October, we will be in Dubai for ITU Telecom World 2012.

This event will build on the successful format pioneered at ITU Telecom World 2011, and will focus on the bywords of ‘knowledge’ and ‘action’, bringing together a high-quality, influential mix of participants drawn from right across the ICT industry, along with Heads of State and Government, regulators, innovators, digital entrepreneurs and many more.

A dynamic series of conferences will tackle core issues such as using ICTs to create a new future; leadership and innovation to achieve open, fair, global connectivity; delivering broadband within new business models; the implications and opportunities of shifting industry dynamics; the threat of cybersecurity; and the smart applications enabled by new connectivity – including e-Health, smart grids and intelligent transport systems.

I look forward to joining you there!
 
WTSA

Distinguished Councillors,

At the end of November we will be holding the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly, WTSA-12, in Dubai.

The WTSA, held every four years, is a crucial event for the Standardization Sector, for ITU as a whole, and indeed for the entire ICT sector.

The WTSA will define the next period of study for ITU-T, and will also review working methods, including approval processes; the work programme; and the structure of the Study Groups.

The Assembly will be preceded on 19 November by a one-day Global Standards Symposium, the GSS, which will bring together ministers, regulators, heads of other international, regional and major national standards bodies, and industry from the different regions of the world to discuss global ICT standards challenges.

WCIT

Immediately after the WTSA, also in Dubai, we have the World Conference on International Telecommunications, WCIT-12.

This is the first event of its kind since the conference in Melbourne in 1988 which produced the current International Telecommunication Regulations, the ITRs.

As you will know, the Council Working Group on WCIT has led the preparatory process for this landmark conference, and has just concluded its last meeting, here in Geneva.

I would like to take this opportunity to set the record straight on a number of important issues which have found their way into various realms of the public domain over the past few months.

I am grateful for the public awareness surrounding these issues as it has given me an opportunity to clarify the plain facts and the potential benefits we can hope to achieve through the WCIT event.

Firstly, as I have said at other recent meetings, WCIT will be the catalyst for the free flow of information.

As you know, in Article 33 of the ITU’s Constitution, Member States recognize the right of the public to correspond by means of the international service of public correspondence.

And the ITRs cannot contradict that provision.

It is true nonetheless that most countries have measures in place to protect copyright owners, for example, and to prevent defamation. Such measures are of course permitted by Article 34 of the ITU’s Constitution.

And the ITRs cannot contradict that, either.

WCIT, therefore, will facilitate the free flow of information.

There have also been a number of accounts stating that there is some sort of barrier, conflict or even war between telecommunications and the Internet.

In the converged world of the 21st century, this is plainly ridiculous. Who today can tell me the difference, in terms of traffic passing across networks, between voice, video, and data?

So the real issue in front of us is how best to cooperate – to ensure:
  • The free flow of information;
  • The continued development of broadband;
  • Continuing investment in networks, services and applications;
  • And perhaps most importantly – in this very fast-moving world – continuing innovation.

I cannot imagine anyone who would disagree that the benefits of ICTs should be brought to all citizens of the world.

And indeed the Council Working Group on WCIT concluded on this same positive note, with all our members’ agreement that we all want to see the further development of telecommunications.

So the question before WCIT is therefore how best can the ITRs be adapted to facilitate the achievement of that goal.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It has come as a surprise – and I have to say a great disappointment – to see that some of those who have had access to WCIT proposals have chosen to publicly mis-state or distort them in public forums and to journalists; sometimes to the point of caricature.
 
These distortions and mis-statements could be found plausible by credulous members of the public, and could even be used to influence national parliaments, given that the documents themselves are not officially available – in spite of recent developments, including the leaking of Document TD 64.

I can confirm that a group of civil society organizations has written to me to request public access to the proposals under discussion, and I would therefore ask Council to consider granting open access to these documents, and in particular future versions of TD 64.

I would also ask Council to agree to the holding of an open consultation regarding the ITRs, accessible to all stakeholders worldwide.

Most of us were not involved in the preparations for the 1988 conference in Melbourne. But the historical record shows that many of the fears, concerns, and criticisms surrounding WCIT also appeared in 1988.

As we know, those fears and concerns were unwarranted: the 1988 Melbourne conference created the framework that enabled the spectacular growth of telecommunications – including the Internet – over the past 24 years.

As we know, 1988 set the stage for the information society.

And I am absolutely convinced that 2012 will set the stage for the knowledge society.
 
WTPF

Distinguished Councillors,

Looking ahead to 2013, we will be holding the fifth World Telecommunication / Information and Communication Technology Policy Forum, the WTPF, here in Geneva next May.

Following Decision 562 of Council 2011, WTPF-13 will discuss all of the issues raised in Plenipotentiary Resolutions 101, 102 and 133, which cover International Internet-related public policy matters.

A month ago, on 5 June, we held the first meeting of the WTPF-13 Informal Experts Group, the IEG, and in my welcome remarks to the group I said how pleased I was that the WTPF offers us an unrivalled opportunity to discuss matters in a low-pressure setting, since the WTPF outcomes (or “opinions”) are non-binding.

Let me therefore encourage membership to use WTPF-13 as an opportunity to discuss – with respect for each other’s views – some of the very real issues and differences in opinion I have noted among ITU membership.
 

Closing Section
 
Excellencies,
Distinguished Councillors,
Ladies and gentlemen,

This brings me neatly back to my remarks at the beginning of this State of the Union address.

We are all aware that there is no longer any part of modern life on planet earth that is not directly impacted by ICTs and by the work we do here at ITU.

In the second decade of the 21st century, in a world with over six billion mobile cellular subscriptions and more than 2.4 billion people online, ITU’s work permeates into every business, every government office, every hospital and school, and every household.

ITU’s work is also increasingly vital to each and any political grouping – whether it be G8, G20, OECD or G77 – and affects every social and economic sector of activity in the world today.

Indeed, in a world of austerity measures and growing unemployment, ICTs are one of the few real beacons of hope for sustainable growth.

It is therefore absolutely vital that we embrace the true spirit of ITU.
  • This is the spirit of agreement not discord;
  • The spirit of consensus not contentiousness;
  • The spirit of reconciliation, not antagonism;
  • And the spirit of trust, not scepticism.

We have a long and honourable history of working together, to facilitate technical and technological progress, with trust and faith in one another.

We have a long and honourable history of avoiding political squabbles and working together for the common good.

And we have a long and honourable history of building consensus and achieving success.

Most recently we saw this spirit of cooperation bear rich fruit at RA-12 and WRC-12, which set the way forward for a bright and positive future – not just for our sector, but for all the world’s people.

The work we do at ITU every day, fulfilling the mandate given to us by you, our membership, has the power to improve the lives of each and every person on the planet.
  • If we work together.
  • If we trust one another.
  • And if we have confidence in one another.

This we can do!

And this we must do!

Thank you.