Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you all very much for joining us here today for the opening of this 5th World Telecommunication and ICT Policy Forum.
This is a very important event for the global telecommunications and Internet community – and an equally important event for the development of information and communication technologies worldwide.
The WTPF is a very different type of event from the big global treaty-making conferences ITU is well-known for, such as the World Radiocommunication Conference which is held every three years or so here in Geneva, or the WCIT-12 event which took place in Dubai last December.
This informal global gathering was initiated back in 1994, at ITU’s Kyoto Plenipotentiary Conference, to meet the needs of our public and private sector members who work in an extremely rapidly evolving industry.
The WTPF is designed to foster free and open discussion around cross-sectoral issues that impact most players in the ICT industry. This is the 5th Forum we have held; the first took place in 1996 on the topic of low-earth orbit satellites, and the most recent was held in Lisbon in 2009 and focused on the global financial crisis.
This 5th Forum focuses on the topic of Internet-related Public Policy. In case some of you are tempted to assume that this theme was chosen as a result of the WCIT meeting last year, I need to point out that the topic was actually chosen by consensus by ITU members at the Guadalajara Plenipotentiary Conference back in 2010.
Over the next three days, we will welcome over 800 delegates from around the world, and they will focus their discussions on six Draft Opinions on topics related to Internet issues such as Internet Exchange Points and IP addressing.
You can find the full text of all these Draft Opinions on the WTPF website, along with Backgrounders prepared for media to help explain some of the technical complexity behind the discussions.
You can also find the Secretary-General’s report, which is the sole input document to this Forum.
This report is the outcome of a comprehensive preparatory process that started over a year ago, led by a group known as the Informal Experts Group. Membership of this group was open to anyone – ITU member or not – and comprised over 180 participants. The IEG was very ably chaired by Petko Kantchev of Bulgaria.
The group met three times, and received a total of 75 official contributions. These are all reflected in the report, and can also be found on the WTPF website.
I would like to stress that the outcome of the Forum will not be a revised version of this report. The sole output of the Forum will be consensus around the wording of the six non-binding Opinions up for discussion.
Yesterday, to set the tone for our discussions from now until Thursday evening, we held a high-level Strategic Dialogue around broadband, featuring speakers from industry, government and civil society.
That event generated a great deal of very stimulating discussion, within a very positive climate of multistakeholder collaboration. I trust that we can continue as we started, and I look forward to hearing the views of government, civil society and industry over the next three days.
For now, however, it gives me great pleasure to hand the floor to the Chairman of this 5th World Telecommunication Policy Forum, His Excellency Ivo Ivanovski, Minister of Information Society and Administration of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Ivo is one of the most active and valued members of the ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission for Digital Development, and he is a tireless campaigner for affordable access for people around the world. He also regularly attends important ICT development gatherings such as the WSIS Forum event, which is taking place concurrently with this Forum over at ITU.
Ivo, thank you for accepting to chair this 5th WTPF, and let me invite you to say a few words…