Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to address these closing remarks to you at ITU Council 2013.
Our Council session this year has been brilliantly chaired by Marius Catalin Marinescu from Romania, who has not only led the Council to a successful conclusion, but has done so ahead of schedule.
This is a tremendous achievement in any circumstances – and it is a record achievement at a Council session dealing with the budget; congratulations to you, Mr Chairman!
I would also like to convey my sincere thanks to:
- Our Vice Chair, Aboubakar Zourmba from Cameroon;
- The Chair of the Standing Committee on Administration and Management, Caroline Greenway from Australia;
- And the Vice-Chairs, Marcin Krasuski of Poland, who continues to serve in this role from last year, and Vernita Harris from the United States.
- As a team, they finished the work of the Standing Committee well ahead of schedule.
Thanks are also due to the chairs of the ad hoc groups set up during the Council who led discussions to a very successful conclusion.
This Session of Council was attended by 382 participants representing the 48 Member States of Council, 31 Member State Observers, four Sector Member Observers, and two Regional Telecommunication Organizations.
Among the participants this year, Council was very pleased to welcome Ministers from Burkina Faso, Chad, Egypt, Ghana and Kuwait.
We held a total of 18 meetings – 12 Plenary Meetings and seven meetings of the Standing Committee on Administration and Management – without the need for weekend sessions, night sessions, or indeed votes.
WORKING METHODS & INNOVATIONS
It has now become standard practice at Council to be paper smart, and let me note how impressed we were to have – for the very first time – a paperless Chairman!
I am delighted to see that our efforts to work in a paperless environment continue to pay off each year, as we continue to reduce our carbon footprint.
Working electronically has again allowed the secretariat to enhance time to publication and to provide Councillors with quick access to documents and reports.
The Council Sync Application used to download Council documents has become an indispensible tool and, according to reports, is very much appreciated by Councillors.
We held a number of successful information sessions and presentations. These included:
- A session on celebrating 150 years of the Union, with interesting examples from our long history;
- A session on ITU-IMPACT, bringing us up to date with the latest developments;
- A presentation on Customer Relationship Management, CRM;
- An update on ITU’s communications activities – entitled ‘Sharing the ITU Story’;
- A briefing on the Global Youth Summit, BYND 15;
- The Romanian exhibition;
- And a very successful panel session on ITU's new Gender Policy – discussing what it means and why it matters.
A number of Councillors took advantage of the laptop service offered – so let me just remind them to return their laptops before they leave; thank you in advance.
I am pleased to say that all worked well, with interpretation provided in all six official languages.
We expect to offer more facilities in terms of remote participation for ITU events over the coming months, and we will continue to strive to improve our services to Council and to the membership overall.
KEY COUNCIL DECISIONS
During our session we reviewed 87 input documents, including 28 contributions from Member States. Nineteen formal texts were adopted.
Let me highlight some of the key resolutions and decisions:
- Council considered and approved the Union’s four-year rolling operational plans for 2014 to 2017.
- Council decided to establish a working group to elaborate a draft Strategic Plan and a draft Financial Plan for the period 2016 to 2019. Our Sector Members will participate fully in this group. These plans will be considered by next year’s session of Council and then submitted to PP-14.
- Council endorsed an ITU Accessibility Policy for Persons with Disabilities ensuring reasonable accommodation to ITU services. The new policy represents the first document of its kind produced by a United Nations agency. Council also approved a statement that will highlight the contribution of ICTs, and the work of ITU in promoting ICT accessibility, to the United Nations General Assembly High Level Meeting on Disabilities and Development on 23 September. Let me invite you to circulate this statement to the delegations that will represent your country at this very important meeting.
- ITU and Egypt signed two Host Country Agreements to hold next year’s World Telecommunication Development Conference, WTDC-14, back-to-back with the High-Level Event on the Overall Review of the Implementation of the Outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society, WSIS+10. Let me remind you here that WSIS+10, like all the WSIS Forum events, is open to all WSIS stakeholders.
Council endorsed a landmark policy to further mainstream gender equality across the whole range of ITU’s strategic plans, activities and programmes. For next year, let me encourage you to achieve a gender-balanced session of Council!
Council chose ‘Broadband for Sustainable Development’ as the theme for next year’s World Telecommunication and Information Society Day.
Council extended free online access to Council Resolutions and Decisions to ITU membership on a permanent basis, as well as to ITU-R Handbooks on radio-frequency spectrum management to the general public on a permanent basis.
Council decided to create a Council Committee open to ITU membership to prepare for the 150th anniversary of the Union.
Council confirmed that the Secretary-General can carry out or facilitate informal consultations with stakeholders. I look forward to engaging with all stakeholders on international Internet public policy-related matters and to bringing the essence of these discussions to the Council Working Group on this issue for information.
And last, but by no means least, Council approved the revised budget for the next biennium, covering 2014 and 2015 – my thanks and congratulations to all who worked so hard to achieve this.
WHAT LIES AHEAD?
As you are well aware, the rest of this year continues to be busy for the Union, and I expect this pattern to be repeated over the coming years as well.
In addition to the work schedule of our Study Groups, let me highlight a few notable events and activities bringing us to the end of 2013:
- In two weeks we have the Global Symposium for Regulators, the GSR, in Poland;
- In September, we have the Global Youth Summit in Costa Rica;
- In November we have the ITU Connect Asia-Pacific Summit and ITU Telecom World 2013, held back-to-back in Thailand;
- And in December we have the World Telecommunication and ICT Indicators Symposium in Mexico.
We also have major events coming up beyond 2013 of course which we are already working on, including:
- The World Telecommunication Development Conference in April next year, immediately followed by the WSIS+10 event, both being held in Egypt;
- The Plenipotentiary Conference in October in Korea;
- The Radiocommunication Assembly and the World Radiocommunication Conference in 2015;
- And of course ITU’s 150th anniversary, also in 2015.
Let me close on a positive note.
Last week, during my State of the Union address, I said that Council is a tremendous opportunity to develop a shared vision for the Union.
And I noted, in my seventh year as Secretary-General, the excellent bond of trust and the strong working relationships between Council, the Member States and ITU management.
I said that in this environment, and in this atmosphere, no challenge is too high for us!
And so it proved: this Council was an excellent demonstration of how we continue to build on our long and honourable history of working together, to facilitate technical and technological progress, with trust and faith in one another.
We have been true to the spirit of the Union, to the spirit that brings us together here for the common good, with our shared goals and shared aspirations.
So let me thank you for that.
In closing I would like to say a special thank you to the ITU staff who worked tirelessly behind the scenes, as well as to the interpreters for making our interactions possible.
We sincerely appreciate it!
And finally, let me now present our Chairman with the ITU Silver Medal for his outstanding service to the Union.