Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure for me to join you in Istanbul for the celebration of World Telecommunication
and Information Society Day.
First of all, allow me to convey to you the best greetings of the ITU Secretary-General,
Dr. Hamadoun Touré, and the whole team of the ITU elected officials.
This day used to be known as World Telecommunication Day marks ITU’s 142nd birthday,
commemorating its establishment—as the International Telegraph Union—in Paris, on
May 17, 1865. In 2006, following the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS),
the United Nations General Assembly declared 17 May World Information Society Day
to be celebrated every year.
Later in the year, ITU Member States adopted a resolution to celebrate 17 May as
World Telecommunication and Information Society Day. This is a clear statement of
the importance of the role that the telecommunication sector plays in building an
Information Society, which is inclusive, people-centred and development-oriented.
It is a particular pleasure for me to celebrate this day with you in Turkey, because
your country has played a major role over the last 12 months in shaping ITU’s future.
I am referring, of course, to the Plenipotentiary Conference which was hosted so
successfully and so graciously by the government of Turkey in Antalya, from 6-24
November 2006. That historic conference elected a new management team for the Union,
including myself as Deputy Secretary-General. But, more importantly, it opened a
new path for the Union, for instance by focusing our work on the emerging priorities
of bridging the digital divide, cybersecurity and emergency telecommunications.
Among many important achievements, the Plenipotentiary Conference paved the way
for the greater participation of civil society in ITU’s work. In that respect, I
am delighted to see a number of civil society entities and other professional associations
taking part in the panel session and award ceremony later today.
The Plenipotentiary Conference also confirmed the role that ITU will play as one
of the leading facilitating agencies for the implementation of the outcomes of the
WSIS. We have facilitated a cluster of WSIS-related
meetings in Geneva, between
14-25 May, which are aimed at coordinating the work of the different stakeholders.
ITU’s own role is in facilitating action lines C2, on communications infrastructure,
and C5 on building confidence and security in the use of ICTs. More information
about these activities can be found on our website (www. itu.int).
Yesterday, in Geneva, during the ceremony to mark World Telecommunication and Information
Society Day, the Secretary-General presented the ITU World Information Society Award
to honour Her Excellency Dr. Margarita Cedeño de Fernández, First Lady of the Dominican
Republic for mobilizing public opinion and, Mozilla Corporation of the United States
for key technical innovation, as well as Professor Mark I. Krivocheev of the Russian
Federation for his lifetime achievements in digital television broadcasting, including
High Definition Television. The Award ceremony is the centerpiece of the WSIS cluster
of meetings, and it is our hope that it will encourage national ceremonies and similar
The theme of this year’s celebration is “Connecting the Young”. Young people are
often the most connected members of society, and they are pioneering new applications,
such as social networking, mobile phone texting and user-generated content. The
average age of ICT users is also falling as children have access to ICTs at a younger
In an increasingly networked world, the young are not only the beneficiaries but often the driving force behind the latest innovations and practices, and for many,
the dependence on information and communication
technologies (ICT) has come to determine
their choice of lifestyle. It is clearly our duty today to provide the opportunities
of ICT to all children and youth, particularly to those who remain unconnected from
the ongoing digital revolution.
The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) recognized young people as the
future workforce and earliest adopters of ICT and called for their empowerment.
In order to achieve this critical objective, national e-strategies must address the special requirements of children, especially the disadvantaged and marginalized,
and ensure their full inclusion in the Information Society. ICT are powerful tools
to empower children and other vulnerable groups with information and knowledge and
act as a catalyst in ensuring their rights within the comity of nations.
The key to achieving the development aspirations of the world’s inhabitants lies
in investing in the future generation, especially by improving access to communication
among today’s children and enhancing their capacities.
So let us promote visionary public policies, innovative business models and creative
technological solutions that will empower young people and engage them in the global
effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
To conclude, I wish to thank the Turkish Government for inviting me to join you
today. ITU looks forward to continuing to work with the Turkish Administration and
Turkish industry to implement the results of WSIS as well as the strategic goals
of ITU, and the ambitious plan of Turkey on ICT development.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish you every success and happiness on World Telecommunication
and Information Society Day 2007!