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Opening of the 10th session of the CSTD
United Nations, Geneva, Switzerland
21 May 2007

Opening Remarks by ITU Deputy Secretary-General Mr Houlin Zhao 

Mr. President,
Excellencies,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen

It is a great pleasure to be here this morning to address this tenth session of the ECOSOC Commission on Science and Technology on behalf of the International Telecommunication Union. I do wish to convey the regrets of Secretary-General Toure, who is on mission and not able to be here today...

This session is an important step in the follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society.

Last year ECOSOC adopted a resolution, as requested by WSIS, to strengthen the Commission. This will enable the CSTD to better play its part in the follow-up of the WSIS outcomes.

It is now 18 months since the holding of the second phase of the Summit in Tunis.

More than ever, it is vital that we maintain the momentum established by the two phases of WSIS. As you may recall, the Geneva phase established an ambitious series of connectivity targets to be reached by 2015. If we can meet those targets and provide access to communications throughout the world, we will have taken a major step in meeting the Millennium Development Goals.

These two weeks in Geneva are a promising sign towards an inclusive and dynamic implementation of the WSIS and show the great interest in ICTs on the part of all stakeholders. More than 650 delegates have registered this year to attend the cluster of WSIS related events.

It is important that the WSIS process remain inclusive. ITU itself has a long experience with the involvement of the private sector in its work, through more than 700 Sector Members and Associates who are part of the membership of the Union. Last Friday, we held an informal consultation Meeting with civil society to explore ways in which civil society entities also can play an enhanced role in ITU’s activities.

Implementation of the 11 Action Lines in the WSIS outputs will include expanded efforts to build infrastructure, provide affordable access, enrich content, create an enabling environment and further develop a wide range of e-applications. They are the engines that will turn the WSIS principles and goals into concrete actions.

A first round of action Line Facilitation meetings was held last year and a second round is taking place at this time in Geneva. As a result, long term work plans have been defined and partnerships and projects have already emerged. At the international level, under the facilitation of designated UN Agencies, the 11 Actions Lines identified by the Geneva Action form today the axis for the implementation.

As requested by world leaders in Tunis, ITU, UNESCO and UNDP are facilitating the work under the Action Lines .To coordinate the process, a first meeting of Action Line Facilitators was held in February 2006. A second coordination meeting will take place on 25 May to take stock of the activities undertaken so far, identify further means of collaboration, invigorate the implementation process and make it more inclusive and visible.

At the inter-agency level and as requested by the Summit, the United Nation Group on the Information Society (UNGIS) was established by CEB in April 2006.

The UNGIS held its first meeting in July 2006 under the chairmanship of ITU. More than twenty CEB members participated and agreed on a Plan of Action and list of Activities. The foundation of the Group has been set and UNGIS is expected become an efficient communication channel between UN Organizations and Programmes on the way they implement WSIS commitments and are able to mainstream the results of WSIS in their mandate and activities. In July, UNESCO will host the second meeting of the UNGIS.

I am also delighted to note that dynamic processes are underway at the regional and national levels.

On the occasion of the celebration of the second World Telecommunication and Information Society Day on 17 May 2007, the ITU, in cooperation with its Members States, launched a web portal highlighting progress on WSIS implementation at the national level.

This portal provides access to more than 40 national reports which include comprehensive descriptions of the national mechanisms established to advance WSIS objectives, as well as information on e-strategies and key initiatives undertaken since WSIS in Tunis 2005.

Distinguished Delegates,

We can be pleased that one year and a half after the Tunis Summit, the implementation mechanisms as agreed in the WSIS Output Documents are taking shape.

CSTD can play an important role in follow-up by reinforcing the political willingness to make the best use of ICTs, which in turn will help to maintain the momentum generated by the two phases of the Summit.

WSIS was an important landmark in the global effort to eradicate poverty and achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. With a mere seven years remaining, the task of the CSTD in convening high-level policy dialogue and conveying key concerns to ECOSOC will help keep WSIS concerns on the forefront of the UN Agenda and demonstrate that ICTs can accelerate economic growth and help to achieve the Millennium development Goals.

ITU is committed to meeting the targets set by the WSIS.

I would like to take this opportunity to announce that in October 2007, ITU, together with the Global Alliance and the World Bank will organize a meeting in Kigali, Rwanda entitled “Connect Africa”. This will be high-level meeting to foster collaborated action towards bridging the digital divide and providing connectivity and broadband services throughout that continent. In following years, similar imitative will be organized for other regions.

I welcome to you all to join this initiative.

 

 

 

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