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UNDESA-GAID Steering Committee Meeting 
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
18 May 2008

Address by ITU Secretary General Dr Hamadoun I. Touré

As we all know, the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) held in two phases in Geneva 2003 and Tunis 2005, set out a clear vision to harness the vast potential of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to achieve the development aspirations of all the world’s inhabitants.

Recognizing the importance of ICT as valuable assets for economic growth, world leaders expressed their strong political commitment towards building an inclusive, people-centred and development-oriented information society. The Summit was an important landmark in the global effort to eradicate poverty and achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) by 2015. Since the Tunis Phase of WSIS, much progress has been made.

For example, the Connect Africa Summit, the first of ITU’s Connect the World series, held in Kigali last year showed the extent of the commitment to achieving the WSIS goals and was a huge step towards achieving an all-inclusive information society.

However, we need to keep in mind that there is much more to be done and there are only seven years remaining to 2015. All WSIS Stakeholders need to recognize the fact that, in order to benefit from the capability of ICTs to act as a key enabler for achieving MDG goals, we may need to be more ambitious in many domains, for instance aiming to connect the unconnected by 2012.

Building on the existing multistakeholder spirit, all WSIS stakeholders need to continue working together, focusing on concrete actions and projects in the field of ICTs, supporting the development of the inclusive information society, spurring investment, employment and broader human, social and economic development.

The ITU is welcoming the progress report listing growing number of activities, carried out in year 2007, which we see as an excellent result of the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders involved in the work with UNDESA-GAID. We are confident that this would not be possible without deep involvement of the Mr Craig Barret, Chairmen of Intel Corp. and UNDESA-GAID as well as dedication and continuous support to the activities of Mr Sha Zukang, Under-secretary-General of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA).

Many of activities carried out in 2007/2008 have proven that the UNDESA-GAID is becoming an efficient multi-stakeholder platform continuously attracting new partners in joining the forces in work on the ICT issues. We note that many of them are coming from the civil society and we strongly believe that it will be possible to maintain this tendency in the future.

Organized by the ITU the World Summit on the Information Society, for the first time in the history gave to the civil society the possibility to be involved in the process almost at the same level as the governments.

I am confident that the civil society has an important role in building all inclusive Information Society and more visible and tangible involvement of the civil society in the global initiatives, which mainstream the ICT issues into the global development agenda, might be with advantage for all parties involved.
It is our role, as the members of the steering committee, to give the proper directions to this multi-stakeholder platform. In order to avoid any possible duplication of on-going efforts, we should be very clear in determining the goals and scope of activities.

Bearing in mind that the Global Alliance for ICT and Development is UNDESA initiative, we need focus on those issues which still have not been reflected through existing mechanisms of the UN system or are out of its mandate.

With all its on-going and planned activities, the UNDESA-GAID demonstrates a great opportunity to the civil society to be part of the process mainstreaming the ICT issues into the global agenda. Therefore, I am confident, that we should do all our best in supporting UNDESA-GAID in its efforts to become an effective interface for the civil society.

 

 

 

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