Minister Mario Lino,
Ladies and gentlemen,
E um enorme prazer estar hoje aqui em Lisboa junto a tantos
delegados, especialmente do Governo português que é o anfitrião
deste nosso encontro.
[Translation: It is a great pleasure to be
here with you today in Lisbon, and to be surrounded by so many
attendees, and especially our gracious Portuguese hosts.]
Em nome da UIT, gostaría de agradecer-lhe pelo seu apoio
infalível e suas calorosas boas-vindas ao acolher o Fórum
Mundial sobre Políticas de Telecomunicações de 2009. Muito
[Translation: On behalf of the ITU, I would
like to thank you for your unfailing support and your warm
welcome in hosting the 2009 World Telecommunication Policy
Forum. Thank you.]
It is also a great honour to have Mario Lino, Portugal’s
Minister of Public Works, Transportation and Communication, [in
person] and Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for
Information Society & Media, [via video message] with us to open
Before we start, however, I would like us to share a moment
of silence, in memory of Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, who passed away
suddenly on 6 April. Ivy was the Minister of Communications in
South Africa from 1999 until her death.
Ivy was selfless in her dedication to bringing
telecommunications not only to South Africa but to the African
continent as a whole, and was instrumental in much of ITU’s
For me personally, she was truly a sister. We are grateful to
have known her, and to have shared some of our lives with her.
Thank you, Ivy.
This is our fourth WTPF, which results from Decision 9 of the
ITU Plenipotentiary Conference held in Antalya in 2006. Our
previous Policy Forums, held in 1996, 1998 and 2001, had narrow
agendas, but this edition has a much broader focus.
This reflects the rapid rate of ICT evolution, and underlines
the critical importance of our sector to overall economic and
That’s one of the reasons why we launched the 2009 WTPF with
a video contest, aimed at seeing what young people wanted to say
on the future of ICTs.
This was a first for ITU, and I am delighted to report that
we had a great response, with more than 30 videos being
submitted from all around the world.
It was difficult to pick five winners, but after a lengthy
judging process, we selected these five young people for their
exceptional contributions. We will award these young
persons on Friday afternoon.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Yesterday – given the current financial and economic
circumstances – we held a high-level Strategic Dialogue, with
‘Confronting the Crisis’ as the theme.
While acknowledging the very real issues facing the world –
and our industry – we remained positive through yesterday’s
discussions, and focused on causes for optimism, and ways
We highlighted the need to ensure – even, and perhaps
especially, during hard times – that all the world’s people
continue to benefit from ever-greater access to ICTs, with ICT
development being one of the main drivers of both social and
We also discussed vital areas where public and private sector
cooperation can make a big difference – areas such as
infrastructure sharing and capacity building – and focused on
staying united in finding solutions to stimulate investment and
growth, and pave the way to economic recovery and development.
Indeed, if one positive thing has come out of this crisis, it
is a heightened sense of the need for all of us to work
Over the coming three days, I now look forward to engaging
with delegates across all the items on our busy agenda.
Much work has already gone on in the background. The WTPF
Informal Experts Group met three times in Geneva over the course
of the past year or so, and again this past Monday here in
Lisbon, and I would like to thank them for their efforts.
The Secretary-General’s Report – which will be presented in
more detail later on this morning – incorporates the work of the
Informal Experts Group as well as numerous contributions from
our Member States and Sector Members.
The Report closes with six draft opinions which have been
endorsed by the Experts Group.
One of the great advantages of the WTPF is that it is not
designed to produce prescriptive outcomes with the binding force
of an international treaty. This means that we have more freedom
to say what we feel, and to listen with perhaps more open minds
It means we can debate the issues boldly and frankly –
knowing that the opinions we agree on, here in Lisbon, can
instead be used to guide ongoing global ICT policies, and
regulatory and standardization efforts worldwide, as well as
ITU’s own work for the coming year.
As defined by the famous Decision 9, the WTPF covers four
broad areas for discussion:
Convergence and Internet-related public policy matters;
Emerging telecommunications policy and regulatory issues; and
The International Telecommunication Regulations.
Looking at each of these in turn:
Convergence is arguably the most powerful driving force
transforming today’s ICT landscape, as new technologies and
platforms steadily erode the links between infrastructure and
A good example is standard voice telephony, which is no
longer limited to copper-wire POTS networks, but carried over
the airwaves, through co-axial cable TV links or via the
Convergence goes hand-in-hand with the world’s most important
data network, the Internet – which increasingly is not just an
information resource, but supports a vast range of business-critical
applications and processes.
This raises important questions about resource management,
and in particular the management of top level domains, the
allocation of IP addresses, and the regulations specifying who
defines their associated rules.
With Asia-Pacific now having the largest share of Internet
users by region, and developing countries under-represented in
current governance mechanisms, there is an urgent need to ensure
governance frameworks reflect new market realities – and I
therefore look forward to constructive debate on this
Moving on to Next-Generation Networks, NGN packet-switched
technology is here today. And it is already beginning to replace
the traditional circuit-switched networks that have served as
the basis of telephony since its inception well over a hundred
At ITU, we are leading the move to NGNs with our NGN Global
Standards Initiative – one of the largest, most wide-ranging
standardization projects ever undertaken.
For all their advantages, however, NGNs present their own
challenges. A good example is the area of regulation, where
there is still uncertainty as to whether existing mechanisms are
sufficient to support a smooth migration.
We all look forward to an era of seamless connectivity to
broadband services over any network and any device, worldwide –
but we absolutely must ensure the continued interoperability
with legacy networks.
Turning now to emerging telecommunication policy and
regulatory issues, I would like to stress how important it is
that global solutions are found to what, increasingly, are
Challenges such as building confidence and security in the
use of ICTs, child online protection, digital rights management
and data privacy simply cannot be dealt with in an
uncoordinated, piecemeal fashion.
A collaborative, international approach is also needed to
help solve new spectrum and satellite management issues which
are resulting from new network and device types and fast-growing
demand for bandwidth.
At the global level, we must also continue to explore how
ICTs can help address climate change issues – for example
through their deployment as early warning systems, through their
use to monitor climatic variables, and through the opportunities
they offer to help cut emissions in other sectors.
The fourth area for discussion this week is the International
Telecommunication Regulations, the ITRs.
The current ITRs came into force almost twenty years ago –
but the industry they relate to has changed beyond recognition
since then. Back in 1990, many governments were still
essentially the provider of analogue voice services; today they
are expected to ensure fair policy and regulation of a whole
host of convergent multimedia services, delivered over many
different types of networks and devices.
We shall therefore use this opportunity, during the Forum, to
look at new and emerging issues with respect to international
telecommunication networks and services as they relate to the
Ladies and gentlemen,
In closing, may I once again thank you all for being here
this week – this is an invaluable opportunity to help shape the
I am, as you know, an optimist. And I like to remember the
quotation by the British wartime prime minister, Winston
Churchill, who once said:
“An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
We are living through a particularly difficult period in
world history – arguably the most difficult since the second
world war. But there are many opportunities in this difficult
time – and I firmly believe that together we can seek them out,
and make the world a better place.