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International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
Statement by Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, Secretary-General
Closing Remarks

Your Excellency, Mr. Prime Minister,
Minister Mario Lino,
Mr. Chairman,
Distinguished colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted to address you at the end of this challenging, but very successful event – an event which I believe has, for all of us, far exceeded our expectations.

I hope you shared my appreciation of the pioneering Strategic Dialogue, where industry leaders, thinkers and policy-makers shared with us their many insights about the current challenges we face in promoting ICT growth and development.

The Strategic Dialogue acknowledged the vital role of ICTs in leading the world out of crisis, and kickstarting economic growth and recovery. Repeated calls were made for a “Digital Marshall Plan”, a call that was first made at Kigali in October 2007. Now, however, I think there is widespread recognition of the vital role investments in ICTs can play in reigniting economic growth and creating jobs.

During this Forum, we have been honoured to welcome over 850 delegates representing 118 Member States, 44 sector members, 5 United Nations entities, as well as 75 members of the public. High-level participation by VIPs reached unprecedented levels – including a record number of Ministers, Deputy Ministers and heads of regulators.

We have worked together, with respect and harmony, to identify innovative ways forward on the tough issues on this year’s agenda.

In adopting the Chairman’s report, the WTPF this week has endorsed the six opinions which will contribute to shaping global ICT policies, and regulatory and standardization efforts worldwide, as well as ITU’s own work for the coming year – and beyond.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

ICTs have the power to accelerate progress towards the achievement of all MDGs. That is one of the reasons why the understanding and common ground we’ve staked out during this Forum is so important, and why ITU continues to accord such a high priority to ongoing ICT development.

In our follow up to the World Summit on the Information Society, ITU is attaching more emphasis than ever to implementation, project initiation, and multi-stakeholder involvement. This year, we are pleased to launch with our UN partners a new format for the annual WSIS action line meetings - the WSIS Forum, the first of which will take place next month.

The WSIS Forum 2009 will feature several high-level panels, including one on the financial crisis, so let me take this opportunity of inviting you all to join us in Geneva from 18 to 22 May.

The WSIS Forum this year coincides with the celebration of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day. This year, the theme is ‘Protecting Children in Cyberspace’, which marks the start of a year-long campaign to make the Internet safer for our most valuable asset, our children.

I wish to acknowledge the sincere efforts of Japan and Serbia in this field, who informed us this week that they have both already kicked off national programmes which complement ITU’s Child Online Protection initiative.

In this respect, I would be delighted if the Portuguese Government could bring their exciting initiative on the Magellan computers to Geneva next month, to show us all what they have achieved.

And, whilst I am extending invitations, let me also encourage you to come to this year’s ITU Telecom World event, taking place in Geneva from 5 to 9 October. I believe that this crisis can only be overcome if government works in close partnership with the private sector to recreate an environment for investment. And Geneva in October is the place to do it!

Thank you

In concluding, I would like to offer my sincere thanks to the six WTPF Vice-Chairs and the Chairmen and Vice-chairmen of the Working Groups, who have done so much to guide our work here.

I would like to extend very special thanks to Mr. Mario Franco for his vision and his dedication to the WTPF and, in particular, his excellent chairmanship of the Informal Experts Group.

Mr. Chairman, you have done an outstanding job in every way.  It is my greatest pleasure to award you the ITU Silver medal in recognition of your brilliant handling of this meeting.

I also wish to thank the whole Portuguese team – and in particular ANACOM – without whom the Forum might never have happened, and of course the ITU here in Lisbon and alsi in Geneva staff who put in a huge collective effort to ensure the lasting success of this Forum. I would like to thank the interpreters and of course the captioners. Who worked wit us virtually from the US.  Cindy and Marekay if you are listening we thank you.  This was the first WTPF we have ever captioned and I would like to thank my good friend Andrea Saks as this was her idea.

Finally, let me close by thanking you all for your spirit of cooperation and your dedication, and by wishing you a safe return home.

Thank you - Muito obrigado!