Speech from Mr Houlin Zhao, ITU Deputy Secretary-General

Radiocommunication Advisory Group
Geneva, Switzerland
13 February 2008

Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentleman,

It is a pleasure for me to be here with you at the opening of the 15th meeting of the Radiocommunication Advisory Group meeting. On behalf of the Secretary-General and the other elected officials I would like to welcome you to Geneva to attend the RAG meeting. The Secretary General is presently in Barcelona to chair some sessions of the GSMA Conference. He sends his regrets, but he promotes the ITU’s work in the world mobile communication community, which ITU R is proud of.

As Chinese, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy New Year. This wish is not a late one, as the Chinese celebrated its New Year on 7 February 2008. Today is the first day they return to work after their New Year holiday of seven days. Anyhow, better late than never.

2007 was a busy and fruitful year for the ITU. You will find information on last year’s achievements in the 2007 Corporate Annual Report, produced for the first time this year. Among many of its achievements, the Radiocommunication Assembly and the WRC 07 are two of the most important events in 2007. I would like to take this opportunity to extend our sincere congratulations to Mr. Yao, newly elected Chairman of RAG and to the other Vice-Chairmen of RAG. I wish you all the success in your role.

Early last year the ITU’s management team identified 5 key priorities:

  • stewardship of the radio spectrum, on behalf of our membership, through global treaties; (in this regard, the WRC-07 is to be considered as a key landmark in the ITU history);

  • adopting international standards to ensure seamless global communications and interoperability (and your Sector can be proud of many standardization successes, as the IMT process);

  • bridging the digital divide, through infrastructure projects, capacity building and assisting our Member States in developing an enabling regulatory environment;

  • building confidence and security in the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs); and

  • emergency communications to develop early warning systems and provide access to communications during and after natural disasters (where both RA-07 and WRC-07 took important steps to give your ITU-R an active role in assisting disaster relief).

To this, I would like to add the important role that ITU has to play in the area of ICTs and Climate Change.

Ban Ki-Moon, United Nations Secretary-General, emphasized ITU’s role in this area when visiting ITU in July last year. He described climate change as the “moral challenge of our generation”. The ITU, through its membership, is well placed to respond to this challenge and take a lead in showing how ICTs can assist in monitoring, mitigating and adapting to climate change. The importance that our members give to ITU’s role in Climate Change was reflected in the discussions at the WRC and the RA last year. A study of a proposed ITU strategy in relation to Climate Change has already been initiated and the mandate of the Inter-Sectoral Emergency Communications Team, which I have the honour to chair, has been expanded to cover the issue. Each Sector has its role to play on the consideration of ICTs and the environment.

2007 has shown what it is to work together as one ITU. Our aim is to ensure that this smooth cooperation between the three Sectors of the ITU continues, while getting the right support and services for the General Secretariat and avoiding duplication, so as to meet the needs of you, our members, in the most efficient way possible.

We worked hard together to prepare a balanced budget and Council’s approval of the budget, without any amendment, was an encouraging demonstration of support for the ITU’s management team.

With such a solid base, we are ready to take on the challenges ahead.

The ITU management team is fully committed to achieving the goals of the Union and meeting the needs of our members, but the extent of our success will depend on team work, not just among management, but throughout the staff of the ITU. With this in mind, and under the initiative of the Secretary General a retreat was organized that took place at the end of this week, where senior management of the ITU got together to share a common vision for the Union, and to strengthen team spirit. I am very pleased to share with you the good news that the retreat meeting was a complete success. The atmosphere was excellent. The results were very encouraging. The Radiocommunication Sector was cited as having a crucial role in the core mandate of ITU and your achievements being a good example of successful team work.

The team of Elected Officials is confident that we will take ITU to the highest dimension ever. To do this, we need and appreciate not only your confidence but also your very active participation in the work of the ITU.

Dear Delegates,

I see a heavy agenda for the next three days. I know that the new RAG officers, the Director of the BR and his staff have been working hard to ensure the success of this meeting. I leave you in their capable hands and wish you all the success in your discussions over the next three days.

Thank you.