Speech from Mr Houlin Zhao, ITU Deputy Secretary-General

WTPF 2009: Informal Expert Group

Geneva, Switzerland
24 June 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the ITU Secretary-General, Dr. Touré, is my pleasure to welcome you here in Geneva and to the ITU for this first meeting of the Informal Expert Group of the WTPF.

As you probably know, this is the 4th World Telecommunication Policy Forum organized by ITU. This forum has a well established history of successfully promoting discussion of emerging policy issues. We want to make sure that we keep up that tradition.

As you may know the Policy Forum is very different from usual ITU meetings

  • Member States and Sector Members participate on an equal footing
  • There is a single working document on the Agenda;
  • The outcome is not a technical recommendation or a Resolution, but rather an “opinion”, a non-binding outcome that might be described as a “rough consensus”.

In previous Forums, this has led us to adopt forward looking opinions on new issues such as Trade in Telecommunication and IP Telephony.

Usually, however, we only have to focus on a single theme. For next year’s forum, we have quite a challenging task ahead of us, as – at the request of the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference – we have not one, but four themes:

  • Convergence including Internet-related public policy matters
  • Next Generation Network
  • Emerging telecommunication policy and regulatory issues
  • International Telecommunication Regulations

While these themes are not really new and quite broad in scope, it will be this group’s task to assist the Secretary-General in building a successful WTPF. The primary focus for today is to discuss the second draft of the Secretary Genera’s report, as it will form the basis for the forum. I’d like to thank all of you at this point for the valuable contributions and comments you have already made to this report.

There should also be time for some preliminary discussions on the Information session as well as the Forum’s programme.

In terms of the set-up, I would like to encourage you to propose ways to make this next WTPF as attractive as possible on the content side as much as on its format. Let’s try to avoid the temptation to revert to a drafting Forum or a forum with lengthy speeches only.

Finally, on behalf of the Secretary General, I would like to propose that Mr. Mario Franco from Portugal takes the chairmanship of the Expert Group. Mr. Franco is a senior adviser on telecommunication matters to the Ministry for Public Works, transports and Communications. He has also coordinated the Telecommunication related initiatives during the Portuguese EU Presidency. I am sure he will be extremely capable in guiding the work of the Informal Expert Group.

I hope that this nomination meets with approval from all of you.

I would also like to take this opportunity to inform you that Portugal has generously offered to host WTPF in Lisbon from 20 to 24 April 2009. The consultation of ITU Council Member States is under way and I would like to recall that Members are invited to respond to this consultation by 30 June 2008.

Before passing this meeting on to Mr. Franco, I would like to say how much I am looking forward to engaging in some stimulating discussion and innovative thinking. I am certain that we will have a dynamic and fruitful WTPF-09.

I wish you a successful meeting