Speech from Mr Houlin Zhao, ITU Deputy Secretary-General

Follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society:
Special multi-stakeholders panel discussion

Geneva, Switzerland
27 May 2008

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure on behalf of the ITU to welcome you all at this particular session on the Broadband and Cybersecurity organized jointly by the ITU, CSTD, and GAID. We are happy that we have an opportunity to address the issues of broadband and cybersecurity within the framework of the 11th Session of the CSTD and it is our hope that it will help in mainstreaming the ICT issues into the global development agenda.

In fact it is not a coincidence that we have picked up these two particular issues. The ITU continues to carry out numerous activities relevant to all WSIS Action Lines, simultaneously following special mandate given during the WSIS process to take the lead role in two Action Lines, namely “Information and communication infrastructure” (Action Line C2) and “Building confidence and security in the use of ICTs” (Action Line C5). These two WSIS Action Lines for which ITU is sole Facilitator are closely related to the ITU’s work towards its strategic goals of “Bridging the Digital Divide” and “Safeguarding Networks”.

For some years now, the ICT sector has been experiencing a massive transition towards broadband technologies, while at the same time setting new standards in terms of connectivity, services, and possible socio-economic benefits. World leaders recognized the fact that this trend is relevant not only for developed economies but also for developing countries and economies in transition and that there is a need for all stakeholders to work together, focusing on concrete actions and projects to extend ICT networks and access as a means of spurring investment, employment and broader human, social and economic development.

There are only seven years left to meet the Millennium Development Goals target date of 2015 and in order to benefit from the capability of ICTs to act as a key enabler for achieving those goals, we may need to be even more ambitious, aiming to connect the unconnected by 2012. Therefore much more focus to these issues is needed in order to be able to attract all stakeholders in joining the forces and creation of the win-win partnerships as it has happened during the Connect Africa Summit, the first summit of the ITU Connect Series.

As for Cybersecurity, it is essential for the ITU to ensure that the progress made in the use of ICTs as a vehicle for social and economic development is not disrupted by emerging threats to the information society. To address these threats, Dr Hamadoun Toure, the ITU Secretary General launched last year the Global Cybersecurity Agenda, an ITU framework for international cooperation, aimed at proposing strategies for solutions to enhance confidence and security in the information society.

The Agenda takes into account the broad and global nature of the challenges to be addressed and facilitated through cooperation among all relevant stakeholders within five broad areas of work: Legal, Technical, Organizational, Capacity Building and International Cooperation. We encourage all stakeholders - manufacturers, service providers, international organizations, public and non-governmental organizations as well as policy makers - to join the forces and use all possible means to create more fair world with equal opportunities for the citizens of our planet.

On 21 May, the HLEG of the GCA met and agreed on the deadline for the elaboration of global strategies and recommendations to ITU SG. The 3rd Action Line Facilitation meeting for C5 (22-23 May) brought together more than 120 participants who through interactive discussions, elaborated concrete proposals, endorsed and ITU GCA initiative and emphasized a strong and more active ITU.

As we all know the potential for ICTs as a catalyst for economic and social development is enormous, but things change quickly in the ICT sector and it is sometimes hard to keep up. Given the rapid changes in information technology it is essential for small countries to develop common strategies to confront increasing global economic challenges and turn those challenges into opportunities. Having said all that I am ensuring you that the ITU is committed to connecting the world and will continue to work to mobilize the technical, financial and human resources needed to make the global information society a reality.