Speech from Mr Houlin Zhao, ITU
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to welcome you all to these UNDESA-GAID Open
Consultations. This meeting is taking place just one and a half weeks after the
UNDESA GAID Annual Meeting, held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 18 – 20 May,
As I have heard from Dr Toure, who had attended that meeting, it was an
interesting brainstorming on the future framework for the GAID. As I know many
important issues have already been addressed, some of them still stay open.
Therefore it is my hope that our sharing of ideas here will become a valuable
contribution to this process.
The fact that we hold this meeting within the framework of the WSIS Cluster
of Meetings gives us the hope that many of the contributions will come from the
multi-stakeholders offering interesting linkage to the ongoing WSIS process.
As you may know the ITU is committed to connecting the world and one of our
main missions is to enable evolution of telecommunications and information
networks around the world, so that everywhere, people can actively participate
in the global information society. That is why it is not surprising that ITU
whose mandate is to extend the benefits of ICTs to all of the world’s
inhabitants, took the leading role in the organization of the key event of this
decade - the World Summit on the Information Society held in two phases - in
Geneva in 2003 and Tunis in 2005. The Summit was an important landmark in the
global effort to eradicate poverty and to achieve the UN Millennium Development
Goals (MDG) by 2015. Since the Tunis Phase of WSIS, much progress has been made.
For example, the Connect Africa Summit, the first of ITU’s Connect the World
series, held in Kigali last year showed the extent of the commitment to
achieving the WSIS goals and was a huge step towards achieving an all-inclusive
However, we need to keep in mind that there is much more to be done and there
are only seven years remaining to 2015. All WSIS Stakeholders need to recognize
the fact that, in order to benefit from the capability of ICTs to act as a key
enabler for achieving MDG goals, we may need to be more ambitious in many
domains, for instance aiming to connect the unconnected by 2012.
Building on the existing multistakeholder spirit, all WSIS stakeholders need
to continue working together, focusing on concrete actions and projects in the
field of ICTs, supporting the development of the inclusive information society,
spurring investment, employment and broader human, social and economic
The ITU is welcoming the number of GAID activities, carried out in 2007,
which we see as an excellent result of the collaborative efforts of all
stakeholders involved in the work with UNDESA-GAID. We are confident that this
would not be possible without the deep involvement of Mr Craig Barret, Chairman
of Intel Corp. and UNDESA-GAID as well as the dedication and continuous support
to the activities of Mr Sha Zukang, Under-secretary-General of the United
Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA).
Many of the activities carried out in 2007/2008 have proven that the
UNDESA-GAID is becoming an efficient multi-stakeholder platform continuously
attracting new partners in joining forces in the work on the ICT issues. We note
that many of them are coming from the civil society and we strongly believe that
it will be possible to maintain this tendency in the future.
Organized by the ITU the World Summit on the Information Society, for the
first time in history gave to the civil society the possibility to be involved
in the process almost at the same level as the governments.
I am confident that the civil society has an important role in building an
all-inclusive Information Society and more visible and tangible involvement of
the civil society in the global initiatives, which mainstream the ICT issues
into the global development agenda. This might be with advantage for all parties
Now, being here, at the open consultations, it is our role to advise on the
appropriate directions to this multi-stakeholder platform. In order to avoid any
possible duplication of on-going efforts, we should be very clear in determining
the goals and scope of activities.
Bearing in mind that the Global Alliance for ICT and Development is a UNDESA
initiative, we need to focus on those issues which still have not been reflected
through existing mechanisms of the UN system or are out of its mandate.
With all its on-going and planned activities, the UNDESA-GAID demonstrates a great opportunity to the civil society to be part of the process mainstreaming the ICT issues into the global agenda. Therefore, I am confident, that we should do all our best in supporting UNDESA-GAID in its efforts to become an effective interface for the civil society.