Speech from Mr Houlin Zhao, ITU Deputy Secretary-General

CSTD - Eleventh Session
Follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society
Presentation by Action Line Facilitators

Geneva, Switzerland
29 May 2008

Thank you Mr. Chairman for giving me the opportunity to report on the implementation of the Action Lines facilitated by ITU.

In line with paragraph 109 of the Tunis Agenda, and as Leading Facilitating Agency, I would also like to report on the outcomes of the third Action Line Facilitators meeting held on 23rd May.

Mr. Chairman,

As ITU has already contributed extensively to the Secretary-general’s Report on progress made in the implementation – and follow-up – of the outcomes of the WSIS, I am not going to report on the activities already covered by this document. Instead, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the outcomes of the successful facilitation meetings organized by the Union last week.

In organizing the Action Line Facilitation meetings this year, ITU was guided by the following objectives:

  • Raise the level of participation
  • Facilitate the exchange of best practices and innovative experiences
  • Facilitate concrete networking opportunities for participants
  • Address emerging issues
  • Facilitate remote participation

Attendance at these meetings was good and I am happy to say that – though they present challenges – we are extremely pleased by the outcomes of the Action Line Facilitation meetings.

The Action Line C2 meeting was particularly successful in attracting new people. One of its innovations this year was the organization of an “Ambassadors’ Round Table” followed by a dynamic discussion with stakeholders.

The Action Line C6 meeting was organized for the first time by ITU as the Union took over the lead facilitator’s role. The meeting was an opportunity for ITU, UNCTAD, IGF, the private sector, regulators and NGO to recognize:

  1. the need for an integrated approach in implementing the WSIS outcomes;
  2. the need to harmonize legal and institutional environments, at both a national and international level.

The meeting also focused on infrastructure sharing at both national and international levels, drawing upon the major outcomes of the last ITU Global Symposium for Regulators, held in March 2008 in Thailand.

The Action Line C7 on e-environment was organized jointly with UNEP. Particular attention was given to the strong, positive role that ICT can play in combating climate change, both in terms of achieving greater efficiency in its own sector, as well as serving as an enabling technology for energy reductions in other sectors. This meeting kicked off the facilitation of this important Action Line. ITU is pleased that UNEP is considering taking the lead role in the future.

Lastly, ITU organized a two-day meeting on Action Line C5. An innovative feature of the first day of this meeting was the organization of interactive panel sessions directed at current and emerging threats and solutions. Multi-stakeholder panels, made up of world renowned cybersecurity experts from governments, industry, international organizations, academia and civil society debated and exchanged views on cybersecurity issues and possibilities while encouraging open and dynamic discussions with the rest of the participants. The second day was dedicated to stakeholders’ presentations on initiatives, followed by discussions focused on identifying goals and effective performance measurement and reporting mechanisms – all with an eye towards building security and confidence in the use of ICTs. There were specific proposals to boost trust through technical solutions, legal and technical frameworks, awareness raising activities, and partnership building.

Mr. Chairman,

Last Friday we also held the third meeting of Action Line Facilitators. The primary objectives of the meeting were to exchange information among facilitators and other stakeholders on the Action Line Facilitation process, and to identify ways to improve the process.
The meeting was jointly chaired by ITU, UNESCO and UNDP.

It was a candid, but extremely productive meeting.

Participants expressed their concerns about the actual format and I have to stress that a real common willingness for change emerged from the meeting.

We also had a very fruitful discussion on how to change and improve the process. I would like to share some of the proposals with you:

  • Change the name of the Cluster of WSIS-related events to something more appealing; and clearly express the objectives of the meetings. Proposed names included:

    o “WSIS Implementation conference”

    o “the information Society forum”.

  • To concentrate on a number of themes and not necessarily on Action Lines. The IGF format could be a model.
  • To shorten the duration of the meeting. The cluster should be concentrated in one week.
  • Each Action Line should set up a steering Committee including the different constituencies (proposal from ITU)
  • A global steering committee should also be established including the different constituencies to coordinate the organization of the meetings.

The results of this meeting will be conveyed to the next UNGIS meeting to be held in September. We also decided that ITU, together with UNESCO, UNDP and the other UN agencies, will hold an open consultation to discuss ways to further improve the cluster of WSIS-related events and to determine concrete measures. We have already decided that the next cluster will take place in Geneva in May of next year.

As mentioned by ITU Secretary-General in his opening speech, if we are to meet the WSIS goals, we need to be more daring. Let’s organize dynamic and forward-looking Action Line meetings that will help us to grab the attention of decision makers and highlight our efforts to build an inclusive information Society.


I thank you for your attention.