Speech from Mr Houlin Zhao, ITU Deputy Secretary-General
WTDC-10, Regional Preparatory Meeting for Europe
Andorra, 1 December 2009

Your Excellency, Minister Vinenç Alay Ferrer, Minister for Territorial Planning, Environment and Agriculture, Andorra,
Mr. Sami Al Basheer, Director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau of the International Telecommunication Union,
Mr. Jaume Salvat Font, CEO of Andorra Telecom,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Distinguished delegates,
On behalf of the ITU Secretary General, Dr Hamadoun I. Touré and the other ITU elected officials I would like to thank the Government of Andorra for their kind invitation to host the Europe Regional Preparatory Meeting (RPM) for the World Telecommunication Development Conference 2010 (WTDC10).

In spite of the global downturn, ITU has seen over the last year that our Member States continue to recognize the essential role that ICTs play in all areas of our daily lives and how important they are for social and economic development.

The World Telecommunication Policy Forum, in which most European countries participated, took place in Portugal in April and acknowledged the far-reaching importance of ICTs. It adopted 6 opinions and the Lisbon Consensus, which addressed telecommunications policy and regulatory issues associated with technological change and convergence.

This year’s TELECOM World 2009 brought together Heads of State, Heads of Governments, more than 90 Ministers, over 400 C-level executives and many ICT experts.  Spain, Belgium, France, UK, Switzerland, from the region, joined many developing countries to organize their national pavilions in the TELECOM Exhibition, which was more varied this year than we have ever had before.  The TELECOM Forum addressed many key issues, including the financial crisis, climate change, and cybersecurity.  We were pleased that despite the current global financial crisis, TELECOM World 09 was appreciated by the participants, many found it surprising.  ITU will continue its efforts to reform ITU TELECOM events in line with the guidelines laid down by the ITU Council Resolution 1292 (2008) and we will celebrate the 40th anniversary of ITU TELECOM in 2011.

The last ITU Council 2009 was held in Geneva from 21 to 30 October 09.  This Council-09 approved the budget for 2010-2011, adopted Resolutions on various aspects, set up Working Groups to take care of strategic plan 2011-2014, function of the ITU structure, etc.  It was a very successful meeting.
We were also pleased with the high turnout for the ITU Global Symposium for Regulators and the Global Industry Leaders Forum which took place in Beirut earlier this month.  The GSR stimulated a lively debate on regulatory issues and spoke of the pressing need for governments to open markets to greater competition and to use incentives to stimulate investment in broadband networks.

The Connect-CIS Summit was held in Minsk, Belarus, 26-27 November 2009.  Five Heads of States, 12 Ministers, many Vice Ministers, and Industry leaders were in attendance at this very successful conference.

Lastly, I’d like to mention an issue that is of great importance to me – that is maximizing the use of ICTs to mitigate climate change.  ITU is intensifying its action on climate change through standards for energy efficiency of ICT technologies, coordinating spectrum for climate monitoring and disaster prediction, detection and relief in addition to organizing workshops and seminars.  We have also been playing an active role in the preparation up to the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference and have called on all our Members to lobby for that the role of ICTs is recognized as part of the climate change solution in the Copenhagen output document.
Ladies and gentlemen,

I have spoken about some of the Union’s activities to illustrate the Union’s commitment worldwide to ICT development.  However, it is also a good illustration of just how varied and challenging the issues of the ICT Sector can be.  It is therefore important to give due attention to the evolving priorities and needs for successful ICT development.

ITU will hold its next Plenipotentiary Conference in Veracruz, Mexico in October 2010 and the next WTDC in Hyderabad, India in May 2010.  Both conferences will review the Union’s strategy and activities for the period 2011-2014.

The European countries form an integral part of the world that should follow all global activities. However, this region has its own characteristics and its own needs, which are not necessarily the same as in other regions.  This meeting is a great opportunity for you to make just such an assessment and a solid plan for the future of ITU, and prepare your inputs to those conferences.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation for the great efforts of the BDT staff under the leadership of Mr. Sami Al-Basheer, Director of the BDT, who have worked hard to organize theregional meetings of the RPMs, in particular during the past month of November, when they successfully organized the GILF/GSR in Beirut, then the CIS RPM,  followed by the Connect CIS in Minsk last week, and now immediately following, the RPM Europe here in Andorra. They have not had any rest in November and I offer them my personal appreciation.

I wish you a very successful meeting.

Thank you.