Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to provide an up-date on the results of the Outcomes of
the WSIS Forum 2009, held from 18 to 22 May 2009 in Geneva, organized by the
ITU, UNESCO, UNCTAD and hosted by the ITU.
This event built upon the tradition of annual WSIS May meetings, and its new
format was a result of the open consultations with all WSIS Stakeholders. With
its new name and its new format, the “WSIS Forum” aimed at achieving more
inclusiveness, more action and more focus on concrete results, oriented towards
implementation of the WSIS outcomes.
We started the week with a high level opening ceremony on ICTs and MDGs with our
UN partners and many Ministers – and our friend Nicolas Negroponte who has
challenged us to connect children at no cost. This was followed by the World
Telecommunication and Information Society Day Ceremony.
We were so honored that Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden had accepted our
invitation to be the patron of the 2009 World Telecommunication and Information
Society Day. Queen Silvia was the founder of the World Childhood Foundation and
has a grand vision of the future of children in the digital age. During the
ceremony we awarded three eminent personalities, H.E. Mr Luiz Inacio Lula de
Silva, President of the Federative Republic of Brazil, Ms Deborah Taylor Tate,
International Advocate for ICT Child Safety Issues , and Mr Robert G. Conway,
CEO, GSMA, for their exceptional contributions towards protecting children in
On the same occasion within the framework of the Child Online Protection (COP)
initiative, the first release of the Draft Guidelines for policy-makers,
industry, parents, guardians, educators, and children on child online safety
During the Forum itself, we were pleased to welcome close to 600 delegates from
around 100 countries, who contributed to the many debates in a spirit of
constructive multi-stakeholder partnership. Around 40 per cent of the
participants represented governments, including many ministers, ambassadors, and
the directors of the leading ICT authorities. 30 per cent came from civil
society, 20 per cent from international organizations, and more than 10 per cent
from the private sector. In addition many of the WSIS stakeholders, who could
not join us in Geneva, followed the event through live web-casts and interacted
with us electronically.
The Forum built on a number of High-Level Panels, which addressed some of the
most important issues we face at a global level, including Accessing Knowledge,
Financial Mechanisms in the Economic Downturn, Cybersecurity, Climate Change,
ICT Applications for Better Life. The panels were followed by several WSIS
Action Line Facilitation Meetings and thematic workshops. In total more than 35
sessions contributed to the development of much a better understanding of needs
for future action and the way forward. Several kick-off meetings and speed
exchanges held throughout the week concluded with the initiation of partnerships
and cooperation agreements. Several initiatives and platforms have been
officially launched, including UNESCO WSIS Community Platform, ITU Academy,
several WSIS Thematic Platforms.
Friday meeting of the WSIS Action Line Facilitators appreciated new format of
the Forum, drawing attention to the importance of interactivity during such
events. Written briefings from the WSIS Action Line meetings and covering the
progress made since May 2008 are going to be posted on the event’s web site. The
meeting in general endorsed the need for forward looking branding of WSIS
implementation process and for preparation to the mid term review.
The WSIS Forum 2009 concluded with a meeting of the United Nations Group on the
Information Society (UNGIS), created by the CEB after the Tunis phase of the
WSIS. UNGIS was chaired over the past year by UNESCO and ITU will take the chair
for the next year. The meeting provided an opportunity to advance the group’s
objective of coordinating substantive and policy issues facing the United
Nations system’s implementation of the outcomes of the WSIS. Following the
adoption of GA Resolution A/RES/62/208, which refers to “Strengthening UN role
in facilitating access of developing countries to new and emerging
technologies”, the group also planned concrete actions to respond to the
decisions of the High-Level Committee on Programmes (HLCP) to expand the mandate
of UNGIS .
I was pleased to see that UNGIS has been re-energized. The meeting
- a revised terms of reference for the group expanding the mandate to
include science and technology,
- Members agreed on a concrete work programme which includes carrying out
an open consultation on financial mechanisms
- UNGIS agreed to work on three joint initiatives – open access to
scientific knowledge; child on-line protection; and science, technology, and
- UNGIS will have an important role to play over the next year as we head
towards a mid-term review of WSIS implementation next year.
Concluding, all results achieved during the whole last week are very
satisfactory, which is especially important given that only six years remain to
2015. World leaders at WSIS recognized the vital role of ICTs in achieving the
United Nations Millennium Development Goals (or MDGs), and entrusted all of us
with an important mission which must be achieved on time.
The next year – 2010 – is a key date for all of us, as it will mark the half-way
point between the Tunis phase of WSIS and 2015, when the United Nations General
Assembly will review how WSIS outcomes and the MDGs have been implemented.
The MDGs not only recognize the potential of ICTs as a development enabler but
also highlight the importance of “cooperation to make the benefits of ICTs
available to all”. This gives the WSIS Forum, which is based on an open and
multi-stakeholder approach, a particularly important role. In this context, it
is necessary that we already start the preparation of the mid term review.
The success of this year’s Forum and the dedication of the WSIS stakeholders
gives me great hope. By working together, we will be able to achieve the
WSIS goals by the target date. At the same time, I strongly believe that in some
areas such as connectivity, the goals should be achieved much earlier, and that
it is feasible to make all villages, towns and cities connected by 2012 – which
is three years ahead of the Millennium Development Goals. And as you know,
ICTs underpin the way forward to achieve the other Millennium Development Goals.
I would like to convey my special thanks to all WSIS stakeholders, who have done
so much to facilitate this Forum. I would also like to express my great
appreciation to all our partners, and in particular UNESCO and UNCTAD, with whom
we joined forces to organize this Forum.
Thank you very much for your attention.