Speech from Mr Houlin Zhao, ITU Deputy Secretary-General
WTDC-10, CIS Regional Preparatory Meeting
Minsk, Belarus, 23 November 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Distinguished delegates,
On behalf of the ITU Secretary General and other ITU elected officials I would like to thank the Government of the Republic of Belarus and the Ministry of Communications and Informatization for their kind invitation to host these two major ITU events – the CIS Regional Preparatory Meeting and the “Connect CIS” Summit.

I am grateful that today’s RPM has also given me the opportunity to make my first visit to Belarus, which I am told is called the country of a thousand lakes and white storks.

I know that CIS’s telecom sector has been very dynamic in the last few years, with an impressive ICT growth rate. This RPM and the Connect CIS Summit that follows will be a chance to consolidate the good progress already made and give added impetus for future ICT development.

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 CIS 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.  Azerbaijan, Russian Federation and Ukraine all participated 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.  The Youth Forum attracted some 300 young people and representatives of some developing countries were sponsored to participate in ICT development sessions of TELECOM.  CIS Members actively participated in those activities.

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, with over 600 participants.  The GSR stimulated a lively debate on regulatory issues and spoke of the pressing need for governments to open markets to greater competition and use incentives to stimulate investment in broadband networks.  My colleague, the Director of the BDT, and his staff will offer you further information.

Just last week ITU was attending the Internet Governance Forum in Sharm El Sheikh.  For Internet governance to be effective it must be based on a frank discussion on globally applicable principles. Among other matters, a large part of ITU’s involvement in the IGF was in Cybersecurity, an issue which certainly demands global coordination and for which we are working under the framework of our Global Cybersecurity Agenda.

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 and many capacity-building and knowledge sharing seminars.  We have also been playing an active role in the lead up to the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference and have called on all our Members to make sure 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 this selection 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.

As you know, 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 CIS countries form an integral part of the world which 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 perfect opportunity for you to make just such an assessment and a solid plan for the future. I would like to encourage the Members of CIS to be more active in ITU activities, including contributing to the three Sectors as well as to our cross-sector activities.

Please allow me to take this opportunity to express my appreciation for the great efforts of the BDT staff from both Headquarters and the Regional and Area Offices, under the strong leadership of Mr. Sami Al-Basheer, Director of the BDT, towards improving the connectivity of this region as well as making this meeting a success. 

I wish you a very successful meeting.

Thank you.