Speech from Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, ITU Secretary-General

Telecommunication Standardization Advisory Group (TSAG)
Geneva, Switzerland
2 July 2008


I am pleased to be with you this morning at this especially important TSAG meeting, the last before WTSA in Johannesburg.

As you know ITU’s mission is to connect the world. I am proud of the strong resolve that TSAG has shown in supporting this number one goal of ITU.

In my address to TSAG in December last year I laid out the five key priorities that were identified by the new management team.

  • Bridging the digital divide

  • Stewardship of the radio spectrum

  • Adopting international standards to ensure seamless global communications and interoperability

  • Building confidence and security in the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs)

  • Emergency communications.

As a direct result of that last TSAG meeting ICTs and climate change has become an item to add to this list and is now very strongly fixed on our agenda. I am very appreciative of the drive that has come from TSAG and ITU-T on this topic and note with pleasure the excellent outcome of the recent symposiums in Kyoto and London.

Climate change is one of the major issues of our time and our key role in addressing the issue has been acknowledged by the UN Secretary-General.

ICTs are a contributor to global warming but more importantly they are the key to monitoring and mitigating its effects. At the end of the day, making the world a safer place to live and do business will be thanks to what we do here in ITU, on climate change as well as in areas such as cybersecurity, emergency telecommunications, accessibility etc. ITU is a place where words turn quickly into action, and in 6 months we have taken the initiative in this important area. I am pleased to see the proposal to set up a Focus Group to take forward the work on ICTs and climate change.

This year’s World Telecommunication and Information Society Day adopted the theme: “Connecting Persons with Disabilities: ICT Opportunities for All” to address the special requirements of persons with disabilities. Ever since the World Summit on the Information Society, urged Member States to address this issue it has been strongly on our agenda. The Doha Plan of Action also endorsed this commitment of building ICT capacity for all, including people with disabilities, through the promotion of universal, ubiquitous, equitable and affordable access to ICTs.

Again I must strongly commend ITU-T for its activity and leadership in this area, and I congratulate once again Andrea Saks, the convener of the JCA on Accessibility, on her recognition as one of this year’s laureates. It is another topic that we can add to the growing list of activities that ITU excels in.

Throughout its long history ITU has remained the preeminent global standards body for telecommunications, and now ICTs. The challenge is to make sure that it remains that way. I am sure that the decisions of the WTSA will reaffirm this position. It is a unique opportunity that only comes once every 4 years, and we must take maximum advantage of it.

This WTSA will be the first in Africa. It will be the first chaired by a woman (Ms Lyndall Shope-Mafole, Director-General of the South African Department of Communications who I am pleased to see is with us today), and for the first time is preceded by the Global Standards Symposium. WTSA-08 will also be unique in that the term limit for chairmanships agreed at the WTSA-2000 will apply for the first time and many of the current chairmen and vice-chairmen will retire. Although this will mean the loss of much experience, it does offer the opportunity to consider a major restructuring of the Sector. I await with interest the outcome of this TSAG meeting to see some ideas on a new structure for the Sector and I encourage open thinking on the issue and recognition of the need to reduce the number of study groups in the interest of reducing the resource burden on the ITU and its membership.

Ladies and Gentlemen

To have maintained the level of credibility and importance that ITU has achieved over so many years is an incredible feat. In today’s rich ICT environment it is even more remarkable. And visibility plays no small part in this achievement. We have spearheaded many initiatives to raise the profile of ITU in the public consciousness and I thank you all for your support in spreading the word of ITU and its core message to connect the world. For this reason I am especially pleased to see the proposal to this TSAG to establish an “ITU inside” concept, a mark, to show conformance to ITU-T Recommendations and interoperability, one of the founding reasons for the ITU. I wholeheartedly endorse this concept as an excellent tool to increase the visibility of ITU and help buyers make better informed choices.

I wish you a very successful meeting. You have an important role to play in the preparations for WTSA.

Good luck - let’s make this the start of a great new success for ITU-T!