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)
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
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
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!