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

GSC-14 Global Standards Collaboration
Geneva, Switzerland
13 July 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen, dear colleagues,

I am very pleased to be with you this morning to open this important event. This is the 14th meeting of GSC, the Global Standards Collaboration, but the first time that ITU is its host, so welcome to sunny Geneva and ITU.

ITU’s mission is Committed to connecting the World.

Last year's World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly recognized that ITU's work on global standards were essential to us fulfilling our mission.

And connecting the world will be of vital importance in these dramatic times.

Not only is the world experiencing the fall-out from the collapse of the biggest speculative bubble in history with an ensuing economic slowdown resulting in millions of unemployed and a sharp slump in international trade but also, posing even greater long-term threat, is the impact of climate change and its devastating link with natural disasters of which we have witnessed an increasing number in recent years.

Fulfilling ITU’s commitment to connect the world is the priority of the ITU management team – of which you see here on the podium Malcolm Johnson, the Director of the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau and Dr Valery Timofeev, the Director of the Radiocommunication Bureau. Unfortunately, Mr Houlin Zhao, the Deputy Secretary General and Mr Sami Al-Basheer, the Director of the Development Bureau, could not be with you this morning.

ICTs play a crucial role in these difficult times. In this respect, the ITU Management Team has identified the following key priorities for ITU:

  • 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)

  • Use of ICTs to mitigate the detrimental effects of climate change

  • Emergency communications

When asked what they consider mankind’s most impressive undertakings, people respond with, for example, the landing of man on the moon – next Monday, 20th July, is the 40th anniversary of this historic event – or the deciphering of the human genome, or the building of the pyramids.

Not many would cite the communications network though. Today, we take it for granted that you can call anyone at any time at any place on Earth and as such, you could probably argue that the communication network is mankind’s most astounding achievement.

And it continues to develop at an ever increasing speed. We can all be proud to have contributed to this wonder of the world.

The communications network would not have come about if it weren’t for standards and for the global management of the radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbits. Interoperability is key, and it is reflected in the theme of this GSC, “Fostering worldwide interoperability”.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am an optimist. In every crisis there are new opportunities. And by working together we can overcome challenges much more easily and make the world a better place. So I applaud that the senior leaders from national, regional and international standards bodies get together this week for a strategic dialogue in support of the work of ITU to plan future standards development, to gain synergy and to reduce duplication. Resources are scarce. We need to work together.

I wish you a very successful meeting.