Ladies and gentlemen,
Youth Forum Fellows,
Welcome to the ITU TELECOM WORLD YOUTH FORUM
It is always a pleasure and an inspiration to see so many young people gathered
together to give a fresh outlook on ICT issues. What they lack in experience
they more than make up for with enthusiasm and innovation and furthermore we are
all aware that it is our youth who will shape the future of the Information
You may know that the young men and women who are here today were selected on
the basis of the essays they wrote on the following question: “What is the
biggest problem facing your community and how would you use information and
communication technologies (ICT) to solve it?”.
The answers to that question proved to be imaginative, innovative and often very
touching. As we, the various stakeholders in the ICT Sector, work
together, often at the highest level, to develop strategies for bringing the
benefits of ICTs to all the world’s people, we sometimes lose sight of the every
day problems of ordinary people that could be solved by ICTs.
These essays speak of the role of ICTs in providing information on such issues
as HIV infection, or how the mobile phone can be used to pass messages quickly
to stop the spread of an epidemic. Many speak of overcoming poverty
or providing equal opportunities and how ICTs can help.
Some look at ways of bridging the cultural divide, or how ICTs can help people
with disabilities carry out every day tasks. Others suggest ways of tracing
livestock, or tracking products to ensure that they were produced in acceptable
It is deeply encouraging to see how conscious our Youth Forum Fellows are of the
world’s problems and how willing they are to look for solutions, in particular
through the use of ICTs.
My strong belief in the power of the youth is shared by the United Nations
Secretary-General. Indeed, so much so, that he plans to join us tomorrow in the
policy and regulation session “Connect a School, Connect a Community”.
This is, of course, a great honour for us.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We have a very busy week ahead of us and I hope that you will make the most of
the wealth of opportunities for you here to explore, in the Youth Forum, on the
exhibition floor, and in the Forum, where many interesting topics will be
In the context of the global economic crisis, the TELECOM Forum will look at the
role of the ICT Sector in managing the downturn as well as providing a platform
for new growth. It is an opportunity for telecommunication and ICT
stakeholders to debate key issues that will define strategies for development of
I am delighted to have started the full and varied week of TELECOM here at the
Youth Forum. I wish you the very best not only with the Forum, but with your
other activities during the event. I would like to thank our Swiss Hosts for the
hospitality offered to our Youth Fellows and express my gratitude for the
generous sponsorship from CISCO, ISOC and Nokia Siemens.
I will be very much looking forward to seeing the Youth Declaration that comes
out of this Forum and I hope we will all return home enriched by a sharing of
knowledge and commitment to common goals.