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

ITU TELECOM WORLD 2009: Youth Forum Opening Ceremony
Geneva, Switzerland
4 October 2009

Ladies and gentlemen,
Youth Forum Fellows,


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 Society.

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 conditions.

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,
Young friends,

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 debated.

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 the sector.

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.

Thank you.