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

ITU TELECOM WORLD 2009: Heads of State Roundtable with CEOs
Geneva, Switzerland
6 October 2009

Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon,
Excellencies, distinguished colleagues,
The financial crisis is challenging all of us - governments, the private sector and international institutions.

Every crisis, however, brings with it fresh opportunities and I believe this crisis will not be different.

It will give birth to new institutions, revitalize communications and enable new entrants, new business models and new technologies to emerge.
The mobilization of our leaders to ensure recovery, repair the financial system and maintain growth is unprecedented.

Under the leadership of Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, the UN System has also analyzed the multiple facets of the crisis, touching upon the mandate of the different agencies and has agreed on nine initiatives to assist countries and the global economy to confront the crisis, accelerate recovery and pave the way for fairer and more sustainable globalization. 

I am proud to say that ITU played an active role in this process in emphasizing the contribution of ICTs to job creation, economic growth and increasing economic productivity and efficiency.

ITU‘s work contributes to the green economy initiative and the global jobs pact initiative. Most importantly, ITU leads the initiative on technology and innovation, in conjunction with WIPO and UNIDO and together with UNESCO and UNCTAD.

This important mobilization of the UN system is helping to reinforce the UN’s role as a unique forum where developing countries can play their part in debating and defining post-crisis scenarios.
Excellencies, distinguished colleagues,

Among a number of decisions, the G20 leaders meeting in Pittsburgh committed to moving toward greener and more sustainable growth.  Climate Change was also the theme of the very successful summit convened by Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon on 22 September.

In this context, during the Global Partnership Forum, and with some of you present there, I advocated the role that Information and Communication Technologies can play in this regard.

ICTs provide the means and opportunities for a green industry and a green economy.

Next generation networks, for example, could reduce energy requirements by up to 40 per cent, compared with today’s networks, through a combination of fewer switching centres, more modern equipment with multiple power modes, reduced requirements for air-conditioning, support for advance services, and more efficient routing of traffic.

Digital broadcasting, for its part, results in a massive – almost ten-fold – reduction in the power consumption of broadcasting transmitters. And the actual number of transmitters can also be reduced by transmitting several programmes in one frequency channel.

Key to adapting to climate change will also be better climate information. It will also have a direct impact on our ability to predict, prepare for and react to emergencies and disasters.

All these advancements will be done in close cooperation between governments, the private sector and key UN organizations. 
Excellencies, distinguished colleagues,

In a remarkably short space of time, information and communication technologies have become the keystone of modern society – as essential to development and prosperity as conventional networks such as transport, power and water.

ICTs have an integral role to play in fuelling economic recovery. They are a driving force for economic growth. New data storage, communication and transmission technologies have achieved sizeable and important productivity gains across other economic sectors.

In recognition of the importance of ICTs in generating economic growth, a number of countries have included substantial investments in broadband infrastructure as part of their economic stimulus packages, in addition to existing national broadband schemes. The role played by the private sector will be key.

As we can foresee with satisfaction advances in infrastructure deployment and the multiplication of all range of activity online we also need to make sure that the infrastructure is safe and that we are making good use of it.

We should also ensure that Broadband development will not lead to a new broadband digital divide.

In this regards, we should always remember the broad vision shared by all stakeholders at the World Summit on the Information Society to build a people centred, inclusive and development oriented Information Society.

We should keep in mind in particular the specific targets including connecting, by 2015, all villages around the world, and bringing ICT to all universities, schools, research centres, public libraries and other facilities, as well as clinics and hospitals.

Then we will be able to accelerate the achievement of  the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (or MDGs), which range from making extreme poverty history to putting all children into primary school, and from improving health care to ensuring environmental sustainability — all by 2015.

I am a strong believer that this will only be possible through partnership, and collaboration between civil society, private and public sector. This is also the reason why I am convening this round table today and I am delighted to welcome you here today.

I am convinced that our fruitful discussion will contribute to steering the political decision process in this critical transition period from crisis to recovery,

I thank you very much and let’s get started