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

ITU/ATU Meeting on WRC Preparation
Geneva, Switzerland
14 September 2009

Mr Secretary-General of the ATU,
Mr Director of the BR,
Mr Chairman,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great satisfaction and opportunity for me today to address such a distinguished audience of delegates from Member States, Sector members, business leaders and technical experts, and to share with you my dreams and aspirations for the next World Radiocommunication Conference in 2012, which is a crucial event for ITU and its membership, as well as for the future of communications technologies in general.

The key objectives of WRC-12 include:

  • The review of the international regulatory framework applicable to radiocommunications, as established in Resolution 951 (Rev. WRC-07).This should reflect the convergence of some radio services with the development of next-generation networks for new radio applications using new radio technologies.

  • The identification of the best use of the digital dividend in the UHF and other frequency bands and the opportunities that it gives for different radiocommunication services in those frequency bands.

  • WRC-12 will also identify solutions to accommodate the new spectrum requirements necessary to achieve increasing transportation security for both maritime and aeronautical services.

  • WRC-12 should also aim at providing additional spectrum resources and required protection for scientific and other radiocommunication services, which are key services for operations related to the Environment, Meteorology and Climatology, as well as to disaster prediction, mitigation and relief.

With the identification of solutions to these issues and to the reduction of ICT’s environmental impact, for example with the introduction of more digital services requiring less power consumption, WRC-12 will be a milestone for the ITU to meet its commitment for achieving climate neutrality with the use of ICTs as effective tools to combat and reduce Climate Change and its effects.

Many of these issues were discussed earlier this year at the very successful 4th World Telecommunication Policy Forum in Portugal, where we reached the Lisbon Consensus which recognized the far-reaching importance of ICTs in extending the benefits of the Information Society for all. Out of the six Opinions adopted unanimously by the 828 participants at the Forum, two are particularly related to some of the key WRC-12 objectives I have just mentioned. They relate to ICTs and the Environment (opinion 3) and to the implications of the advent of next-generation networks (NGNs) and advanced broadband access (opinion 2).

Just prior to WTPF-09, we held a High-Level strategic dialogue on ICTs with the theme Confronting the Crisis. The event sought to formulate proactive strategies to help the ICT sector weather the storm, as well as leveraging the power of ICTs to accelerate economic recovery in other sectors.

In making deicisons on some of its agenda items, such as the one dealing with Short Range radio Devices, WRC-12 will also contribute to achieving the ITU goal of connecting people with disabilities. Standardization has indeed an important role to play in the development of interference-free radiocommunication equipments and applications in this area to ensure affordability, accessability, compatibility, portability and availability. With an estimated 10 per cent of the world’s population – or around 650 million people – living with a disability, this represents a significant communication challenge.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Allow me to conclude with one concern: WRC-12 will only be held three years ahead of 2015 – the WSIS target date to connect all villages, all towns and all cities of the world and to achieve the United Nation Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Unfortunately, the possibility of not meeting the MDGs is very real, but if there is a chance to meet these goals we must rely on ICTs to accelerate the process and bridge the digital divide.

ICTs are omnipresent tools with profound implications for all economic sectors. The way we communicate, do business or engage in leisure activities is in constant and rapid evolution. The convergence of broadcasting, telecommunication and information technologies creates more potent and effective tools. However, convergence requires a well-developed state-of-the-art ICT infrastructure.

To meet this challenge, ITU and its partners have launched the Connect the World series. The first of the planned regional summits was the Connect Africa Summit held in Kigali, Rwanda in October 2007, and preparations are now well underway for the Connect CIS Summit which will take place in Minsk, Republic of Belarus in November. We will then move to other parts of the world with Connect Americas, Connect Arab States and Connect Asia Pacific. The decisions that you will be taking during WRC-12 will largely contribute to improving access and the development of ICT infrastructure.

Among other important ITU events coming up let me just briefly mention:

  • ITU TELECOM World 2009, which will be held in just three weeks in Geneva. Through its theme of Open Networks - Connected Minds, it conveys our common purpose, including openness, connectedness, and collaboration and co-operation across all stakeholders – with the view to highlight the reach and role of telecommunications and ICT in areas of societal change such as the digital divide, climate change, and disaster relief.

  • Shortly after ITU TELECOM World 2009, we will hold the 2009 session of the ITU Council, which will in particular review and approve the draft biennium budget of the Union for the period 2010-2011 and establish the process for the elaboration of the draft Strategic and Financial plans of the Union for the period 2012-2015.

Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

I am confident that the preparation for WRC-12 is a successful process due to the involvement and efforts of all of you, from Member States, Sector members, business leaders and technical experts.

I am sure that further progress will be made during this meeting to enhance the mutual understanding of the different preliminary positions and prirorities for WRC-12, with the view to continue the ITU art of compromise at our next Conference. And I wish you a very successful meeting.