Committed to connecting the world



  • New York, United States of America  23 September 2019
    United Nations General Assembly

    The annual gathering of the United Nations General Assembly took place in New York in September.  During the High-level week, there were five summits that focused on Climate Action, Universal Health Coverage, Sustainable Development Goals, Financing for Development and Small Island Developing States. ITU held several high-level events and engagements. Here are some of the highlights:

    Broadband Commission
    The Broadband Commission held its Annual Full Meeting on 22 September. Some 45 Commissioners and representatives attended the session. During the meeting, the 2019 edition of the State of Broadband Report was released. The report advocates for new collaborative strategies to drive the concept of 'meaningful universal connectivity' through greater emphasis on resource sharing and a more holistic approach that treats broadband as a basic public utility and vital enabler of global development.

    The third meeting of the EQUALS Global Partnership for Gender Equality in the Digital Age was held in New York on the periphery of the 73rd UN General Assembly. Over 60 members met to discuss plans for the partnership in 2020, including Bejing+25. The partnership’s four coalitions have selected 14projects to undertake in line with Beijing +25.

    Global Board Meeting of Generation Unlimited (GenU)
    Our time, Our turn, Our future. Having recently been appointed as a Champion of UNICEF’s Generation Unlimited initiative, I attended my 1st Board Meeting.  50 of the Board members were present. We were each given one minute to announce our commitments. I spoke about our commitment toadvance school connectivity together with UNICEF. A big focus is on digital skills, future of work and youth engagement.  We will develop a clear plan to best leverage the opportunity.  The World Bank pledged $1 billion.

    Boosting manufacturing in Africa in the Fourth Industrial Revolution
    The High- level event was co-hosted by UNIDO, the African Union Commission (AUC), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and ITU.  Several UN agency heads, and Heads of State were in attendance.  An invitation was also extended to Broadband Commissioners and many commissioners were present. I had the opportunity to deliver opening remarks on behalf of the SG focusing on the need for leadership and commitment, partnerships, trust, digital skills for all and meaningful connectivity as critical to bridging digital divides in Africa to enable the continent to reach its huge potential.  Participants underlined that Africa has been passive participants in the digital economy, thus, the need to promote innovative solutions, Africa free trade, infrastructure development, as the fourth industrial revolution is paramount to overcome the challenges of Africa.

    Annual Ministerial Meeting of Foreign Ministers of Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs)
    The Annual Ministerial Meeting of Foreign Ministers of Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) was convened by Paraguay Chair of the Group of LLDCs. Foreign Ministers of the LLDCs focused on the “Midterm review of the Vienna Programme of Action (VPoA): Renewed strength to accelerate implementation and transformation in LLDCs.” It was noted that while there has been progress, it remains slow and not enough to achieve the SDGs by 2030. While ICT connectivity has improved, it remains unaffordable to most.  To achieve the objectives of the Vienna Programme of Action joint actions innovative solutions of all the relevant stakeholders, including the LLDCs, transit countries, development partners, UN System organizations and the private sector must be put in place. ITU was given the opportunity to address the Ministers on the enabling power of ICT as a critical driver of development and progress towards the SDG.  I urged all governments to make meaningful universal connectivity an integral part of national sustainable development strategies, and to prioritize broadband connectivity as a powerful driver of national development to accelerate progress around the Vienna Plan of Action. Bhutan Minister spoke of their efforts in ICTs to leapfrog. Zimbabwe spoke of their latest broadband project.

    Small Island Developing States Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway
    A one-day High-Level Midterm Review of the progress made in addressing the priorities of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) through the implementation of the SAMOA Pathway was held. Leaders underlined the crucial importance of providing financial resources to SIDS, building economic and environmental resilience, access to ICTs, STI, emerging technologies, environmental sound technologies, technology transfer, and strengthen partnerships to support SIDS and overcome their challenges. They also called for collective actions for resources mobilization, for guaranteeing a better world for everyone and everywhere, building institutional and human capacity, while recognizing the leadership, and deeds of SIDS in fast-forwarding the Implementation of the SAMOA Pathway and pledge to redouble efforts to not leave no one behind. World leaders endorsed a political declaration aimed at protecting small island developing States from the impacts of climate change and fast-forwarding sustainable development in SIDS.