ITU Regional Development Forum for Europe
Rome, Italy, 6 May 2019
Director, Telecommunication Development Bureau
International Telecommunication Union
Excellency Ms Dorina Cinari Deputy Minister of Infrastructure and Energy, Albania,
Dr Eva Spina, Director General for Planning and Management of Spectrum at the Ministry of Economic Development, Italy
Ms Cristiana Flutur, Co-President, Conference of European Postal and Telecommunication Administrations (CEPT)
Distinguished delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen;
It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the ITU Regional Development Forum for Europe.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Ministry of Economic Development of Italy for hosting this Forum and for the kind hospitality extended to all of us.
My special thanks to Dr Eva Spina for her continued support to our work.
Europe continues to lead the way in ICT development. This reflects the region's high levels of economic development, competitive communication market, and high levels of ICT skills.
Today more than half of the world's population is using the Internet. It is a major breakthrough! But there's no time to celebrate! Not when far too many people around the world are still waiting to reap the benefits of the digital economy.
What has driven me in my career and what drives me as Director of ITU's Development Bureau is the impact of connectivity - the promise of technology for education, healthcare, agriculture, and more.
We are experiencing a digital transformation unlike any other. If not managed properly, the wave of technological change might in fact deepen the divide between the digital “haves" and “have-nots." Collaboration is key to achieve universal connectivity.
Connecting the remaining 50% will be all about collaboration. Not just private-private collaboration, but public-private collaboration cutting across industries and sectors.
The opportunities for partnerships are many. I firmly believe that collaboration and cooperation lie at the heart of our efforts to connect the remaining 50% of the world's population.
This is my second Regional Development Forum as Director of the ITU's Development Bureau.
The Forum will take stock of the achievements in the region since the last RDF in Europe, and offers an opportunity to discuss the status of current regional initiatives, strengthen partnerships and define the way forward; taking into account emerging needs of the region and priorities.
The five Regional Initiatives for Europe, adopted at the World Telecommunications Development Conference in Argentina in 2017, encompass; infrastructure, digital services, ICT accessibility, Cybersecurity, ICT innovation.
For each of these five focus areas, projects are being developed and implemented to meet the region's specific needs. We will discuss the best way forward to implementing these initiatives, and to map how they will contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Today, ICTs are key to accelerate the achievement of the SDGs. Therefore, today - more than ever – reinforced dedication to digital innovation is required.
As many of you know, the ITU Office for Europe has already started several activities in support of the Regional Initiatives. Many of you have been already engaged in these activities generating tangible results. All of them will be reported to you during the day.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank you for your continued cooperation with our regional telecommunication organization, CEPT, and with the European Commission. Our joint work has helped to implement innovative projects for Europe, like the establishment of the European mHealth Hub, or the PRIDA project for Africa. Keep in mind that while it is important to help each other and share best practices there are a number of regions that want to learn from you as well.
I would like to thank the European Commission representatives as well as all Member States who have supported these projects.
My gratitude also goes to the UN partners who are actively collaborating with ITU in the Europe region namely the UN Development Group, UNECE, FAO, ILO, WHO, UNDESA, UNDP, UN Vienna and many more.
The ICT sector is evolving fast.
We need to work together and join our efforts to meet current and future development challenges.
Before I conclude, let me thank one more time Com-ITU of CEPT for the great collaboration, constant guidance and significant contribution to the work of ITU-D.
I wish you all the very best in your deliberations and I look forward to working together in the coming years to achieve our shared objectives.