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ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

Ambassador’s Information Meeting

Geneva, Switzerland, 3 September 2012


Ambassador’s Information Meeting

Date and venue

Following the kind invitation by the Government of the United Arab Emirates, the Council at its 2011 Session, in agreement with the majority of the Member States, resolved that the forthcoming World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA-12) will be convened in Dubai, for eight working days from 20 to 29 November 2012.

I am very confident that we will have excellent facilities in Dubai thanks to UAE’s commitment: a fantastic conference centre, excellent weather, a wide choice of superb hotels in the close vicinity at a very reasonable rate, a clean and safe environment, everything we need to ensure an excellent result.

The Chairman for the Conference will be Mohammed GHEYATH from UAE’s regulatory authority (TRA)

ITU-T Connects the world

It is not an exaggeration to say that the world of ICT would not function without standards

ITU-T standards form the bedrock on which all electronic communications take place.

The fibre optic networks that carry the vast majority of global communications interoperate because of standards agreed between ITU Member States and Sector Members.

The growth of the Internet has been in no small part a result of globally agreed ITU-T standards for Internet access – firstly with modems and now via broadband.

Video over the Internet is facilitated by ITU-T standards.

In fact the days of ITU’s focus on standards for telecommunications are gone. Another of our most high profile successes in recent years was a universal charger for mobile phones.

WTSA is an important venue to ensure that this global development remains on track, taking into account the needs of all of ITU’s Member States and some 460 private sector companies… 46 new members this year.

Traditional areas of strength

Since the last WTSA we have seen great advances spanning all layers of communications

Our traditional areas of strength include: Network infrastructure:

optical transport; Access technologies; Quality of Service (QoS) and network management; Numbering; Economic and policy issues; Emergency telecoms and Multimedia codecs (voice, video)

And we have seen new standards in all of these areas.

The number of meetings organized as well as the number of participants has grown significantly. We have also implemented new services for the membership and introduced a mentoring programme and briefing sessions for new delegates.

I am pleased to report that despite the economic turn down our participation and membership is growing – over 40 countries have participated in our work that had not in 2007, and last year alone we welcomed 16 countries participating for the first time. Many of these countries are developing countries which is important to ensure their specific requirements are included in our standards portfolio. This year we have welcomed 47 new companies, and Academia – a new membership category initiated by WTSA-08 – now has 34 ITU-T memberships.

We continue to place great emphasis on collaboration with other relevant bodies, among them ISO and IEC, as well as with the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the national and regional standards organizations, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Stronger presence in certain areas

Some of the areas that we have started work on in the last four years are potential areas for growth.

They include e-health, accessibility, ICTs and climate change, machine to machine communications, intelligent transport systems, cybersecurity including identity management, IPTV, cloud computing, smart grid and conformity and interoperability.

Changes in ITU-T’s work programme at WTSA may result in increased focus in all of these areas.

What is WTSA?

Held every four years, it is the main world conference for the Standardization Sector.

Essentially WTSA defines the next period of study for ITU-T including crucial decisions on innovative areas of technology to focus on from a standardization perspective.

It will consider reports from the previous study period from all of the Study Groups, the Telecommunication Standardization Advisory Group (TSAG) and from the TSB Director

It will review working methods, including approval processes and assign Questions (or specific areas of work) within the ITU-T work programme.

It also decides on the structure of the Study Groups including the appointment of new management teams.

In addition it will approve Recommendations that have not found consensus in the Study Groups and as much as possible ensure that the needs of developing countries are taken into account

Main objectives

Today’s ICT environment is challenging, and it is vital given the vast breadth of ITU’s membership to regularly examine this landscape and understand how best the Sector can meet the challenges of the coming years, taking into account the needs of all our membership – whether Member State, Sector Member, associate, academic member, developed or developing country.

WTSAs enable ITU, as the only truly global ICT standards body, to review the global situation and adapt our priorities and work accordingly.

We will emerge from WTSA with a clear focus on new areas of technology requiring international standardization and with fine tuned processes to make the best use of our delegate’s time and resources.

Globalisation requires global standards, and a global standards body like ITU clearly has an increasing role to play.

International standards are essential for international communications and global trade.

For companies from emerging markets, they create a level playing field, which provides access to world markets.

Who can participate?

Circular Letter No. 65 from the Secretary General sent on the 16 December 2011 was the invitation to Member States.

By this invitation each Member State is invited to send a delegation to WTSA-12 and to the Global Standards Symposium (GSS-12).

Sector Members of ITU-T as well as all concerned organizations, institutions and entities are also invited to attend.

Elected officials of ITU are present in an advisory capacity but the TSB Director can make proposals.

Regional preparatory meetings

A series of Regional Preparatory meetings have been held throughout the year in the 6 ITU regions with the final meetings of the regional organisations listed on this slide.

These preparatory meetings have been held back to back with the WCIT preparatory meetings so as to reduce the burden on the membership and secretariat and have proved very cost effective. They have been organised together with the regional organisation and will be a good model for future preparations for ITU conferences.

As usual in ITU conferences, it is the common proposals from the regions that will form the basis for the negotiations at the conference.

Practical Matters

Participants are requested to submit any contributions preferably two months in advance of the opening of the Assembly, i.e., by 20 September 2012.

However contributions can be accepted up until 6 November.

Of course in the interests of allowing participants to give careful attention to all proposals we would encourage Members to submit contributions as early as possible.

The conference will be largely paperless.

Either one full or two partial fellowships per eligible Member State will be awarded based on available funding. An application must be authorized by the relevant Administration of the ITU Member State.

WTSA side events and exhibition

In April ITU and WHO held a joint workshop on e-Health standards and interoperability. It was clear from the outcome that we need to do more in this field. There is a real problem of lack of interoperability in proprietary e-Health standards. The workshop marked the start of much closer collaboration with WHO on e-health standards.

e-Health will be the subject of one of the three side events that will be held during WTSA.

A second side event will explore the link between ICT innovations and standards in emerging markets, and discuss standardization requirements.

And the third side event will review network resilience and recovery of infrastructure following disasters and standardization requirements for all of these issues.

We are also organizing a small showcasing exhibition of some of the exciting new products that are being produced to ITU-T standards.

Universities will also be invited to a special event to highlight how academia can play a stronger role in the standards process and encourage more academia members.


Resolution 35 of WTSA encourages Member States and ITU-T Sector Members to advise the Director of suitable candidates for chairmanships and vice chairmanships for ITU-T Study Groups at least three months before the opening of WTSA.

The deadline for candidatures was 20 August and you can find all of the proposals on the WTSA web page.

This WTSA will be just the second in which the time limits agreed at the 2000 WTSA in Montreal will apply.

There are three chairs that cannot be re-elected.

Global standards symposium

The standardization scenario gets more complex by the day, and industry has called on ITU, to ensure we all pull together and avoid duplication of effort and waste our increasingly limited resources.

The Global Standards Symposium (GSS) is a one-day event where ministers, regulators, heads of other international, regional and major national standards bodies, and industry from the different regions of the world will discuss global ICT standards challenges with a focus on the intersection between the ICT sector and other vertical sectors such as health care, utilities, and transport and the collaboration with other standards bodies.

The Chairman of the GSS will present the conclusions of the GSS to the first Plenary meeting of the WTSA and I am sure that as in Johannesburg the WTSA will act on these conclusions.

Decisions taken in Johannesburg gave the ITU-T Sector a significantly increased role in many new areas, and this has attracted many more participants. In fact over 40 countries have participated in ITU-T since 2007 that had never done so before. Last year alone we welcomed 16 countries new to ITU-T.

With many new activities underway and continuing proposals for new work, the dedication of the staff, and the increasing number of contributions from the membership, I believe ITU-T is in a very strong position to continue to meet its objectives in the next study period.

Thank you for your attention.