Committed to connecting the world

ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

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

Parliamentary Forum
 Opening Ceremony

18 May 2011, Geneva, Switzerland


Distinguished colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to be here with you this afternoon for the opening ceremony of the Parliamentary Forum which is taking place in conjunction with the WSIS Forum 2011. I am delighted to see such strong – and such high-level – attendance.

This is the Fourth Parliamentary Forum on Shaping the Information Society. And this year we will be addressing ‘The Triple Challenge of Cybersecurity: Information; Citizens; and Infrastructure’.
The Forum is being organized by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and of course the ITU.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I think we all recognize the importance of information and communication technologies in the 21st century. ICTs are part of everything we do in the modern world, and will continue to play an ever-increasing role in social and economic development as we move forward.

It is therefore vital, and I have mentioned this several times this week,  that legislators work together to continue shaping a positive, enabling, environment for ICTs – so that the benefits of increased access to technology spread as far and wide as possible, and reach those who need them most.

ICTs are a critical tool for all the other sectors of the global economy in the modern world. Policy makers and legislators must therefore work hard to ensure that they understand and answer the challenges of the ICT industry, and that they deliver effective regulation – an essential enabler in itself.

As the UN specialized agency for ICTs, ITU plays a leading role in terms of infrastructure, the creation of an enabling environment, and building capacity worldwide.

Our mission is to connect the world – and with over five billion mobile cellular subscriptions, and more than two billion people online, we are doing a good job in that regard (even if very much more still needs to be done, especially in terms of broadband access).

But with increased connectivity, of course, comes the growing issue of global public confidence and security in the use of ICTs – or, in short, cybersecurity.

ITU’s concrete response was to launch the Global Cybersecurity Agenda, known as the CGA in 2007, as a global framework for international cooperation.

More recently, we are proud to have forged a strong and highly supportive relationship with IMPACT – the International Multilateral Partnership Against Cyber-Threats.

As the world’s first comprehensive alliance against cyberthreats, IMPACT is the key organization fulfilling ITU’s cybersecurity mandate in an operational sense, providing our 192 Member States with access to expertise, facilities and resources to effectively address cyberthreats, as well as assisting UN bodies in protecting their ICT infrastructures.

Already more than 130 countries are now formally part of the ITU-IMPACT operational deployment, and I would encourage all remaining Member States and UN bodies to join this global endeavour, so that they too may benefit from the services and capabilities provided.

ITU-IMPACT members benefit from:

Free access to the IMPACT Global Response Centre (GRC), the foremost cyber threat resource centre in the world for global threat information.

Free access to the Electronically Secure Collaboration Application Platform for Experts (ESCAPE).

On-site assessments and elaboration of implementation strategies for the establishment of the Computer Incidents Response Teams (CIRTs).

Specialized cybersecurity capacity building programs to arm Member States and international agencies with relevant knowledge to face and prevent cyberthreats.

Distinguished colleagues,

I am also pleased to be able to tell you that ITU and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) are joining forces to collaborate globally on assisting Member States in mitigating the risks posed by cybercrime.

It is the first time that two organizations within the UN system have formally agreed to cooperate at the global level on cybersecurity, and the MoU we will sign tomorrow will enable the two bodies to work together on technical assistance to be provided to Member States on cybercrime and cybersecurity.

In line with our long tradition of public-private partnership, we have also signed an MoU with Symantec Corporation, a leading ICT security provider. Under the terms of the agreement, Symantec will provide ITU with expert intelligence reports on current and future trends in ICT security, to be shared amongst all ITU Member States.

This will facilitate awareness raising and knowledge transfer, complementing the work of ITU and strengthening our effectiveness as a global forum for governments and the private sector to build confidence and security in the use of ICTs.

Finally, we are also seeing tangible and positive results from another joint initiative being led by ITU, in the shape of the Child Online Protection initiative, which falls within the GCA.

With our new patron, President Chinchilla of Costa Rica, our COP initiative is now working to transform the COP guidelines released at the end of 2009 into concrete activities which will deliver significant national benefits – such as the development of national strategies on child online protection; the establishment of national hotlines; or the development of interoperable standards and related recommendations to protect children online.

Ladies and gentlemen,

If there is one constant in the ICT industry today, it is that there is constant change.

This means that we – as legislators, policy makers and international organizations – must be ready to adapt continuously to the changing environment and make regular amendments to legislation and regulations as necessary. We have to be ready to respond rapidly to changes as they occur, and keep up the momentum we have worked so hard to achieve.

Together, I am convinced that we can continue to ensure that the right environment is in place to ensure healthy growth across the ICT sector – and that we will continue to make the online world a safe and secure place for all the world’s people.

Thank you.