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ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

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

Third Meeting of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development
Opening Remarks

6 June 2011, Paris, France

Distinguished Commissioners,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning, and let me echo the welcoming remarks we have already had from Irina Bokova, and let me thank you so much for joining us today at UNESCO’s Headquarters for the third meeting of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development.

I know that many of you have travelled far to be here, and we very much appreciate your efforts.

I am also very grateful for the presence of the other ITU elected officials who are here today – François Rancy, Director of our Radiocommunication Bureau, and Brahima Sanou, Director of our Telecommunication Development Bureau. We greatly appreciate your active support of the Broadband Commission.

The Broadband Commission for Digital Development was created last year because we firmly believed – and continue to believe – that broadband represents a unique, once-in-a-generation opportunity to drive social and economic development, and to help us accelerate progress towards meeting the MDGs.

What is interesting to me is that in the past year – since we created the Broadband Commission – broadband really has risen to the top of national agendas.

Indeed, I was hearing earlier, for example, that Australia’s National Broadband Network represents the country’s single greatest infrastructure investment ever – bigger even than roads or railways.

And I was pleased to note that the recent G8 meeting in Deauville just ten days ago drew from the Broadband Commission’s report which was delivered to the UN Secretary General last September in New York, and actively recognized the importance of broadband.

Let me quote briefly from article 14 of the latest G8 Declaration:

“Broadband Internet access is an essential infrastructure for participation in today's economy.

“In order to benefit fully from the digital economy, we need to seize emerging opportunities, such as cloud computing, social networking and citizen publications, which are driving innovation and enabling growth in our societies.”

Ladies and gentlemen,

Now it is time to move from theory into practice.

At the two working group meetings yesterday – on multi-lingualism and education – and again at dinner, yesterday evening, the message came across loud and clear, time and again: we must focus on concrete projects; real on-the-ground initiatives; and innovative, grass-roots solutions.

We have two very powerful reports. Now we must start making a difference where it really counts: in the homes and the lives of the billions of underserved people everywhere.

So let’s get to work, and play our part in creating a bold broadband future!

Thank you.