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ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

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

ITU Council 2011
State of the Union Address

11 October 2011, Geneva, Switzerland

Distinguished Councillors
Ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to formally welcome you to the 2011 session of ITU Council, in this newly refurbished Popov Room, for which we can thank the Russian Federation and in particular the Russian Minister for Communications, Mr Igor Olegovitch Shchegolev.

For the first time in the history of ITU, the Council is composed of 48 newly elected Members.

This Council is also special because for the first time we have 193 Member States, and it is with tremendous pleasure that I welcome South Sudan as the youngest Member State of the United Nations and of this Union. Later this week, the Minister for South Sudan will be here to address you in person.

Let me therefore take this opportunity to congratulate South Sudan on its independence and to welcome them into the great family of nations that is the ITU. We are proud that South Sudan’s international telephone code – 211 – was allocated within hours of South Sudan’s independence and recognition by the United Nations.

Let me offer a special word of welcome to Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Paraguay and Rwanda, who have been elected to Council for the first time, and to Greece, Kuwait and Poland, who re-join us after an absence of some years.

Before I embark on this year’s State of the Union Address, I would like once more to offer my condolences to the entire telecommunications family following the death of our dear colleague, friend and brother, Mr Nabil Kisrawi, who passed away at the end of January.

For many, many years, Mr Kisrawi played such a prominent role in the work of ITU, the ITU Council and the ITU Plenipotentiary Conferences, and his memory lives on in each and every one of us. With his passing, we have lost a part of our institutional memory.

Let me therefore ask Councillors to rise for a minute’s silence in memory of Mr Kisrawi.

[Silence for Mr Kisrawi]

Thank you.

Distinguished Councillors,

It has been another very important year for ITU, and indeed for the global economy.

And this is my key message today: there is no longer any part of modern life on planet earth that is not directly impacted by ICTs and by the work we do here at ITU.

This was not always the case, of course – for a long time, the work of ITU could rightly be considered something of a technical backwater.

But in the second decade of the 21st century, in a world with well over five billion mobile cellular subscriptions and more than two billion people online, ITU’s work permeates into every business, every government office, every hospital and school, and every household.

ITU’s work is increasingly vital to each and any political grouping – whether it be G8, G20, OECD or G77 – and affects every social and economic sector of activity in the world today.

This was brought home to me just a few weeks ago, when I was in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, where I was pleased to be part of the discussion of the High Level Segment on non-communicable diseases.

At this event, and throughout the General Assembly itself, time and again the message came through loud and clear – from Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO, to President Obama, to Lance Armstrong:

ICTs will continue to be of ever-increasing importance in addressing global issues as this century rolls forward.

Concerning non-communicable diseases, for example, it is clear that we can and must leverage the power of technology – from SMS to the Internet – to help prevent the tens of millions of unnecessary deaths which occur every year.

These are unnecessary deaths from cancer, heart disease, diabetes and many other chronic conditions which together are the leading cause of mortality in the world today.

Recognition of ITU’s work and importance on the global agenda came just two weeks ago when I was named the most influential person in the global telecoms industry by the high-profile UK publication Global Telecom Business Power 100.

This of course is a recognition not simply of me, as an individual, but of my role as Secretary-General of this great institution – and the award is a credit to the entire extended membership of the Union as well as its staff and its supporters worldwide.

Indeed, I am pleased to be able to report that increasingly, the Union enjoys good visibility at the very highest levels. We have been honoured by high-level visits to Geneva from Heads of State and Heads of Government, as well as Ambassadors and Ministers. And when travelling on mission, I have been gratified to find the Union’s work recognized everywhere I go.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This is the first full Council session since the Plenipotentiary Conference last year.

It is also the first Council session since I was re-elected, along with the Deputy Secretary-General, Houlin Zhao, and the Director of TSB, Malcolm Johnson.

And of course it is the first Council session for the newly-elected Directors of BR and BDT, François Rancy and Brahima Sanou.

It is therefore a good time to take stock of where we are and where we want to be. I would therefore like to take this opportunity to give you a resumé of the main events of the past year, followed by a preview of the year ahead.

Distinguished Councillors,

I would like to come back to what I said earlier about this room.

The Popov Room is the perfect place for this discussion, and indeed all discussions of the Union’s work – because this is now the most state-of-the-art conference facility in Geneva today.

This is thanks to the generous funding of the Russian Federation through their National Radio-Technical Bureau – represented today by their General Director, Viktor Prikhodko – to the tune of five million Swiss Francs.

The Popov Room reflects well on our work as the United Nations Specialized Agency for ICTs, and I am very grateful for the support we have received, which does the whole Union credit.

Behind you, Professor Popov looks down on us to check that all is well in our meeting. There is also a depiction of the famous receiver he demonstrated in St. Petersburg on 7 May 1895, now celebrated as ‘Radio Day’ in Russia.

Today, I am delighted to welcome the Russian Federation’s Ambassador, Valery V. Loshchinin, who has taken a keen interest in the technical facilities and the progress of the project.

The Popov Room was renovated by a local company, EDIFEA, in just 15 weeks, with Russian oversight from Svyazinvest, represented by their Deputy Director General Mikhail Kritskiy and Deputy Director of Regional Development Dmitry Shukov.

Thanks must also go within ITU to Mr Zhao, my Deputy; to Peter Ransome and Alain Victor Mutwe; and to Idrissa Samaké; who all contributed to the project. Let me also thank the architects, Olivier Gallay and Manuela Corti, who are present in the room today.
Resumé of past year…


Distinguished Councillors,

Exactly a year ago today, on the 11th of October, we were just entering the second week of ITU’s 18th Plenipotentiary Conference, PP-10, in Guadalajara, Mexico.

As the Union’s top policy-making body, PP-10 set the strategic direction for the 2012-2015 period, and I would like to take this opportunity once again to thank the Chairman of this year’s Council – who was also of course the Chairman of PP-10 – Fernando Borjón, for his outstanding work last year.

It is important that this session of Council be chaired by Fernando, not only for reasons of continuity, but also because he knows the PP-10 issues and their strategic implications perhaps better than any of us.

PP-10 addressed many major issues and challenges, which – along with the review and adoption of the ITU strategic and financial plans for the 2012-2015 period – included the adoption of formal texts on:
  • Accessibility;
  • ICTs and climate change;
  • Conformance and interoperability;
  • Internet and security in the use of ICTs;
  • Measures to help prevent the illicit use and abuse of telecommunication networks;
  • Emergency communications and humanitarian assistance;
  • Strengthening regional presence;
  • Bridging the standardization gap;
  • Special measures to assist Small Island Developing States and Landlocked Developing Countries;
  • Admission of academia in the work of ITU;
  • And many more.

GSR (2010 & 2011)

Ladies and gentlemen,

Since we last met, at the Plenipotentiary Conference, we have had not just one but two editions of the GSR, the Global Symposium for Regulators.

The GSR remains a unique venue for regulators and policy makers from both developed and developing countries to meet and exchange views and experiences.

The 2010 GSR was held from 10 to 12 November, just after PP-10, in Dakar, Senegal, under the theme ‘Enabling Tomorrow’s Digital World’.

GSR 2010 addressed key issues such as the impact of broadband on and beyond the ICT sector; dispute resolution in the ICT sector; 21st century regulation; ICTs and climate change; cybersecurity; and the migration from analogue to digital terrestrial broadcasting.

Much more recently, from 21 to 23 September this year, we held the 2011 edition of the GSR in Armenia City, Colombia, under the theme ‘Smart Regulation for a Broadband World’.

One of the key messages which came out of that event was that we must all work harder to ensure that broadband continues to become more affordable, in all parts of the world.

Regulators can make a real difference, because affordability is dramatically improved when competitive forces are brought to bear – and also of course when there are clear incentives to increase capacity.
International Women’s Day

Earlier this year, on 10 March, ITU commemorated the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day by hosting a High-Level Panel Debate to tackle the issue of declining female participation in the information and communication technology industry.

ITU’s High-level Panel of experts from government, the ICT industry, the education sector and the media agreed that major objectives include improving the perception of the industry among girls, and the need for stronger and more inspiring role models.

The event was attended by around 100 representatives from UN agencies, national missions, the ICT industry, the education sector and the general public – and many more followed the audiocast of discussions in English and French.

The Panel was moderated by ITU’s highest-ranking woman, Doreen Bogdan, who is of course here with us today, and we were honoured by the participation of the Ministers of Communications of Finland and Serbia, Suvi Lindén and Jasna Matić.

ITU Management Retreat

Two weeks after International Women’s Day I called top ITU management to a brief retreat, in Evian, to fine-tune our plans and goals for the year ahead.

Once again the management retreat – for the fourth time – proved a powerful and useful team-building exercise, offering us an unrivalled opportunity, just like ITU does on a much larger scale, to seek agreement and broker consensus.

Indeed, working together, we were able to engage in productive brainstorming which helped clarify our goals and aims not just for the year ahead, but for the four years ahead.

Broadband Commission & WHO Commission

Distinguished Councillors,

I have had the honour over the past year to continue serving as the co-Vice-Chair of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, which ITU launched in partnership with UNESCO in May 2010.

The Broadband Commission primary goal is to promote the use of broadband and ICTs in helping to accelerate progress towards meeting the MDGs.

We had a very successful meeting of the full Commission at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris in June, and the Commission also set up a number of thematic working groups to cover specific issues such as climate change, education, health, LDCs, science, multilingualism and public-private partnerships.

I myself chaired the working group on youth, and we held a very dynamic meeting here in Geneva in May, where a great crowd of young people workshopped together to create a dramatic broadband manifesto.

We were also able to get great further input into the working group on youth from a meeting in New York in the summer, and a meeting hosted by the Broadband Commission’s co-chair, President Paul Kagame, in Rwanda, just last month.

The next meeting of the Broadband Commission will be held here in Geneva immediately after Council ends, and will feature a Broadband Leadership Summit, held in conjunction with ITU Telecom World 2011, which I will say more about in a moment.

The setting up and working methods of the Broadband Commission were used as a model for a new ‘Commission on Information and Accountability for Women's and Children's Health’ which was set up jointly at the beginning of the year by WHO and ITU.

The Commission was set up to create a proposed a framework for global reporting, oversight and accountability on women's and children's health.

Through ten recommendations presented in its report ‘Keeping Promises, Measuring Results’, the Commission created a system to track whether donations for women's and children's health are made on time, resources are spent wisely and transparently, and whether the desired results are achieved.

The Information and Accountability Commission was co-chaired by Jakaya Kikwete, President of Tanzania, and Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada. I was honoured to serve as co-vice-chair of the Commission, along with Margaret Chan, the Director-General of WHO.

The Commission has now delivered its final report, which was presented to the UN General Assembly just last month.

Initiatives such as these demonstrate ITU’s continuing commitment to the ‘One UN’ concept, which has been strongly championed by Ban Ki-moon, and to which we are all accountable.


Ladies and gentlemen,

This year marked a very important step in the LDC process, with the holding of the fourth United Nations Conference for Least Developed Countries, LDC IV, in Istanbul, in May.

LDC IV assessed the results of the 10-year action plan adopted at LDC III in Brussels in 2001, and adopted new measures and strategies for the sustainable development of the LDCs in the next decade.

From an ICT perspective, there was much good news in the LDCs, largely driven by the ‘mobile cellular miracle’, which saw access to voice and simple data connectivity rise from an LDC average of 1.2% to almost 30% in just ten years.

This steep rise in phone connectivity far exceeds the targets set out in the LDC III Brussels Programme of Action, which called for average telephone density in LDCs to reach 5% by 2011.

There are still far too few Internet users in LDCs, however. There was significant progress over the decade, with 2.5% average Internet penetration in LDCs by the end of 2010, compared to under 0.3% in 2001, but that figure still remains well below the Brussels III target of 10%.

I am confident, however, that we will see a great increase in Internet connectivity over the next decade, driven by newly competitive market places, increased competition, lower prices and new business models – such as pre-paid broadband.

I was pleased to see that the programme of action which emerged from LDC IV commits leaders to undertake the necessary steps to promote access of LDCs to knowledge, information, technology and know-how and to support the LDCs in improving their scientific and innovative capacity needed for their structural transformation.

In this regard, ICTs were explicitly mentioned alongside other basic needs such as water, transport and electricity, demonstrating the increasing importance of ICTs – and ITU’s work – in every area of social, economic and environmental development.

Straight after the LDC IV Conference in Istanbul, we held the 2011 WSIS Forum in Geneva, which was co-hosted by UNCTAD, UNDP and UNESCO.

World leaders came together for a week to work on strategies to more effectively harness the power and reach of ICTs to accelerate progress towards the MDGs in crucial areas like health and education.

The event was particularly well-attended this year, with more than a thousand stakeholders attending the 2011 WSIS Forum from over 140 countries, along with more than 70 Members of Parliament and many other senior government figures.

The Forum also served as the venue for the UN Group on the Information Society’s first meeting of the open consultation process on the overall review of the implementation of the WSIS outcomes.

As usual, the WSIS Forum was timed to coincide with the celebrations for World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, WTISD.

This year, the WTISD theme was ‘Better Life in Rural Communities with ICTs’, with the aim of drawing attention to the 3.5 billion people who reside in rural districts and far-flung communities, and who are often among the least connected to ICTs.

The 2011 WTISD awards went to three laureates who have devoted their attention towards promoting ICTs as a means of providing a better life through global sustainability, particularly in rural communities.

The three laureates were:
  • President Tarja Halonen of Finland;
  • Sam Pitroda, Adviser to the Prime Minister of India on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovations and chair of India’s National Innovation Council and the Smart Grid Task Force;
  • and Kristin Peterson, co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Inveneo, a non-profit social enterprise focusing on ICTs in rural areas throughout the developing world.


Distinguished Councillors,

The past twelve months have also been very successful for all three ITU sectors, and we have been as busy if not busier than ever in implementing the wishes of membership through the work of ITU-R, ITU-T and ITU-D.

ITU-R has been extremely active this year in providing assistance to administrations through participation in seminars and workshops in the regions, and the Director has made it a priority to ensure that all regions are well-informed on the importance of effective and efficient use of the digital dividend.

Another crucial area where ITU-R has been heavily involved this year is related to the provision of advisory services and assistance to administrations for adequate preparedness in their approach to the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting and transmission.

The 2nd session of the Conference Preparatory Meeting, organized in February, focused on WRC-12, with particular emphasis in areas such as mobile communications, broadband wireless access, digital broadcasting, and emergency communications.

The IMT-Advanced programme entered its final phase, with the conclusion of the evaluation process of the radio interface technologies. The final approval of the relevant ITU-R Recommendation is expected to take place during the forthcoming RA-12, ahead of WRC-12.

Finally, in response to Resolution 647 (WRC-07), the Radiocommunication Bureau established a database containing terrestrial- and space-related frequencies / frequency bands, based on data made available by administrations for use in emergency situations.

This database may be consulted at, and I would like to take this opportunity to appeal to administrations who have not submitted relevant data to please endeavour to provide ITU-R with this as soon as possible – it makes a real difference in emergency situations.


ITU-T has also been very busy this year, continuing in its role as world leader in the standardization of optical transport networks, optical fibre and cables – noting that 95% of international communications is now routed via submarine fibre-optic cables. ITU-T held its second two-week in-depth tutorial on optical fibre in Mexico City in September.

Focus Groups on Smart Grid and Cloud Computing will finish by the end of this year; work will then most likely be taken forward in the Study Groups.

ITU-T has also approved the first in a series of methodology standards on assessing the environmental impact of ICTs, with the remaining Recommendations scheduled for completion during the rest of this year and next year.

ITU's universal charger standard was further improved to maximize the benefits for end users by extending its use to a wider variety of devices – making it even more energy efficient, and standardizing the end connectors.

Other work within ITU-T this year has included:
  • The creation of an ‘Internet of Things Global Standards Initiative’;
  • The creation of a focus group on ‘driver distraction’;
  • The establishment of a new focus group on audio-visual media accessibility, focusing on persons with disabilities;
  • The approval of a suite of global technical standards (CYBEX) that provides a common framework for exchanging information on cybersecurity;
  • And the agreement of an MoU with ARIB, CCSA, TTA and TCC to collaborate on standardization and to support ITU's pre-eminent role.
Finally, concerning ITU-T, the TechWatch reports, which are published on a regular basis, continue to be influential right across the ICT sector.


ITU-D, for its part, has continued to work hard in fulfilling ITU’s development mandate, and extensive and important work has been carried out by the regional offices over the past year, as well as here at ITU headquarters of course.

ITU-D provided assistance to Member States in disaster preparedness, designing and implementing early warning systems and national emergency telecommunications plans.

ITU-D assisted through the deployment of broadband satellite equipment when countries were affected by natural disasters, and thereby helped in the coordination of humanitarian operations and the setting up of telemedicine facilities.

ITU-D also held regional capacity building activities and provided direct assistance to countries in strengthening their institutions and expertise in all ICT related areas.

The production and publication of statistics and indicators this year included the comprehensive ‘Measuring the Information Society 2011’  report which was launched last month in Geneva, New York, and all the Regional Offices.

A number of partnership agreements were concluded between ITU and development partners including ITU Member States. New projects were launched in all regions, and the 28 Regional Initiatives adopted by WTDC-10 have been under implementation since January 2011.

ITU-D has also been very active in the areas of infrastructure, enabling environment and e-applications, assisting Member States and Sector Members in maximizing the utilization of appropriate new technologies in the development of their ICT infrastructure.

More than 130 Member States are benefitting from ITU-D technical assistance and capacity building, and ITU is playing a leading role within the UN system and with UN bodies to provide a global, harmonized and coordinated response to cyberthreats and cybercrimes.

Broadband has also played an important role in ITU-D’s work this year, with the launching of a new series of case studies and thematic reports, which will be available soon at the new ITU ‘Universe of Broadband’ portal, which is designed to showcase ITU’s broadband activities across all Sectors.

ITU-D has also continued to work hard in capacity building and knowledge enhancement, and in helping to ensure the digital inclusion of indigenous peoples; people living in rural areas; persons with disabilities; women and girls; and youth and children.

And I am pleased to note that over 100,000 women have now received digital literacy training through the joint Digital Literacy campaign.

Finally, let me congratulate the ITU-D Study Groups which met last month for holding the first ITU meetings which extended ITU interpretation services across the six working languages to remote delegates.

Preview of the year ahead…

Distinguished Councillors,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me now give you a brief preview of the exciting year which lies ahead of us, which promises to be another very busy and exciting twelve months for us all.

Major ITU events coming up include:
  • the 40th anniversary edition of ITU Telecom World, in less than two weeks time;
  • the Radiocommunication Assembly and World Radiocommunication Conference at the beginning of next year;
  • the ITU Connect Arab States and ITU Connect Americas events in March and July 2012;
  • and the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly, WTSA, and the World Conference on International Telecommunications, WCIT, right at the end of next year.

ITU Telecom World 2011 & Broadband Leadership Summit

Starting with the immediate future, let me say how much I am looking forward to participating in the ITU Telecom World 2011 event, which is taking place here in Geneva from 24 to 27 October, and which will, I am certain, prove to be unique in this year’s calendar.

ITU Telecom World 2011 will continue to benefit from a 40-year history of international reach, but it has also been strategically repositioned, in line with the changing needs of the industry as a whole – and indeed in line with the wishes of membership, which have been clearly expressed at recent Council sessions and at PP-10.

ITU Telecom World 2011 will bring together a unique mix of participants, including: Heads of State and Government and International Organizations; ministers, policy makers and regulators; C-level executives; mayors; thought leaders; digital innovators; and academia.

This will make the event 'big' in many ways: we'll be covering big issues; engaging in big conversations, taking big decisions, hearing from big thinkers; exerting a big influence; and having a big impact.

It will be a crucial platform for shaping the future of the ICT sector – and in today’s world that means shaping the future of every sector of the global economy.

I also hope you’ll join us in the ‘Girls in ICT’ session, where we will unveil a ‘Girls in ICT’ Portal, and encourage everyone to celebrate ‘Girls in ICT’ on 26 April next year.

ITU Telecom World 2011 will also feature a Broadband Leadership Summit.

This will be held under the auspices of the Broadband Commission which I mentioned earlier, and will unite Heads of State, Heads of Government & leading policy makers from around the world with top-level industry players to debate the hot issues shaping the global broadband agenda.

RA-12 & WRC-12
Ladies and gentlemen,

Next year, from 16 to 20 January, ITU-R will be hosting the 2012 Radiocommunication Assembly, RA-12, which will be followed from 23 January to 17 February by the 2012 World Radiocommunication Conference, WRC-12.

An enormous amount of preparation has gone into RA-12 and WRC-12, as I am sure you can imagine, and I am very pleased that we have François Rancy at the helm of the Radiocommunication Bureau, as he did such an excellent job of chairing the very successful WRC-07 Conference four years ago.

WRC-12 will attract several thousand delegates and I expect that we shall – as usual – see intense negotiations over the future of wireless communications.

Rapid technological developments and growth in the ICT sector, and notably in mobile communications, continue to fuel the demand for spectrum, and I am looking very much to seeing the outcomes of this very important conference.

Connect Arab States & Connect Americas

Next year will also be unique in featuring not just one but two ITU Connect events – one for the Arab States and one for the Americas.

These two summits will build on the successes already achieved at the first two ITU Connect summits: ITU Connect Africa in 2007 and ITU Connect CIS in 2009.

ITU Connect Arab States will be held from 3 to 5 March next year, in Doha, Qatar, while ITU Connect Americas will be held from 17 to 19 July in Panama City, Panama.

Both events will aim to:
  • mobilize human, financial, and technical resources;
  • identify priority projects and project holders;
  • identify and engage potential partners and establish Public-Private Partnerships;
  • and garner political support at the national and regional level.


In between the two ITU Connect Summits for 2012, we will be holding the WSIS Forum here in Geneva from 14 to 18 May – centred, as usual, around World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, which falls on 17 May, marking 147 years of ITU’s influence in the world of ICTs.

I would already encourage you to book this week into your agendas for next year, and would actively encourage all governments to continue to build this event with us through the preparatory process.


Two other very important events are coming up at the end of 2012. I am referring of course to WTSA and WCIT.

The dates and venue for these events will be approved by this session of Council, with the events expected to be held back to back in Dubai, in November and December next year.

The WTSA defines the next period of study for ITU-T, and preparations for WTSA-12 will take place throughout next year, notably in the form of regional preparatory meetings.

The WTSA will also review working methods including approval processes; the work programme; and the structure of Study Groups. It will be preceded by a one-day Global Standards Symposium.

The WCIT will be held immediately after the WTSA, and will be the first event of its kind since the conference in Melbourne in 1988 which produced the current International Telecommunication Regulations, the ITRs.

The WCIT is being held at the request of membership, to look at ways to revise the current ITRs.

The ITRs have served us well – particularly by facilitating the liberalization of telecommunications services – but there is general agreement that they now need to be updated to reflect the significant changes that have taken place in the ICT sector over the past two decades.

I think we can all agree that light regulation is necessary if we are to avoid the sort of potential crisis in the ICT sector which we saw – and continue to see – in the financial sector.

The WCIT therefore needs to find win-win solutions which will act as a beneficial catalyst for the future development of the whole sector – and I look forward to seeing you there, and to achieving those win-win solutions!

Other business…

Distinguished Councillors,

Before I close, I would like to briefly discuss two or three other important points concerning the Union’s work.

ICT Discovery

The first of these is the ICT Discovery, which will be inaugurated two weeks today, on Tuesday 25 October – and Councillors will be able to have a preview on 19 and 20 October.

The ICT Discovery has been made possible through the patronage of the founding partner, the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of the  United Arab Emirates, and we are most grateful for its support.

The ICT Discovery has been designed to celebrate key ICT achievements, as well as the developments ICTs hold for the future. In addition to featuring interactive exhibits showcasing cutting-edge ICT systems and their role in transforming the way we live, the ICT Discovery will also host rotating exhibitions on key topics, including new inventions, emergency communications, ICTs and climate change, and the future of the Internet.

Diverse organizations from our membership – Member States, Sector Members, research institutes and academia – have come together to help us with content development, and I would like to offer personal thanks for their contributions. We look forward to working together with more members in the future.

After the inauguration on 25 October, work on finalizing the ICT Discovery will continue over the coming months, ahead of its being opened officially to visitors next year.
Staff relations

Let me now pass on to one of the most important items on my agenda today, which is staff relations.

I would like to give full credit to the Staff Council for its outstanding achievements over the past year in working to improve relations between staff and management.

Both sides have shown a willingness to cooperate – and perhaps even more importantly to compromise – and so while we don’t always agree on everything right away, I think it’s fair to say that we always find workable, win-win solutions in the end; in the true ITU tradition.

Personally, I remain absolutely willing to work hard to resolve any issues affecting staff, and my door remains open for these important discussions, and I am actively reaching out to staff.

And that is because I come to work every single day, proud to be leading such a strong organization and such dedicated staff – in all three sectors and in the general secretariat.

The staff are the lifeblood of the Union, and without them – and their commitment and enthusiasm – we would simply not exist.

Council Working Groups

Ladies and gentlemen,

Before I move on, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to each of the chairmen and vice-chairmen of the Council Working Groups for their hard work, and to assure them of our ongoing support.

The Council Working Groups continue to work diligently on key policy, strategy and planning issues.

As the lead facilitator in implementing WSIS outcomes, the CWG-WSIS reports on the challenge ahead for ITU, not only in programming all activities by PP-14, but also in identifying future activities after 2015, and ITU’s role after WSIS+10.

The CWG on Child Online Protection (COP) will present a report to this session of Council, and will detail progress on information exchange of legal, technical and procedural issues; capacity building; and international cooperation.

The FINREGs CWG has been busy studying financial matters arising from Resolutions and Decisions of PP-10, and Council will be asked to review and approve the biennial budget for 2012 and 2013 – a real challenge in light of increasing demands and reduced resources.

Council will also be called to endorse the work of the selection panel for the Independent Management Advisory Committee (IMAC). Working in close collaboration with the Tripartite Group on Human Resources Management, Council is also invited to review a proposal to establish a new combined Council Working Group on Financial and Human Resources.

The fifth meeting of CWG-WCIT12 was held just prior to Council. It is hoped that a first draft of the future ITRs will be drawn up for the next meeting in February 2012 and that the Group will complete its work on schedule by June 2012.

The new CWG on a Stable Constitution (CWG-STB-CS) met for the first time in June. Council will review initial progress following a second meeting held just prior to this session of Council.

The Ad hoc Group set up to draft a model host country agreement for ITU Telecom Events will present its work to Council for review and approval, and I am optimistic that the model HCA will then be able to be used to plan future ITU Telecom events.

In light of PP-10 outcomes and the increasing number of key issues to be undertaken within the framework of the strategic plan for 2012-2015, the challenge for Council is going to be even greater, to effectively respond to growing demands placed on the activities of the Union and, at the same time, rationalize the work of Council Working Groups.

By Decision 11 (Guadalajara, 2010), PP-10 decided that Council should review the creation and management of CWGs, including the adoption of criteria for circumstances under which termination of CWGs is appropriate – and I look forward to working together to address this challenge with you.
Strategic & operational plans; budget

Distinguished Councillors,

The last point on my agenda today is the strategic and operational plans, and of course the budget.

I am pleased to be able to report that we have harmonized the strategic and operational plans, and that we have consolidated the activity report with the strategic plan to simplify matters, and also to reduce unnecessary paperwork.

Concerning the budget, let me cover just a few of the key issues relating to the draft budget for the Union for 2012-2013.

For the first time, we are presenting the draft budget in Results-Based Budget (RBB) format. This format, which was endorsed by PP-10, allows Council to clearly allocate ITU resources to the Goals and Objectives of the Strategic Plan.

Budget preparation was an arduous exercise.

This is because on the one hand it is based on zero nominal growth in the amount of the 318,000 Franc contributory unit, but on the other hand four major events – RA-12, WRC-12, WTSA-12 and WCIT – have to be accommodated next year.

Thanks to strict efficiency measures and efforts for cost reductions across the Union, the draft budget is 13.5 million Francs – or 4.1% – lower than the 2010-2011 approved budget.

Total revenue and expenses of the General Secretariat and the three Sectors are balanced with a limited recourse to the Reserve Account, which is 50% lower than in the last budget.

The draft budget for 2012-2013 includes a proposal to withdraw 5.1 million Francs from the Reserve Account, compared to 10.1 million in 2010-2011.

Some of the activities of the Union could not be covered in the draft budget however.

These are listed as Unfunded Mandatory Activities, UMACs, which need to be financed by savings, additional income or increased financial commitments to the Union from membership, through assessed contributions and voluntary contributions.

In this respect, there are strong indications that some Members may be willing to increase the number of their contributory units.

Together, I am confident that we can find a way forward and create a balanced budget.

Closing section

Distinguished Councillors,

Let me close by reiterating some of the key messages from my introduction.

Firstly, that ICTs – and hence ITU – are implicitly involved and relevant in every sector of the global economy today; in addressing every issue affecting the world; and in every corner of the globe.

What we do here at ITU has the power to improve the lives of each and every person on the planet.

The ICT sector has grown enormously in the space of just a few decades.

In 1973, telecoms was a 58 billion dollar business, globally.

By 1998, it had grown ten-fold, to become a 600 billion dollar business.

And by 2010 revenues had surpassed four trillion dollars a year.

At the same time, we have seen the most extraordinary growth in subscriptions, Internet users, and of course data traffic – which is doubling year on year, and reached one zettabyte for the first time in 2010.

A zettabyte of data!

That’s a trillion gigabytes!

And that may be the hottest issue we have to address in terms of ICT development in the coming years: how to create the new digital highways needed to accommodate the massive increase in traffic.

We are so lucky to be working in this vibrant sector, where our work affects all of humanity in the 21st century.

We are approaching the 150th anniversary of ITU – which of course falls in the same year as the target date for the Millennium Development Goals, 2015.

So now we must raise our heads high; we must shoulder our responsibilities; we must plan carefully; and we must work hard.

To ensure the Union continues to do the right things at the right times in the right places.


And for all the world’s people.

Thank you.