Committed to connecting the world

ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

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

Broadband Leadership Summit 2011
Opening Ceremony

24 October 2011, Geneva, Switzerland

Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is both a great honour and a great pleasure to be with you here in Geneva today, for the opening of the Broadband Leadership Summit – surrounded as I am by heads of state, heads of UN agencies, government ministers, captains of industry and global thought leaders.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am absolutely convinced that broadband will be the defining technology of the early 21st century.

It will revolutionize the lives of everyone, everywhere.

It will help deliver radical improvements in healthcare, education, transportation, utility supplies and government services.

Most importantly, it will help us accelerate progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals, now only just over three years away.

If we are not careful, however, we risk creating a world of broadband rich and broadband poor.

We must therefore step up our efforts to make access to broadband networks and services equitable and affordable for all the world’s people, wherever they live and whatever their means.

The Broadband Commission for Digital Development, set up by ITU and UNESCO last year, aims to do just that.

This morning, we had a meeting of the Broadband Commission here in Geneva, and one of the most important outcomes of that meeting was the agreement to create measurable broadband targets.

The targets agreed cover in particular affordability and uptake.

The affordability target sets a maximum percentage of monthly income as a target for broadband access;

And the uptake targets set minimum desired thresholds for households with Internet access, and Internet penetration as a whole.

We will measure progress annually and publish country rankings to quantify and evaluate broadband progress around the globe.

The targets – which are both ambitious and realistic – will hopefully be released to the media tomorrow, and I would like to thank all of the Commissioners and others who contributed to the debate.

Since the creation of the Broadband Commission, we have seen broadband successfully pushed to the top of the political agenda around the world – and I am delighted to report that broadband is becoming more widespread and more affordable everywhere.

Today and tomorrow, during this Broadband Leadership Summit, we will hear many different voices and many valuable viewpoints.

But I would like us to focus on the main goal – which is to put broadband at the service of sustainable social and economic development.

I would like to see a world where we replicate the mobile miracle of the past decade for broadband.

A world where individuals rich and poor can be connected to the global knowledge society.

A world where what matters is human ingenuity, not simply where you were born, or how wealthy your parents were.

It is not an exaggeration, to say that what we do here – right here, right now – has the power to improve the lives of each and every person on the planet.

So let’s do that – and let’s get to work!

Thank you.