Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me start by wishing you all a very happy New Year, and by welcoming you to the Popov Room which has been newly refurbished thanks to a generous donation from the Russian Federation.
I would like to share with you today a message that I gave to ITU’s Council at its most recent session in October.
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.
One of the biggest challenges we have to address in terms of ICT development is how to create the digital highways which will be needed to accommodate the massive increases in network traffic expected in the coming years.
The work of ITU-T will be fundamental to this effort.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Every year is important in the development of ICTs… but this year we must work incredibly hard – and 2012 will be very busy and important for ITU.
We start the year with the Radiocommunication Assembly, RA-12, which will be followed 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. 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.
WRC-12 will attract several thousand delegates, and I expect that we shall – as usual – see intense negotiations over the future of wireless and satellite communications.
In addition to the World Radio Conference at the beginning of the year, we have two other very important events at the end of the year. I am referring of course to WTSA and WCIT.
I will leave Malcolm to talk about WTSA, and focus instead on WCIT.
WCIT will examine the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs).
The 1988 ITRs opened the door for the telecommunications revolution of the 1990s – and notably privatization, liberalization, and new technologies such as mobile and the Internet.
It is now time to take the next step, and open the door for the broadband revolution of the next decade. So that all the world’s people can gain access – affordable, equitable, high-speed fixed or mobile access – to voice, video and data.
We need updated ITRs – because without them we risk the collapse of the ICT networks which underpin all communications technologies.
The creation of the digital highways I mentioned earlier is clearly closely linked to the continued development of standards in the transport and access domains, where ITU has led for many years.
It is clear that the work of the standardization sector has been vital to the global rollout of broadband technologies. Without ITU standards for transport, access, quality of service, video and security, the development of these technologies would have been severely stunted.
Concerning some of the other key themes ITU-T is focussed on, I am proud to see advances in the fields of cybersecurity – particularly in identity management, telebiometrics, cloud computing and child online protection; and in ICTs and climate change – and particularly the new methodologies approved late last year.
ITU-T has also forged a strong initiative on accessibility, championing the cause with a new Focus Group and a number of workshops on this increasingly pertinent topic.
Let me also salute ITU-T’s efforts to bridge the digital divide – a topic very close to my own heart – by facilitating and encouraging more participation in the standards work of ITU.
Together, I believe that we can harness the power of ICTs to deliver social and economic benefits in every nation, and across every sector.
In the lead-up to WRC, WTSA and WCIT, let us ensure that we combine resources and help to make the world a better place – for everyone, wherever they live and whatever their circumstances.
TSAG has an important role in steering the work of the Standardization Sector towards this honourable goal.
Under the sound guidance of our excellent chairman Bruce Gracie – and chairmen past – TSAG has helped to keep ITU-T well on-course with regard to the key objectives established for the Union.
And with that let me leave you in the capable hands of Bruce and Malcolm. I am sure that together – with your help – they will ensure the meeting comes to a successful conclusion later in the week.