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

World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-12)

Opening Ceremony

23 January 2012, Geneva, Switzerland

Distinguished colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure and a privilege to address you this morning at the opening of the 2012 World Radiocommunication Conference.

Let me also take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy New Year – and especially of course those who are celebrating the Chinese New Year today, which marks the beginning of the Year of the Dragon.

We very much appreciate your attendance here at WRC-12 when you should be celebrating this important festive period close to your families.

The honour of opening ITU’s busy calendar of major events in 2012 falls to the Radiocommunication Sector, and this year’s WRC promises to be the most important and well-attended edition ever – with over 3,000 registered participants, and more than 2,000 individual proposals.

Before continuing, 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 last year.

For many, many years, Mr Kisrawi played such a prominent role in the work of ITU, the ITU Council, the ITU Plenipotentiary Conferences, and of course the World Radiocommunication Conferences. His memory lives on in each and every one of us, and with his passing, we have lost a part of our institutional memory.
We have also lost an illustrius former Secretary-General, Dr Pekka Tarjanne.

Let me therefore ask you to rise for a minute’s silence in memory of Mr Kisrawi and Dr Tarjanne.

Thank you.

I would also like to offer our condolences to Madame Marie-Thérèse Alajouanine, of France, for the passing away of her mother a few days ago.

Madame Alajouanine has played such an important role as the Chairman of the Editorial Committee, and she has kindly offered to assist us again as Chairman of Committee 7.

Let me now move on to congratulate Mr Tariq Al Awadhi for his nomination as Chairman of WRC-12, as well as the Vice-Chairmen. I have every confidence in your abilities and wish you every success in your endeavours.

Let me also say what a pleasure it is to see François Rancy here at his first WRC as the Director of the Radiocommunication Bureau.

You will all remember his very talented chairing of WRC-07, and we can trust in his proven ability to give this Conference first-rate advice and guidance, as he did during the excellent preparatory phase.

Ladies and gentlemen,

WRC-12 – like the Radiocommunication Assembly last week – represents an important landmark in the life of ITU’s Radiocommunication Sector.

This long ‘life’ is now available to everyone.

Thanks to concerted and diligent efforts from the staff of BR, as well as the General Secretariat, the great history of the Radiocommunication Sector is now fully available online, via the ITU History Portal.

This is both a useful and a valuable tool, as it allows us to consult previous conference documents, including the Final Acts, relating to over a hundred years of decisions which have brought us to this WRC.

We have also prepared a special edition of the ITU News magazine on WRC-12. This helps to inform the ITU community as well as members of the public on the main issues at stake here, and on the impact of the conference's decisions.

Let me therefore take this opportunity to express my thanks for the outstanding work of the ITU staff involved in getting these publications ready in good time for the Conference.

Let me also remind you that World Radio Day – which is a new initiative from UNESCO, and soon to be ratified by the United Nations, I believe – will be celebrated for the first time this year in the middle of WRC-12, on 13 February.

Distinguished colleagues,

Among its 33 agenda items, this Conference will address topical issues of crucial relevance to governments, industry and individuals all over the world.

The importance of broadband – and particularly wireless broadband – has been emphasized by the outcomes of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, which was set up by ITU and UNESCO last year.

The Broadband Leadership Summit, which was held in conjunction with ITU Telecom World 2011, last October, established new targets covering broadband policy, affordability and uptake – and I think we all understand that the achievement of these targets will depend in large part on the decisions made here at WRC-12.

Climate change, including large-scale natural disasters, is also a crucial matter of global interest.

In terms of climate change monitoring and mitigation, the role of radiocommunications is key, and WRC-12 has many agenda items addressing this issue.

The vital topics of safety and security for air and maritime transportation are another main concern of this Conference, and WRC-12 will be expected to take important decisions to help improve safety in the ever-growing transportation sector.

WRC-12 is also tasked with reviewing the international regulatory framework to facilitate equitable access to, and rational use of, the natural resources of the radio-frequency spectrum and the geostationary-satellite orbit.

There are a number of issues to be considered here by WRC – as the key global forum for such affairs – including enhancing the framework itself; addressing the effects of convergence; and addressing the difficulties encountered with the use of regulations applicable to space communications.

Decisions related to the introduction of new and advanced wireless technology are also expected – including those related to cognitive radio systems, short-range devices, electronic news-gathering, and free-space optical links.
Ladies and gentlemen,

In conclusion, WRC-12 will define new and better ways to regulate radio services and applications, and I am firmly convinced that it will represent a major contribution in making the world a better place for all.

It will make the world a better place to communicate – and that will make the world a better place to live in.

We are fortunate to have the opportunity, here at WRC-12, to do immediate and lasting good, and I salute your efforts!

Thank you.