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ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

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

   ITU WSIS Forum 2012 

UNGIS - High Level Segment


14 May 2012, Geneva, Switzerland

Distinguished colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to be with you here this morning for the High Level Segment of the 8th meeting of the United Nations Group on the Information Society, UNGIS.

Since 2006, when UNGIS was endorsed by the Chief Executives Board, UNGIS has been serving as an inter-agency mechanism to coordinate substantive policy issues facing the UN system’s implementation of the Geneva Plan of Action and Tunis Agenda for the Information Society.

UNGIS has also been ensuring coordination within the UN development system in order to respond to the international focus on science and technology transfer.

I am therefore delighted that UNGIS continues to build its strong identity, thanks to excellent collaboration between its members and cooperation between the chairs. I strongly believe that thanks to this collaborative spirit we are in a strong position to ensure that ICTs will remain at the top of the UN Global Agenda beyond 2015.

As the Chair of UNGIS, I am proud to be able to inform you that all of the planned UNGIS activities for year 2011-2012 have been implemented with positive results. Let me therefore take a few moments to describe a few of these.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Under the UNGS umbrella, at the request of our membership, as well as the CEB, I had the pleasure to lead the open consultation process on the Overall Review of the Implementation of the WSIS Outcomes.

This paved the way towards the elaboration of the Plan of Action, and today it is my pleasure to be able to tell you that the spring session of the CEB endorsed the Plan of Action and tasked ITU to take the lead managerial role for the WSIS+10 process.

In this context, on Tuesday and Friday this week we will officially launch the preparations for the Overall Review – and I am looking forward to hearing from all stakeholders who should take the time to contribute to this important exercise, and to join forces in shaping the expected outcomes of the final review.

In response to the call for contributions by the Rio+20 secretariat, UNGIS has prepared a joint contribution highlighting the relevant aspects of ICTs and the Information Society in helping to achieve a green economy and sustainable development.

This contribution has been a real collaborative effort, based on the inputs and comments from many UNGIS members.

In order to address an urgent need for financing for ICT4D, UNGIS and the UNDP Administrator initiated the process of bringing the ICT component to the UN Development Assistance Framework. As a result of asking national coordinators to reflect ICTs in their programmes, we have handled a number of requests for guidelines, and seen further coordination at the level of the Development Group.

UNCTAD, at its 13th conference, organized an event on ICT for Development, drawing attention to the substantial policy issues which are relevant to the implementation of the WSIS outcomes.

A side event on Mobile for Development was also organized at ITU Telecom World 2011 last October, drawing attention to the tremendous opportunities being driven by the mobile revolution.

Other activities on open access, science, and mobile for development have also been carried out within the framework of the UNGIS Joint Initiatives.

Last but not least, substantive work has been done in terms of strengthening efficiencies in the UNGIS working methods and in raising awareness of UNGIS and its work.

Contacts with other inter-agency mechanisms have been established, and recommendations for UNGIS have been elaborated based on the interviews conducted – these will be presented at the working level meeting.

Beyond the regular calls between the Chairs and Vice Chairs, we have also introduced new virtual meetings, which have been very much appreciated by members.

I am also very pleased that we are continuing to amass and present useful information on ICT-related projects around the world – through UNGIS as the interface and via the medium of the WSIS Stocktaking Platform, which is managed and maintained by ITU.

The UNESCO-hosted Knowledge Community also provides very useful functionalities for online discussions among WSIS stakeholders, facilitating the collection of diverse views, in particular during open consultations.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This is all very good, but we also need to ensure that other agencies get involved in our work as well – and I am counting on your support to encourage increased participation.

In conclusion, let me thank all members for your continuing support for UNGIS. Each of our organizations does much to accelerate the implementation of the WSIS outcomes, but I am also confident that together we may do more, and that united, the impact of our joint advocacy will be stronger.

ICTs are absolutely vital in pursuing the UN mission and in helping to deliver peace and security; and they will continue to be essential tools in developing the post-MDG agenda.

Let me therefore close by reaffirming ITU’s continuing commitment to further work on UNGIS, and take this opportunity to formally hand over the chairmanship of UNGIS to the new chair, UNCTAD.

Thank you.