Committed to connecting the world

ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

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

   WSIS Forum 2012 

Opening Ceremony

14 May 2012, Geneva, Switzerland

Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me offer you a very warm welcome – it is a tremendous pleasure to be here with you today to officially open the 2012 WSIS Forum.

As the host – and on behalf of the co-organizers, UNESCO, UNCTAD and UNDP – let me welcome not just the onsite participants, here in Geneva, but also all those who are participating remotely.

Once again, we are honoured by very high-level participation in this event – with more than 40 ministers, several C-level representatives from the private sector and civil society, and more than 1,200 senior WSIS stakeholders.

This is a clear demonstration that ICTs continue to remain right at the top of country-level agendas – and it is our responsibility to ensure that they continue to stay there up to and beyond 2015.

I would personally like to thank all stakeholders for their very proactive approach to the WSIS Forum, both in terms of their active engagement in the preparatory process and in terms of the tremendous advance contributions we have received.

Together, we have been able to build on the open consultation process to put together an exciting and ambitious Forum, comprising almost 140 sessions, which captures the WSIS spirit of turning targets into action.

This collaborative spirit ensures that the WSIS Forum serves as a platform for creating and strengthening partnerships and acts as a hub for cutting-edge discussions.

We can proudly say that the WSIS Forum is truly becoming a stakeholder-driven platform that displays our common desire and commitment to build a people-centric, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society.

Ladies and gentlemen,

From this year on, the WSIS Forum is the unique global platform for coordination of the implementation of the WSIS outcomes – and as such, it plays a very particular role for the future of the WSIS process itself.

As a result, the WSIS Forum provides direct opportunities to ensure a positive impact on the global development agenda – while on the other hand challenging all participants to be concrete, focused and forward-looking.

This year, one of our particular areas of focus is the challenge of sustainable development, and the role that ICTs can and must play in the process. Personally, I am confident that the results of discussions and the concrete recommendations of the WSIS Forum will become an important contribution to the Rio+20 process.

Last month, the ‘Plan of Action for the Overall Review of the Implementation of the WSIS Outcomes’ – WSIS+10 – was endorsed during the Chief Executives Board Meeting here in Geneva, which ITU was proud to co-host.

At the meeting, ITU was given the leading managerial role of the whole Overall Review process, and in this context, the 2012 WSIS Forum launches preparations for the WSIS+10 Overall Review.

A Ministerial Roundtable, two Plenaries and several side meetings of the WSIS Forum this week will provide opportunities for ensuring that the review process builds on the multi-stakeholder inputs and leads towards concrete deliverables shaping the vision beyond 2015.

When we are discussing WSIS+10 Overall Review, we need to ensure that all decisions and the final outcome documents are rooted in strong evidence-based procedures.

The WSIS Stocktaking Process, led by the ITU and established during the Tunis phase of WSIS, will therefore remain at the centre of the process, providing a powerful platform for official reporting.

Today, more than 6,500 stakeholders from over 160 countries are active members of the WSIS Stocktaking platform, continuously sharing information on their efforts.

In this respect, I am proud to launch the 2012 WSIS Stocktaking Report – this draws attention to the most important activities related to the WSIS implementation which have been carried over the past two years.

Distinguished friends and colleagues,

Later on today it will be my privilege to announce the 18 winners of the 2012 WSIS Project Prizes.

The WSIS Project Prizes are an initiative that was created in response to requests from participants at last year’s WSIS Forum for a mechanism to evaluate and reward individuals, governments, civil society, local, regional and international agencies, research institutions and private sector companies for the success of their efforts in implementing development-oriented strategies that leverage the power of ICTs.

The WSIS Prizes are now an integral part of the WSIS Stocktaking Process.

Before I close, let me take a moment to thank the WSIS Forum partners. In particular, I would like to express our gratitude to the UAE as the Government Strategic Partner and Intel as the Private Sector Strategic Partner for the 2012 WSIS Forum.

We are also grateful to the following partners for their contributions towards specific activities:
  •  Belgium – Liège,
  •  Kazakhstan,
  • Oman,
  • Poland,
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Tanzania,
  • and Zimbabwe.

We will also be refreshed by the traditional ceremonial coffee which is sponsored by Ethiopia; and we thank them for their generosity.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me thank you once again for your attention and proactive participation in the 2012 WSIS Forum. I wish you a productive week leading towards the elaboration of positive concrete outcomes.

Thank you.