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ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

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

   Workshop on Sector Membership  

 Opening Remarks     

18 June 2012, Geneva, Switzerland

Ladies & Gentlemen,
Distinguished experts,
Dear staff and colleagues,

It is my pleasure to welcome you here today to this Workshop on Sector Membership.

As you all know, we have an exceptionally busy year. We are gearing up for a series of important meetings and conferences, including Council, the Connect Americas Summit, the Global Symposium for Regulators, Telecom World, the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA) and the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-2012).

While these are some of the most high profile activities, there is much more happening as well, including the many projects, workshops, training and country requests which are being implemented every day by the team in Geneva and in the field and area offices. In all of these efforts, our aim is to serve our members.

Some people may have the impression that ITU is an organization in Geneva. While it’s true that ITU is headquartered here, I often correct media and others by clarifying that ITU is not a Secretariat. The Secretariat exists simply to serve its Member States and Sector Members.

The diversity of our membership is a key strength. With 193 Member States and more than 700 Sector Members and Associates from industry, international and regional organizations and most recently, academia, ITU is a formidable organization, and quite unique within the UN family.

As an institution, ITU relies on the support of its members. The financial, technical and human resources that you provide are the lifeblood of the Union. Your contributions ensure that ITU functions effectively and remains relevant for the challenges of today and tomorrow.

ITU has a great story. And I enjoy telling it every chance I get. Ours is a history of partnership and collaboration. Between people working together across borders to address complex, shared challenges.

The examples are well-known: the telephone numbering system, radiofrequency spectrum allocation, the PSTN billing system, Quality of Service and the xDSL standards that underpin much of the modern Internet, among others.

More and more, telecommunications and the ICT sector are changing at breakneck speed. When it comes to industry membership, we are in an increasingly competitive environment, with many organizations offering attractive services for companies, especially those involved in standards, and policy and regulations.

We cannot be complacent. As you will see in the presentations this morning, over the past decade, we experienced a substantial shift in the composition of our industry membership. This is a challenge that we need to address as we consider potential reforms.

Recognizing the need for a substantive evaluation of our approach to Sector Membership, PP-10 gave Council a mandate to consider and propose changes. I encourage you to make full use of this mandate, and put forward ideas that we can take to Council 2012 and 2013, in preparation for PP-14.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our good friend Bruce Gracie, Chairman of the Financial and Human Resources Working Group of Council, for guiding our work today.

The Secretariat has been reviewing membership policies and our competitive environment to help support a discussion among Member States and Sector Members on how we can best meet changing needs. It is vital that we get it right to ensure that deliver relevant and meaningful, value-for-money services.

As Secretary-General, I have strived to continuously breathe new life into this fabulous institution, while maintaining our timeless culture of constructive debate and achieving consensus-based solutions where everyone wins.

Today’s workshop is an important step towards laying the foundation for renewal, keeping in mind what makes ITU great.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on how we can better engage and serve our members, as well as bring in new members to strengthen the Union.

Thank you for your participation and contributions.