Committed to connecting the world


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

DNA Summit Power Breakfast 

      Presentation of Award to Sir Tim Berners-Lee      

26 July 2012, London, United Kingdom

Distinguished colleagues,
Lords, ladies and gentlemen

It is a great pleasure to be here with you in London this morning for the DNA Summit Power Breakfast. I think we are all capable of using the DNA message – Decide Now Act – to make the world a better place.

It is of course always a pleasure to be in the UK’s fine capital, but no more so than on this historic occasion, with the Olympic Games starting tomorrow! Indeed, we are most flattered to have the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, with us this morning.

It is my honour today to present a Lifetime Achievement award to Sir Tim Berners-Lee, a truly pivotal figure in the Information Society.

Tim’s work with Robert Cailliau in 1990, on implementing the first successful communication between an HTTP client and an Internet server, marks the founding of the World Wide Web, and the beginning of the global information revolution.

Today, Tim continues to oversee the Web's development as director of the World Wide Web Consortium, W3C, and we all owe him a debt of gratitude for the work he has done – and continues to do – in bringing the power of global information and knowledge to all the world's people.

Here in London in July 2012, could you imagine a life without the Internet?

I certainly can’t!

Already this morning I’ve used the Internet to be in touch with my family. To check my email. To do online check-in for my return flight. And even to find my way here, to the House of Lords!

And tomorrow, I am sure, we will all be following the opening of the Olympic Games online and onscreen.

And yet we must not forget that while there are over six billion mobile phone subscriptions, almost two thirds of the world’s people are still offline.

This is why ITU and UNESCO set up the Broadband Commission for Digital Development in 2010 – to advocate for accelerated broadband rollout globally, and to bring the incredible benefits of being online to all the world’s people.

We have almost sixty Broadband Commissioners, who are all leaders in their fields – representing governments, industry, academia and international agencies – including Amir Dossal, of course, who is here with us today.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As nobody knows better than Tim Berners-Lee, broadband is a set of transformative technologies, which are fundamentally changing the way we live.

Sir Tim was a special guest at the second meeting of the Broadband Commission in New York in September 2010.

And he is well aware of the importance of broadband in helping to ensure sustainable social and economic growth – not just in the rich world, but in every country, rich and poor, developed and developing.

Broadband will deliver unexpected and unpredictable benefits – but we can list a few of the benefits we can already be sure about:
  • In an ageing world, broadband will help to deliver essential services such as patient monitoring and the provision of healthcare.
  • In a world with a growing population of young people, broadband will help deliver education and 21st century government services.
  • In the digital economy, broadband will revolutionize the way goods and services are created, delivered and used.
  • And broadband will also help us address the biggest issues of our time – such as climate change and environmental sustainability.
As leader of the ITU, the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies, I am of course as passionate about this issue as Sir Tim – and I am delighted that we continue to make such solid progress in our mission to ‘Connect the World’.

Our work at ITU builds on Sir Tim’s marvellous creation, and I am proud to be working for an organization that helps the Internet spread to every corner of the earth.

In closing let me say how pleased I am – how pleased we all should be – that we are at the beginning of a journey towards an extraordinary new and sustainable world; a broadband world.

And I look forward very much to the DNA Summit which will be taking place on 23 and 24 January next year.

This falls conveniently between the Digital Life Design Conference in Germany and the World Economic Forum in Davos – and will bring together 101 of the best minds in the world to converse and collaborate to bring about positive change.

So January 2013 will be clearly be all about the 3 D’s: DLD; DNA and Davos – three events, back-to-back, that will help build a better future.

This is a goal we can all subscribe to, and let me add my vote of support to this tremendous initiative.

So let me thank you again – and if I could now ask Sir Tim Berners-Lee to join me here to receive the Lifetime Achievement award.