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ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

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

   ICT Network - Virtual Session 

Chair's Opening Remarks


21 September 2012, New York, USA

Distinguished colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to be with you today for this virtual meeting of the UN ICT Network

This electronic session will focus on two topics:
  • Discussions on a system-wide ICT strategic framework; and
  • The World Conference on International Telecommunications, which will be taking place in December, and which is particularly relevant to our work here in the UN ICT Network. We are lucky to have Doreen Bogdan with us today, as she is the Conference Secretary for WCIT-12, and she will be able to brief us and answer any questions you may have.

In addition, we will discuss relevant reporting to the UN High-Level committees, as well as the agenda for our full meeting next month.

Before I hand the floor over to Ken Herman, our Secretary, I would like to address an important issue which affects us all here within the ICT Network, which is the timing, length and frequency of our meetings.

As we are all very clearly aware, we are living in an era of accelerating change and technological progress, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the world of ICTs.

I would therefore argue that we need to meet more frequently than we have in the past. Indeed, I would be so bold as to suggest that instead of meeting twice a year, we could perhaps meet – albeit more briefly – once a month.

We could do this, by using the power of the very same technology we are using today to allow ourselves to meet more frequently, and to do more of our work and conduct more of our meetings virtually.

As experts in ICTs, we are very much in the right place at the right time here – both in terms of adopting these new virtual working practices ourselves, and being able to ‘lead by example’ within and across the UN agencies.

In an era of reduced budgets and busy schedules, it makes sound economic sense as well as being both practical and efficient to leverage technology for our mutual advantage. We have all confronted the difficult realities of finding available and affordable accommodation – especially here at the UN Headquarters in New York – and we would all welcome, I am sure, a lighter travel schedule.

At ITU, we have been seeing increased remote participation across all of our work, and notably in the Study Groups which work to create new standards and recommendations, and which feature strong participation from the private sector – which has in the past been somewhat ahead of the UN agencies in terms of modern working practices.

I myself have increasingly found virtual participation to increase my own personal productivity, and I can guarantee to make myself available from anywhere in the world for these very valuable ICT Network meetings.

So perhaps we can adopt a similar model to that used by the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, which only meets face to face twice a year, but which has regular virtual meetings featuring a great number of the Commissioners (including a number of heads of UN agencies) and their focal points, and which will be meeting here in New York on Sunday, just ahead of the UN General Assembly.

I know that this group has plans to meet next month for a face-to-face session, and I support proceeding with that planned event, especially as it comes in coordination with the management committee of the International Computer Centre. While I cannot personally attend that session, I will consult with our Secretary on options for facilitating the discussion.

Subsequently, as I proposed, we will convene virtually every month for an exchange of views and to ensure progress on our agreed-upon work plan.

And on that note please let me hand the floor to Ken, to continue the proceedings.

Thank you.