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ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

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

   Broadband Commission for Digital Development

Co-Vice-Chair's Welcoming Remarks


23 September 2012, New York, USA

Distinguished Commissioners,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me offer you a very warm welcome to the Yale Club for the sixth meeting of the Commission, and the second meeting to be held here in New York.

It is a real pleasure and a great honour to have so many Commissioners and their representatives here with us today, in this fine establishment.

Samuel Morse – who did so much for the world of telegraphy in the 19th century – studied at Yale College and graduated Phi  Beta Kappa from this great institution of learning in 1810, just over two hundred years ago; so this location is particularly fitting for a meeting of the Broadband Commission.

As usual we have a great agenda today, and we will be hearing about the tremendous progress being made across the broadband planet, as well as devoting sessions to our own workplan moving forward and of course the launch of the ‘State of Broadband 2012’ report.

Distinguished Commissioners,

I very much want to make sure we have time for fruitful and interactive discussions, so I will keep my opening remarks brief this morning.

I do however want to say a few words about WCIT-12, the World Conference on International Telecommunications, which will be taking place in Dubai in December, and which is likely to be very relevant to the work of the Broadband Commission.

Indeed, many Commissioners and their organizations will themselves have already been directly involved in discussions taking place around WCIT, and this is a good opportunity, as we are all gathered here today, to summarize some of the key issues.

WCIT-12 has been convened to look at ways of revising the International Telecommunication Regulations, the ITRs, which date back to 1988.

As many of you will be very well aware, the 1988 ITRs were instrumental in enabling the global deployment of the Internet and setting the stage for the information society.

But as we all know, the ICT sector has changed dramatically over the past 25 years, and ICTs today have a major and growing impact on global social and economic development.

Our hope, therefore, is that the ITRs can be amended to further extend the benefits of ICTs to all the world’s people, and set the stage for global knowledge society.

Unfortunately, however, there has been unhelpful commentary in the media and elsewhere over the past months which has distracted audiences from remembering that WCIT-12 is about:
  • The free flow of information;
  • The continued development of broadband;
  • Continuing investment in networks, services and applications;
  • And perhaps most importantly – in this very fast-moving world – continuing innovation.

These are some of the principles you have underscored in the report we are launching today.

There have been headlines suggesting that the ITU, or the UN, is in some way trying to take over the Internet.

This is clearly ridiculous and we should just put this aside.  Where we need to focus is on how to ensure more investment in broadband infrastructure.

And how to ensure that access to ICTs is affordable and equitable to all the world’s people – indeed, it is hard to imagine anyone disagreeing that the benefits of ICTs should be brought to all the citizens of the world.

So the question before WCIT is how best can the ITRs be adapted to facilitate the achievement of those goals.

I am therefore confident that WCIT-12 will give us an excellent opportunity to keep broadband at the very top of the global agenda.

Broadband is much bigger than the Broadband Commission, or even the United Nations.

Broadband affects everyone on the planet, and is arguably the greatest transformative technology in human history.

So let’s keep up the momentum and ensure that we reach the targets we set for 2015.