Committed to connecting the world

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

Global Standards Symposium (GSS) 

 Opening Remarks  

19 November 2012, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Excellencies, Ministers, Ambassadors,
Distinguished colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to be with you here today in Dubai to open this Global Standards Symposium – the first of a series of ITU events to be held in this conference centre over the coming weeks.

It is particularly appropriate that this second GSS is being held here in the United Arab Emirates, at the heart of a hugely dynamic region.

Dubai itself has committed to embracing the use of ICTs in all facets of its development, as part of the government’s prioritization of technology and its importance to the Emirate’s vision for the future.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Four years ago, at the first GSS in Johannesburg, the world was bracing itself as the global financial crisis unravelled.

Today, the outlook is more positive, even if we are still sailing in somewhat uncharted waters.

It is clear, however, that ICTs are one of the best means we have of weathering economic storms – not only as a key sector in their own right, but also by boosting social and economic growth across all other sectors, and by increasing global economic productivity and efficiency.

ICTs are also key in helping us address the most important issues of our time – which include meeting the Millennium Development Goals; global long-term sustainability; and of course climate change.

Excellencies, ladies and gentleman,

Standardization itself is a proven tool in terms of social and economic development and in limiting the undesirable outcomes of market failure.

Standards power a smoothly-functioning global ICT network that supports health, education, literacy, democracy, commerce and entertainment… and almost every other vertical sector.

We must ask ourselves however whether the vast array of forums and consortiums proliferating in the ICT sector today is the most efficient way to address a market that continues to grow in sophistication and complexity.

This GSS is a forum to bring key standards makers together to ensure that the global needs for efficient standardization are met. We should recognize that our roles are complementary and not competitive.

We should be looking to decrease the complexity of the standardisation scenario. So today we would like to identify ways to achieve this.

ITU has long taken a lead on offering a platform for critical dialogue.

We started with a series of informal forum summits, the first of which was in 2000. There are now formal relationships with more than 40 organizations. And partnerships such as the World Standards Cooperation, and the Global Standards Collaboration, have ensured coordination among the main international players.

Our Chief Technology Officer Group which met yesterday has also made a strong contribution in this regard.

This is a challenge – we need to continue working hard to create a collegial working environment. And we need to continue taking into account all needs – whether public or private sector, from the developed and developing worlds.

Fortunately, as a UN organization, we are well placed to achieve this!

It is vital that we regularly examine global ICT standards challenges and understand how best to meet them in the coming years.

As was decided in Johannesburg, it means mainstreaming issues such as accessibility – because ensuring these needs are taken into account at the standardization stage will greatly increase the accessibility of products and services for the billion people worldwide with some form of disability.

and also acknowledging that ICTs must be developed to be as sustainable as possible, and understanding the great value that ICTs can have in mitigating and adapting to climate change.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am pleased to say that ITU membership has consistently made admirable decisions to ensure these principles are at the core of our work, and that our working processes are efficient and inclusive to all.

The work of standards organizations has enabled the smoother, more sustainable and economic introduction of new technologies globally.

Through our standards work, we continue to meet our mandate – to ‘Connect the World’ – let me encourage you in this good work.

Thank you.