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ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

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

Broadband Commission for Digital Development        
Media Briefing
17 March 2013, Mexico City, Mexico
Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me thank you so much for joining us today as special guests at this 7th meeting of the Broadband Commission. I hope you found it an interesting experience to follow the meeting this morning – let me just say that you are a privileged group of journalists, since these meetings are not generally open to the  press. However, at the generous invitation of our host Mr Slim, we were delighted to have the chance of inviting you to be part of this important gathering.

To give you a short background on this Commission, it was set up in May 2010 following discussions between myself, UN Secretary-General Mr Ban Ki-moon and UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.

We were all convinced that information and communication technologies – and particularly broadband networks – would be the key element in driving progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, which at that time were just 5 years away.

The Commission was conceived as a cross-sectoral, high-level group that comprised a very broad range of representation.

That meant we had people from government, people from the private sector, and people from NGOs and the UN family. And we had people from different economic sectors – not just technology, but healthcare, education, environmental management, financial investment, and different types of public services.

The thinking behind this was that broadband is THE transformational technology that can benefit ALL sectors. We believed that it is only through fostering a coordinated vision that we will come up with efficient and effective network development plans that everyone can take advantage of.

The main purpose of the Commission is to advocate for broadband as absolutely critical to every country’s future prosperity and competitiveness. To this end, we issued two initial reports, and set up several working groups – on Public-Private Partnerships, on Youth, on Climate Change, and on Education, just to name a few.

These groups have brought a special focus to the application of broadband to key areas, and their output reports are available as part of the media kit you have on your USB key.

The Commission’s newest Working Group, the Broadband Working Group on Gender, had its first full meeting here in Mexico City yesterday, chaired by Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Administrator of our sister agency, the United Nations Development Programme.

The issue of gender is certainly a hot topic right now – this Working Group meeting was the best-attended meeting of any Working Group, and we are looking forward very much to its output later this year. I believe we might also see the adoption today of an important new target on broadband access – but we will have to await the afternoon session of the Commission which will take a final decision on that.

At the next meeting of the Commission, which will take place in September in New York, we will also issue the second edition of our global State of Broadband report, which measures each country’s progress towards the 4 Broadband targets we set in 2011. You can also find a copy of those targets in your media kit.

I’d now like to give our other Commission principals a chance to speak, so I will leave it there and with pleasure hand the floor to my counterpart in UNESCO, Ms Irina Bokova.