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ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

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

Radiocommunication Advisory Group (RAG)

Opening Speech
22 May 2013, Geneva, Switzerland
Distinguished colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to welcome you this morning to the 2013 meeting of the Radiocommunication Advisory Group.

Before we proceed further, it is with great sadness that ITU mourns the loss of our dear friend and former colleague Mr Abderrazak Berrada, former Member and Chairman of the IFRB.

Mr Berrada has been highly respected since first becoming a member of the IFRB. He graduated as a radio and electronics engineer at the École supérieure d'électricité de Paris. Formerly Secretary-General of the PTT Ministry of Morocco, he took part in many conferences of the Union before he was elected member of the IFRB by the Montreux Plenipotentiary Conference in 1965.

Mr. Berrada served as Chairman of the IFRB in 1968, 1971, 1975, 1980, 1984 and 1989. He was Chairman of Committee 6 at ITU's Plenipotentiary Conference 1998 in Minneapolis. And once again served the Union nobly as Chairman of the Group of Experts to prepare for ITU's Plenipotentiary Conference 2002 on ITU Reform.

I would also wish to take this opportunity to mark the recent passing of Mr Steve Bond, who was a dear and respected colleague for all in ITU-R for so many years; Steve was the ITU-R focal point in UK OFCOM, Chairman of the CEPT WRC-15 preparatory group (CPG) and a very active delegate representing the UK and the CEPT group in many ITU conferences and meetings; his expert opinions, sense of multilateralism and diplomacy will be terribly missed in ITU-R.

To show our deep respect can we pause for a minute of silence please?

Distinguished colleagues,

This meeting is taking place at a crucial time for the ICT Sector, the UN System and the ITU.

Within the next year, there are likely to be more active mobile cellular subscriptions than there are people on the planet.

While a rapidly increasing proportion of these subscriptions is accounted for by 3G services and higher, using IMT-type access developed in ITU-R, we should not forget that two thirds of the world’s inhabitants – some 4.5 billion people – are still offline.

And I think that we all recognize that wireless and mobile technologies will play a vital role in bringing the rest of the world’s people online.

As we approach the 2015 deadline established for the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, the MDGs, the overarching architecture that ICTs provide, within the framework of ITU’s activities, has been a key, tangible tool in accelerating progress.

It will also be absolutely crucial in setting the post-2015 development agenda, and we must all work together to ensure that the positive role of ICTs is well-recognized and stays high on the political agenda.

In this respect, the Rio+20 Summit last year gave us a good roadmap for the sustainable development goals, recognizing the importance of ICTs – and particularly wireless – as an increasingly important catalytic infrastructure, with the potential to better integrate, deliver and enable all three pillars of sustainable development:

  • Economic prosperity;
  • Social inclusion;
  • and environmental sustainability.

I am also pleased to report that the WSIS process is still very much showing its strength, value and relevance,

with this year’s WSIS Forum taking place in Geneva last week and attracting record attendance at all levels.

More than 60 Ministers were present, and we had tremendous participation not just from politicians and NGOs, but also from a broad cross-section of industry experts and civil society.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to see that ITU-R is working diligently to conclude the tasks set by WRC-12, and to implement the preparatory activities for WRC-15 – under the very able guidance of the BR Director, François Rancy, and with the active contribution of its membership.

The updated Radio Regulations entered into force at the beginning of this year, and I commend the BR and the Conference & Publication Department of the General Secretariat for the timely publication of the 2012 edition of the so-called ‘red books’.

This is the first edition which is made available free online, and it will be both interesting and instructive to see the cost/benefit assessment of this measure, which was strongly recommended by the RAG.

I am also looking forward to reviewing the output of the RAG discussions on the draft Strategic Plan for 2016 to 2019, taking into account the progress you made in yesterday’s informal meeting; I am sure that this will substantially assist the Council as it works towards its preparations for PP-14 next year.

And on that I will close – noting that you have a remarkably full agenda to get through in the next two and a half days.

I am confident, nonetheless, that this group will once again conclude with the best possible advice – to guide the Director and the ongoing work of the Radiocommunication Bureau over the coming months ahead.

Your work is genuinely appreciated by all of us here at ITU, and we salute your efforts.

Thank you.