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

Overall Review of the Implementation and Follow-up to WSIS

Outcomes at the Regional and International Levels

16th Session of CSTD
04 June 2013, Geneva, Switzerland
Distinguished colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

We all face the same important challenge – the challenge of building a vision for WSIS beyond 2015 in a multi-stakeholder environment.

We can rightly be proud of what we have already achieved, and we have been hearing success stories about how ICTs help empower people and organizations.

Yes the world has changed, and our dreams of ‘an information society for all’ are closer than ever before. But with the growth of the industry, new issues have arisen, and new digital divides have been created.

ITU has consistently been addressing these issues at both at the policy and implementation levels, and our WSIS-related activities remain very pertinent to the work of the Union.

Distinguished colleagues,

As the sole facilitator of Action Lines C2 (infrastructure), C5 (cybersecurity) and C6 (enabling environment), ITU has been implementing various projects and activities and has also been active in identifying emerging trends.

I will not go into great detail, as all of our reports are available online, but let me draw your attention to some of our work.

To reinforce implementation of WSIS Action Line C2, and the multi-stakeholder model of implementing through the public private partnership model, we have continued our regional ITU Connect Summits. These Summits help to mobilize human, financial and technical resources for the implementation of the WSIS connectivity targets of WSIS – and more than 150 billion US dollars of investment opportunities have been identified at these summits since 2005.

The Connect Asia-Pacific Summit will take place in Bangkok, Thailand, on 18 November 2013, in conjunction with ITU World Telecom 2013, bringing top leaders of the ICT ecosystem together to discuss real business.

In addition, recently ITU launched initiatives on m-Powering Development and the Smart Sustainable Development Model.

To reinforce the creation of the enabling environment, under Action Line C6, ITU has accompanied a series of countries in setting up their own broadband policies and broadcasting transition plans, as well as providing a global platform for advancing regulatory debates, while seeking synergies with industry players.

In this context, ITU’s Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR) and Global Regulator-Industry Dialogue (GRID) have become the must-attend event for heads of regulatory agencies, industry CEOs, and top management from leading industry and regional organizations. The 13th GSR will take place in Warsaw, Poland, from 3 to 5 July.

In terms of Action Line C5, ITU is working with Member States to provide concrete assistance in addressing the issue of cybersecurity, and in partnership with IMPACT, is deploying capabilities to build capacity at the national and regional level.

ITU’s Child Online Protection initiative has also been established as an international collaborative network for action to promote the online protection of children worldwide by providing guidance on safe online behaviour in conjunction with other UN agencies and partners.

This will be one of the key components of the upcoming Global Youth Summit which is being held in Costa Rica in September.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The recently concluded WSIS Forum 2013 highlighted many important issues, so let me take this opportunity to provide you with a very short briefing on the outcomes.

During the WSIS Forum this year, more than 1,800 WSIS Stakeholders from 140 countries – including more than 60 ministers and deputies, CEOs and heads of Organizations – contributed passionately towards enriching the content of the Forum, and I am touched to see the commitment and dedication so many of you have put into making it a success.

The WSIS Forum 2013 proved to be the perfect platform for coordinating the implementation of the WSIS outcomes, and in particular the WSIS+10 Overall Review on the Implementation. 

In addition, with reference to the outcomes of the WSIS+10 Visioning Track at the 2013 WSIS Forum, we have issued a statement which may serve as an input to further discussions on the Overall Review of the Implementation of the WSIS Outcomes (WSIS+10).

I was honoured to chair two WSIS+10 plenaries at the WSIS Forum that benefitted from the active contributions of the former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, and the former Presidents of the WSIS Preparatory Committees, Jānis Kārkliņš, Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, UNESCO, and Former President of the Preparatory Committee for the Tunis Phase of WSIS, and Adama Samassekou, Former President of the Preparatory Committee for the Geneva Phase of WSIS.

Ladies and gentlemen,

During the Forum week, all the WSIS Stakeholders, including Ministers, encouraged the WSIS process to think beyond 2015, while emphasizing the importance of the review process.

This was underlined yesterday during the Ministerial Round Table on the Review of Progress Made in the Implementation of the WSIS Outcomes, which I had the honour to moderate.

This year’s WSIS Forum also saw the UN Group on the Information Society, UNGIS, endorse a Joint Statement on the Post 2015 Development Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Progress can only be determined through proper measuring and monitoring of the WSIS outcomes. I would therefore like to encourage Member States to respond to the survey that will be conducted next month by the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development. This will be the last opportunity to contribute to the final Assessment Report on the Achievements of the WSIS Targets.

Increasingly, the WSIS Forum provides tangible examples and experience for ensuring that the vision of the WSIS becomes a reality. A total of 18 concrete Project Prizes were awarded during the event, and I was simply amazed by the many innovative projects on the ground.

I can proudly say that this year’s WSIS Forum culminated with strong and renewed commitment and support to the WSIS review process – from governments, from the private sector, from civil society, and from international organizations. This shows that after 10 years, the information society remains a top priority for all stakeholders.

Distinguished colleagues,

Last September, I contributed to the 67th session of the General Assembly by providing an update on the Plan of Action for the Overall Review, as well as on all activities related to WSIS+10.

Building on this input, the General Assembly’s Resolution on ICT for Development resolved that the modalities for the review process will be considered and should be finalized by the end of this year.

Earlier this year, UNESCO hosted multi-stakeholder meetings on WSIS+10, co-organized by ITU, UNCTAD and UNDP.  The recommendations coming out of that meeting served as inputs during the WSIS Forum 2013.  Concrete proposals came out and are referenced in the WSIS+10 Visioning Statement.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Last year, the ITU Council resolved to support a high-level event on the WSIS+10 Overall Review, to be held next year in conjunction with the World Telecommunication Development Conference, WTDC-14.

At the kind invitation of the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt, both events will be held in Sharm-el Sheikh.

The WSIS+10 High-Level Event starts on 13 April 2014, and will be an extended version of the WSIS Forum addressing the challenge of the Overall Review Process, while providing a regular platform for multi-stakeholder coordination of the implementation of the WSIS outcomes.

This event will build upon the multi-stakeholder inputs received during the WSIS Forum 2013, UNESCOs event, and regional views collected by the ITU on the process through the regional development forums and preparatory meetings for WTDC-14.

In addition, just last week at the ITU Council Working Group on WSIS, the ITUs membership provided strategic guidance on the preparatory process for this high level event.

And just yesterday the Russian Federation proposed to host the Summit in 2015 – a new World Summit on the Information Society.

Distinguished colleagues,

We are now just two years away from 2015, so we need to ensure that the process set up by the Tunis phase continues to be efficient and effective, and that it generates sufficient impact to accelerate the transition from the information society to the knowledge society.

This is a noble and honourable goal – and one I look forward to working together to achieve.

Thank you.