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ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

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

ITU Council 2013

 State of the Union Address
11 June 2013, Geneva, Switzerland
Distinguished Councillors
Ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to formally welcome you to the 2013 session of ITU Council.

Once again, it has been a very important and busy year for ITU.

Let me start by asking you to take a moment to honour the memory of some of ITU’s longest-serving supporters who passed away since the 2012 session of Council.

In particular I would like to mention the loss of our dear friend and former colleague Abderrazak Berrada, former Member and Chairman of the IFRB; and also of Steve Bond, who was a dear and respected colleague for all in ITU-R for so many years; as well as Warren Richards, a well-known and respected figure in international telecommunications policy, and – very recently – Filiberto Au Kim, an excellent Cuban radiocommunications engineer, who took part in many World Radiocommunication Conferences.

Distinguished Councillors,

In a moment I will give you a resumé of our activities since we last met, in July 2012, and outline the main events which lie ahead over the coming months before Council 2014.

First, however, let me set the stage for this session of Council by reminding ourselves that Council gives us a tremendous opportunity to develop a shared vision for the Union.

Each Member State of course has its own priorities and preoccupations – but ITU is not the place where battles are fought. ITU is not the place for confrontation or divisiveness.

Indeed, as we all know, ITU’s role is to act as a facilitator and a neutral forum, so that bridges can be built and compromises brokered.

This is what we have done for close to 150 years, as a technical rather than a political organization, with a robust culture of consensus and trust.

We succeeded in the 19th century, and we succeeded all the way through a very turbulent 20th century – and we shall continue to succeed in the 21st century!

Indeed, ITU will continue to maintain and strengthen its bridge-building role, and leverage our unique position as a place where our members can come together in a neutral setting to discuss the most important issues of the day.

I am now in my seventh year as Secretary-General, and I am pleased to note the excellent bond of trust and the strong working relationships between Council, the Member States and ITU management.

In this environment, and in this atmosphere, no challenge is too high for us!

And ITU management and the ITU Secretariat are here at your service – to implement your decisions, recommendations and resolutions to the very best of our ability.

Distinguished Councillors,

In a world where ICTs have become fundamental building blocks of social and economic progress, we need to ensure that all the world’s people have safe, secure and affordable broadband access, and not just the richest third of humanity.

This is the global challenge we face.

And it is an extraordinary opportunity for ITU to help make the world a better place for all.

Indeed it is an opportunity for all three sectors of ITU to make a difference – through spectrum allocation and satellites; through new standards; through policy development; and through keeping the ICT sector informed.

As the world comes online, we also need to ensure that we meet the fundamental challenge of our generation, which is of course cybersecurity – which means protecting both freedom and privacy.

Let me therefore appeal to all our Member States to take the necessary measures to make the online world safe and secure.

Resumé of activities since Council 2012…

Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me now take this opportunity to remind ourselves of some of the key activities which have been undertaken since this distinguished group of Councillors met last July.

ITU Connect Americas Summit

Distinguished Councillors,

Immediately after last year’s session of Council, we were delighted with the results of the ITU Connect Americas Summit, which was organized by BDT and which took place in Panama. The Summit built on the previous successes of ITU Connect Africa in 2007, ITU Connect CIS in 2009, and ITU Connect Arab States in March 2012.

Connect Americas was held from 17 to 19 July and was timed to capitalize on the momentum already built up in the Americas region last year: in April by the Summit of the Americas in Colombia; and in June by the B20 and G20 Summits in Mexico, and the Rio+20 Conference in Brazil.

The two-day Summit brought together Heads of State and Government and Ministers along with leaders of regional development banks and organizations, international agencies, the ICT industry, non-governmental organizations and academia.

At the Summit we saw private sector and non-governmental stakeholders from 36 countries in the region entering into multi-million dollar partnerships with governments – with identified market opportunities presented to development partners to the tune of over 54 billion US dollars on the table to fund a wide range of ICT projects, from infrastructure development to emergency communications.

World Telecommunication Indicators Meeting

At the end of the summer we held the 10th World Telecommunication / ICT Indicators Meeting, WTIM, in Bangkok, Thailand, which was organized by BDT.

For the first time, the WTIM attracted very high representation from both Telecommunication Regulatory Authorities and National Statistical Offices who debated issues of data collection and processing coordination.

Among other issues, the following topics were addressed in detail: the national coordination of ICT statistics; measuring fixed and mobile broadband, including pricing, traffic and capacity; measuring progress towards the achievement of the WSIS outcomes (jointly organized with the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development); measuring gender-related ICT indicators; and emerging issues such as measuring digital broadcasting, including IPTV.

The WTIM was preceded by a two-day meeting of the Expert Group on Telecommunication / ICT Indicators.

Owing to its appeal and success, participants renamed this event from a Meeting to a Symposium for future editions.


At the beginning of October, we saw the highly-successful 12th Global Symposium for Regulators in Sri Lanka.

The GSR continues to be one of ITU-D’s flagship events, and last year’s edition saw the participation of 446 regulators, policy makers and private sector players from more than 70 countries.

The GSR theme was ‘Why Regulate in a Networked Society’, allowing regulators, policy-makers and industry leaders to discuss the evolving regulatory landscape; trends and national spectrum policies; international mobile roaming; net neutrality; data protection; and privacy in the cloud.

The opening days of the GSR were dedicated to the Global Regulators-Industry Dialogue, GRID, which presented a unique opportunity and a neutral platform for ITU-D Sector Members to share their views on major issues facing the ICT sector.

A new Forum for private sector Chief Regulatory Officers was created to facilitate discussion and information-sharing among Senior ICT service and technology industry executives.

ITU Telecom World 2012

Just two weeks after GSR, from 14 to 18 October, we were in Dubai for ITU Telecom World 2012 for five days of critical dialogue, networking and knowledge-sharing at the highest level.

Our thanks are due to the UAE administration for their support in making this event so successful. As the second edition of ITU Telecom World following the new format pioneered in 2011, the event again showed significant improvement in financial results, indicating that our strategy and issues-based agenda resonate with clients and member states alike.

The unique audience mix included Heads of State and Government, ministers, regulators, industry CEOs, heads of international organizations, consultants, digital thought-leaders and global media.

A total of over 230 influential speakers from more than 60 countries took part in over 50 interactive sessions, exploring the challenges and opportunities arising from the current transformation of the ICT industry in terms of business strategy, government policy and technology.

The conclusions of these debates were made available across all of our channels in our well-received event outcomes microsite and report.

On the lively showfloor, almost 120 companies from 30 countries and 20 national and thematic pavilions showcased investment opportunities, the latest products, and applications and solutions from around the world. The active participation of developing countries in the exhibition was highly appreciated.

The finalists of the second Young Innovators Competition demonstrated their winning ICT-based solutions to real-world developmental issues, taking part in workshops, debates, mentoring and pitching sessions.

Beyond the conference rooms in Dubai, social media and live webcasting enabled individuals from nearly 100 different countries to engage and interact with the event online in 19 different languages, reaching eight million people by Twitter alone.


Ladies and gentlemen,

At the end of November we held the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly, WTSA-12, in Dubai.

The WTSA, held every four years, is a crucial event for the Standardization Sector, for ITU as a whole, and indeed for the entire ICT sector.

WTSA-12 saw a record 102 Member States participating, and defined the next period of study for ITU-T, calling for increased emphasis on topics including e-health, software-defined networking, and e-waste.

Key outcomes of WTSA-12 included:

  • The adoption of a total of 50 Resolutions, one Opinion and six new ITU-T Recommendations.
  • The Assembly retained ten study groups and appointed four new chairmen.
  • The Assembly also saw strong support for ITU-T’s BSG – Bridging the Standardization Gap – programme. The BSG programme endeavours to increase the participation of developing countries in ITU’s work and gives a new impetus to the efforts to bridge the standardization gap.

That ITU-T leadership teams now come from 35 countries including 25 developing countries, is, I believe, a good indication of the progress we are making with bridging the standardization gap.

However the new work we are asked to undertake will be a challenge without increased funding – so let me take this opportunity to invite contributions to the BSG fund, which has been an enormous help in bringing about the successes we have achieved so far.

  • WTSA-12 also established a new Review Committee which will be an opportunity for free thinking, brainstorming, and a chance to come up with ideas for new strategies to address major challenges facing the standardization sector.

The decision to create a Review Committee was informed by the results of the Global Standards Symposium, the GSS, which was held the day before WTSA, and which highlighted how the demarcation between different standards bodies is becoming blurred, and that ICT standardization no longer applies just to the ICT industry, and that more must be done to integrate the needs of vertical sectors.

I believe the Review Committee will be crucial in establishing a framework to create more efficient standardization mechanisms to meet the demands of an increasingly converged industry and societal needs – for example in the areas of e-health and climate change.


Distinguished Councillors,

Immediately after WTSA-12 we went straight into the World Conference on International Telecommunications, WCIT-12, which took place in Dubai from 3 to 14 December.

WCIT-12 was a huge event for ITU and our membership, and the conference was attended by 1,581 participants representing 152 Member States and 37 Observer Organizations and Entities.

As you know, WCIT-12 concluded with a treaty in the form of a new set of International Telecommunication Regulations, the ITRs. The new treaty text charts a globally-agreed roadmap that promises future connectivity for all and ensures sufficient communications capacity to cope with the ongoing exponential growth in voice, video and data.

The WCIT-12 Final Acts, signed by 89 Member States of ITU onsite, were published on 14 December – this compares very well to the 112 countries that signed onsite when the 1988 ITRs were negotiated. Another two Member States have acceded to the Treaty after the Conference.

WCIT-12 was the first conference of its kind at which the developing world was a fully-empowered player at the table. Unlike the previous ITRs, the new treaty text reflects many developing-country concerns, and is a richer and more powerful document for doing so. WCIT-12 was an exemplary instance of an open and transparent multilateral process in which all stakeholders had the chance to make their voices heard.

WCIT-12 was also the most open and transparent treaty-making conference ever held – with millions of people able to participate remotely via webcast in the six UN languages; social media and interactive briefings; and stakeholders from government, the private sector and civil society all represented in the negotiations.

ITU firmly believes in the social and economic benefits of improved connectivity for all – and in this regard I would like to celebrate some of the key achievements and highlights of the new ITRs.

These include a special emphasis on freedom of access to international telecommunication services; and an affirmation of countries’ commitment to implement the treaty in a manner that respects and upholds their human rights obligations.

Let me also list some other key provisions, which include:

  • Improving transparency in mobile roaming charges;
  • Improving energy efficiency and cutting e-waste;
  • Bringing the benefits of ICTs to the 650 million people living with some kind of disability;
  • Bringing greater security by promoting greater international cooperation in ensuring the security and robustness of international telecommunication networks;
  • Combatting unsolicited bulk electronic communications (commonly known as spam);
  • Preventing misuse of international telecommunication numbering resources;
  • Improving broadband connectivity to landlocked developing countries and small island states;
  • Calling for greater broadband investment;
  • And improving access to emergency services.

For many of these issues, this is the first and only truly global framework in existence today under which members can work together.

The treaty is open for accession. You should also be aware that while expressing Reservations is no longer possible, Member States at the time of accession are still free to make unilateral interpretative declarations. The purpose of such a declaration, in principle, is not to exclude or limit the application of a treaty provision but merely to clarify a State’s understanding of it.

To conclude, let me reiterate my conviction that thanks to WCIT-12, a healthy digital ecosystem – where everyone on the planet can participate – is now within our grasp.

It is important to note here that we saw more division than ever before at WCIT-12, due to the nature of the matters being discussed – but I am delighted that membership has also seen the importance of building bridges in the tradition of ITU. And indeed this was exemplified at WTPF-13, which I will come to in a moment.

Finally, let me take a moment here to thank the United Arab Emirates for hosting these three very important ITU events back-to-back last year – your support was a major contributing factor in the spectacular success of these three events.

‘Girls in ICT Day’

Distinguished Councillors,

On 25 April – the fourth Thursday in April – we were very pleased once again to celebrate ‘Girls in ICT Day’, an annual event that was established as you know by PP-10 in Guadalajara.

Since its inception, Girls in ICT Day has gained huge momentum around the world. Last year, we registered 1,300 events in 90 countries. This year, we have seen over 1,500 activities in more than 120 countries spanning 21 time zones.

ITU celebrated the event this year in Geneva and also in Brussels, at the invitation of the European Commission’s DG Connect, and with the personal support of EC Vice-President Neelie Kroes.

During a networking lunch at the European Parliament, ‘Tech Needs Girls’ prizes were awarded to ten talented young individuals, including a group of young Nigerian girls, for innovative technology-based projects.

Back here at ITU headquarters, there was a compelling programme held around the theme ‘Discover, Learn and Share’. Co-organized by ITU and the US Mission in Geneva, the event welcomed over 70 schoolgirls aged 14 to 17 from local Swiss and French schools, and kicked off with a tour of the ICT Discovery, followed by workshops around four topics: satellites; coding; mobile app creation; and digital videography.

I would like to thank the Member States who were behind the Resolution that led to Girls in ICT Day, which has led to such spectacular outcomes.


Ladies and gentlemen,

The five days from 13 to 17 May saw three major ITU events being held in parallel in an exciting and challenging week for the Union: the WSIS Forum 2013; the fifth World Telecommunication and ICT Policy Forum; and World Telecommunication and Information Society Day.

2013 WSIS Forum

Like previous editions, the WSIS Forum this year was co-organized by ITU, UNDP, UNESCO and UNCTAD.

The Forum was the best-attended yet, attracting more than 1,800 WSIS stakeholders from over 140 countries. Many high-level representatives of the wider WSIS stakeholder community graced the Forum with their presence, including more than 60 ministers, deputy minsters and ambassadors, along with CEOs and civil society leaders.

We were also joined online this year by many thousands of remote participants.

The main focus of the 2013 Forum was discussions around the WSIS Review Process – WSIS+10 – for measuring progress towards targets set in 2005 in Tunis at WSIS, and around forging a common vision for new actions beyond 2015.

The Forum saw the awarding of WSIS Project Prizes to 18 distinguished winners from around the world, recognizing projects that have made an outstanding contribution to the WSIS implementation.

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. This triggered important discussions on the creation of synergies between the post-2015 and the WSIS+10 processes.

In addition, with reference to the outcomes of the WSIS+10 Visioning Track at the Forum, we issued a statement and a document entitled ‘The WSIS+10 Visioning Challenge’ which serve as inputs to further discussions on the Overall Review of the Implementation of the WSIS Outcomes (WSIS+10) – including CSTD, UNGA, and of course membership here at ITU Council.

The WSIS Forum 2013 Outcome Document was already made available online at the end of the Forum, compiling the outcomes and recommendations from the more than 150 sessions held during the week.


Distinguished Councillors,

At the same time as the WSIS Forum was taking place, we also held the fifth World Telecommunication and ICT Policy Forum, WTPF-13.

On Monday, before the Forum opened, the Strategic Dialogue gave us some fascinating insights from a range of different perspectives including leading executives, key policy pioneers, and regulatory leaders.

We heard strong defences of innovation and competition, as well as pragmatic discussions about what needs to be done to ensure that broadband is accessible and affordable for everybody, and not just to one third of the world’s population.

The Forum itself welcomed over 900 participants from 126 Member States, including over 40 Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Ambassadors, while over 3,000 people participated remotely via webcast.

All sessions – including the WTPF working groups – were webcast, and there was active participation throughout the conference, which welcomed contributions from the floor from governments, industry, civil society, international organizations and academic representatives, representing all stakeholders in the Internet ecosystem, and encompassing both members and non-members of the ITU itself.

The output of the WTPF, achieved through multi-stakeholder consensus, is not just an improved understanding of International Internet-related public policy matters; we also have some strong outcomes to support the ICT sector as it moves forward, in the shape of the Opinions:

  • Concerning IXPs, this Opinion will facilitate understanding of their vital role in promoting efficient interconnection, and reducing Internet connection charges.
  • I am also pleased that we have a strong Opinion on an enabling environment for broadband connectivity, a topic which is very close to my heart, and which will do much to improve broadband connectivity worldwide.
  • The two Opinions on IPv4 and IPv6 will help raise awareness of this important issue and facilitate the transition.
  • Concerning the multi-stakeholder Opinion, it is clear that there are still differences in interpretation about what multi-stakeholderism means in reality; nevertheless, I am delighted that you all worked closely together, so we have a good opinion on that.
  • And as for enhanced cooperation, we all have an improved understanding of the importance of working together – and indeed, we are doing so in good spirits and with good intentions.

These opinions will help expand connectivity and improve broadband access for all. So our work at the WTPF – and the work done at the preparatory meetings – was well worthwhile.

It was proposed to continue the dialogue and consider a seventh Opinion – but we stopped at six. The dialogue, including the Brazilian proposal, will continue however – in Council Working Groups, and in other forums both within and outside ITU.

And I have proposed that the Council Working Group on International Internet-related Public Policy Issues that discusses similar issues be open to all stakeholders, just like WTPF.

Frankly, I was delighted to see all stakeholders coming together and working in such a positive spirit of collaboration at WTPF-13.

It made me proud to see ITU is playing its part to champion multi-stakeholderism and to use its convening power to facilitate constructive dialogue.

This is a major step forward for the Union in spite of the very sensitive nature of the subject matter being discussed at this first major event following WCIT-12, and demonstrates that once again we are working as One ITU.


Ladies and gentlemen,

On 17 May, we celebrated World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, WTISD, which this year marked the 148th anniversary of the establishment of ITU in 1865.

The WTISD theme for 2013 was ‘ICTs and Improving Road Safety’, in line with the United Nations ‘Decade of Action for Road Safety’.

Road traffic safety is clearly a global concern for public health and injury prevention, given that every year, 1.3 million people die in traffic-related accidents, and that every life lost is one too many.

Another 20 to 50 million people are injured on the world’s roads, mainly in developing countries around the world.

As a result, governments and individuals suffer estimated economic losses exceeding 500 billion US dollars a year.

Text messaging and phoning while driving are now responsible for more deaths than drunk driving – so now is clearly the time to reinforce efforts to increase awareness of the dangers, and also to harness technology itself as part of the solution.

I am glad to report that ITU has been leading worldwide efforts in developing state-of-the-art ICT standards for intelligent transport systems – ITS – and driver safety that use a combination of computers, communications, positioning and automation technologies, including in-car radars for collision avoidance.

ITU has also been developing standards for safe user interfaces and communication systems in vehicles as well as optimizing driving performance by eliminating unsafe technology-related distractions while driving.

I am also pleased to note that the allocation of harmonized, globally available frequency ranges for automotive radar applications is on the agenda of WRC-15.

On 17 May, we were proud to give the 2013 WTISD awards to three laureates in recognition of their leadership and dedication towards promoting ICTs as a means of improving road safety:

Ueli Maurer, President of the Swiss Confederation;

Volkmar Denner, Chairman of the Board of Management of Robert Bosch GmbH; and

Jean Todt, President of the International Automobile Federation, the FIA.

Formula-1 champion driver, Felipe Massa, who drove his 125th Grand Prix for Ferrari just before WTISD, was with us in Geneva to give a demonstration of how even the most talented professional driver can be affected by distractions.


Distinguished Councillors,

The past year has also been very successful for all three ITU sectors, and we have been as busy – if not busier than ever before – in implementing the wishes of membership through the work of ITU-R, ITU-T and ITU-D.


Concerning ITU-R, the main activities since the last session of Council relate to the implementation of the decisions of WRC-12; ongoing radiocommunication standardization activities; and the preparations for WRC-15.

Since the last session of Council, the Radiocommunication Advisory Group met last month, and the Radio Regulations Board met in March. The RRB will meet again later this month.

The Radiocommunication Bureau completed the preparation of the updated edition of the Radio Regulations resulting from the decisions of WRC-12 in a timely fashion. This edition has been made available and downloadable online, free of charge, in accordance with Council Decision 571. The associated 2012 Edition of the Rules of Procedure and First Revision was also finalized and published.

The processing of space and terrestrial services notifications was carried out with increased efficiency. All regulatory deadlines for processing frequency assignment notices have continued to be met – taking into account the additional tasks resulting from WRC-12 decisions and including the development of new software tools.

ITU-R Study Groups continue to conduct technical studies for WRC-15 agenda items and the draft texts being developed will be considered at the Second Session of the Conference Preparatory Meeting, CPM15-2, which will be held in Geneva in March 2015.

The first ITU Inter-regional Workshop on WRC-15 Preparation will be held in Geneva in December this year to review the progress made halfway through the WRC-15 preparatory cycle.

ITU-R has seen continued active support from its membership throughout the last year with increasing participation in and contribution to both meetings and events.

A number of ITU-R Recommendations, Reports and Handbooks dealing with high-interest areas were finalized and approved on topics such as RFID systems; power line telecommunication systems; radio-wave propagation; radio interfaces for the satellite component of IMT-Advanced; and 3DTV and UHDTV programme production.

Inter-sectoral activities have also been very evident throughout the period, particularly concerning ITU’s priority topics of climate change; emergency communications; accessibility; and the transition from analogue to digital terrestrial broadcasting.

ITU-R also continued its work in informing and assisting membership on radiocommunication issues – notably at the 2012 World Radiocommunication Seminar, WRS-12, which took place in December, with some 400 participants from 92 Member States and 30 Sector members and international organizations.

ITU-R also participated in more than 30 regional / country seminars and workshops dealing with network planning, spectrum management, digital broadcasting and the digital dividend, climate-change and conference-related issues.

More specific assistance was provided to individual Member States in response to their direct requests relating to WRC-12 decisions.


Moving on to ITU-T, the main event of the past year has of course been the very successful World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly, WTSA-12, which I covered earlier.

A WTSA does not of course interrupt ongoing work in the T-Sector, which sees robust continuing support from its membership. Indeed, in 2012, the number of ITU-T members increased, and there are now 38 ITU-T Academia members.

Last year also saw a record output from ITU-T, with 339 texts being approved in 2012.

One highlight was a new standard for ‘last-mile’ copper connections from fibre termination points to customers’ homes, giving fibre-optic like speeds over copper wire.

Crucial standards were also finalized for building synchronization and protection into high-speed backhaul networks, to keep pace with the phenomenal growth of data traffic due to smart phones.

The PrimeTime Emmy award-winning H.264 video codec was given 3D extensions, and superseded by Recommendation ITU-T H.265, with double the efficiency – making a huge potential saving on network capacity.

We expect ITU-T H.265 to unleash a new phase of innovation in video production spanning the whole ICT spectrum, from mobile devices right through to Ultra-High Definition TV.

Following the success of the universal charging solution for mobile phones, members approved a new Universal Power Adapter standard for devices such as modems, set-top boxes, home networking equipment and fixed telephones.

I would also like to mention the ITU Patent Roundtable, which has kick-started a process that key industry players and regulators hope will find a globally-agreed solution to concerns that patent hold-ups may reduce innovation and competition.

Following the WTSA, new impetus has been given to work on e-health, software-defined networking, and e-waste – and I am pleased to report good progress has already been made in recent months.

Finally, last week’s TSAG meeting established a new Focus Group looking at how international ICT standards help address the scarcity of water supply in many countries; and a new Joint Coordination Activity on Software-Defined Networking.


ITU-D, for its part, continues to be engaged in a comprehensive and inclusive preparatory process leading to next year’s World Telecommunication Development Conference, WTDC-14, which I will be saying more about later, as we look ahead over the coming months.

Over the past year, the regional presence has been further strengthened, with more empowerment of field offices through better processes, connectivity and electronic working methods, and additional staff, as well as closer co-operation with regional organizations.

I am also pleased to report that under the frameworks of Result-Based Budgeting and Result-Based Management – RBB and RBM – it is now possible to periodically assess the level of implementation and use of resources for each objective, output and product / service, including at the regional level.

Last November, ITU-D launched two important new initiatives: m-Powering Development and the Smart Sustainable Development Model. These two initiatives are aimed at achieving sustainable development by harnessing smart ICTs, and in particular mobile broadband. Global roll out of the initiatives, which will be steered by BDT, is expected by April next year.

Another important new BDT initiative is the ITU Academy, which assists developing countries by making ICT education, training and development opportunities available at the highest possible levels of quality.

Apart from these new initiatives, ITU-D continues its work on many other fronts where it already has a proven track record – including support in favour of LDCs and Small Island Developing States; digital inclusion; project implementation; and cybersecurity, where the collaboration with the International Multilateral Partnership Against Cyber Threats, IMPACT, is stronger than ever.

ITU-D also continues to do important work in the field of ICT indicators, and – based on the work of the annual World Telecommunication / ICT Indicators Symposium – publishes the well-renowned ‘Measuring the Information Society’ report.

This report, published annually, features two important benchmarking tools to measure the information society – the ICT Development Index, IDI, and the ICT Price Basket, IPB – and produces rankings based on these.

Within the ITU-D Study Groups, the quality of the discussions as well as the practical relevance of the reports, conclusions and outputs are also noteworthy. With the introduction of Result-Based Management, the assessment of this important work is becoming more precise, thus allowing an even stronger focus on the issues that really matter.

Broadband Commission

Ladies and gentlemen,

As you know, another prominent activity we have been actively involved in – since its creation by ITU and UNESCO in 2010 – is the Broadband Commission for Digital Development.

Since the 2012 session of Council, the Broadband Commission has met twice – in New York, last September, and in Mexico City, in March.

At the New York meeting – timed to coincide with the start of the UN General Assembly – the Commission released its first-ever country-by-country snapshot of the state of broadband deployment worldwide.

The report – entitled ‘The State of Broadband 2012: Achieving Digital Inclusion for All’ – evaluates the roll-out of broadband around the world and tracks progress towards achieving the four advocacy targets set by the Commission in 2011 for boosting broadband affordability and uptake.

It provides country rankings across up to 177 economies on economic impact, penetration, national broadband policy, and connecting people and dwellings.

The report was welcomed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who called broadband a ‘transformative technology that has the potential to spark advances across all three pillars of sustainable development: economic prosperity, social inclusion and environmental sustainability.’

The March meeting of the Commission was hosted in Mexico City by co-Chair Carlos Slim, and saw in-depth discussions on roadblocks to faster broadband deployment and potential solutions to impediments such as investment financing, with the focus on innovative strategies to help countries accelerate progress towards achieving the Commission’s broadband targets.

The Mexico meeting also saw the Commission endorse a new broadband target mandating ‘gender equality in broadband access by the year 2020’, following the first face-to-face meeting of the Broadband Commission’s Working Group on Gender, which also took place in Mexico.

Finally, the Mexico meeting saw the Commission launch a new Working Group on the post-2015 development agenda and the future Sustainable Development Goals, the SDGs. This ties in closely with ITU’s ‘m-Powering Development’ initiative, which I mentioned earlier.

Between now and the next session of Council, the Commission will meet twice more – in New York this September, and then again next spring. The September meeting will see the launch of the ‘State of Broadband 2013’ report, as well as the first outcomes from the Working Group on Gender.

Preview of the year ahead…

Distinguished Councillors,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me now give you a brief preview of the exciting months ahead of us, before we meet again for the 2014 session of Council next April.

Firstly, of course, we have this session of Council, which as always has a full agenda to work through.

I will not go into detail here, but I look forward to productive and detailed discussions concerning the draft budget for 2014/2015, and I would like to note the creation of the new Council Working Group on the Strategic Plan.

As you are all aware, we are now gearing up for the Plenipotentiary Conference in Korea next year, and I know that this meeting of Council will be very useful in those preparations.

Major ITU events coming up over the next few months include:

The GSR next month;

The Global Youth Summit in September;

The ITU Connect Asia-Pacific Summit in November;

ITU Telecom World 2013, also in November;

WTIS 2013 in December;

WTDC-14 next April; and

WSIS+10, also next April.


In just three weeks time we will be holding this year’s Global Symposium for Regulators in Warsaw, Poland, with the theme of ‘4th Generation Regulation: Driving Digital Communications Ahead’.

Once again, BDT has lined-up an impressive programme for this year, with many prominent speakers and expert panels.

Highlights will include the quest for additional wireless spectrum to support future mobile growth; strategies to drive 4G infrastructure investment; digital money; roadblocks to IPv6 implementation; and emerging new revenue models for telcos, such as online advertising and IP-based broadcasting.

Global Youth Summit

After the summer break, we will be holding the Global Youth Summit in Costa Rica, from 9 to 11 September, under the theme of ‘BYND 2015’.

The Summit will welcome over 500 young people aged 18 to 25 from countries around the world, as well as featuring a stream for 9 to 17 year old Costa Rican youth.

The Summit will be a platform for young people to ensure their inclusion in the most important decisions of the 21st century, and will highlight their priorities and capture their combined voice in crucial national and international policy and decision-making processes.

Young people are pioneering the use of new technologies and driving new trends in our sector. The challenge is to inspire youth to use ICTs to help change the world for the better. Luckily, there are many young people leading the way. The Summit will bring many of these youth together, to inspire and challenge one another, and mobilize others to do the same.

There will be few speeches and little protocol. The Summit will have a very hands-on, interactive format. The talks, sessions and workshops will be webcast, with online conversations happening via social media, curated and facilitated by young participants.

The outcomes of the Summit will include a crowdsourced, multimedia statement to be presented to Heads of State at the UN General Assembly later in September.

Let me therefore take this opportunity to encourage all Member States to send a delegation of youth to this truly unique event. It will be a great opportunity to showcase the young talent from your country, and to open them up to new opportunities.

ITU Connect Asia-Pacific Summit

On 18 November, just ahead of ITU World Telecom 2013, we will be holding the ITU Connect Asia-Pacific Summit, which will be one of the key ITU events of the year.

The Summit will be held in Bangkok, Thailand, and will reinforce partnerships, create investment opportunities, and ensure financial mechanisms to address the most urgent priorities in the region.

It will offer a venue for leaders from the public and private sectors as well as international and regional financing and development agencies to network face-to-face and forge new partnerships for the accelerated roll out of broadband connectivity.

We already have confirmed participation from many regional leaders, and we expect bold decisions and commitments to be announced, building on the successes already achieved by the earlier ITU Connect Summits.

ITU Telecom World 2013

From 19 to 22 November, also in Bangkok, ITU Telecom World 2013 will once again bring together leading representatives of the ICT community from the public and private sectors for debate, knowledge-exchange and networking at the highest level.

Recognizing that the ICT sector is undergoing a period of major transition, the overall theme of the event is ‘Embracing Change in a Digital World’.

Debates will focus on the impact of major areas of change including communication and business models, industry value chains, new technologies, and new regulatory and standardization approaches.

The showfloor will showcase technologies, solutions, investment opportunities and partnership potential from around the world in industry showcases and National and Thematic Pavilions.

A new feature this year, the InnovationSpace, will highlight a range of exciting cutting-edge technological solutions and applications, in addition to displaying the winning projects of the Young Innovator Competition finalists.

We are grateful for the support of the government of the Kingdom of Thailand in hosting both ITU Telecom World 2013 and the ITU Connect Asia-Pacific Summit.

And we look forward to welcoming Heads of State and Government, ministers, regulators and industry CEOs from across the ICT spectrum to Bangkok – which provides an ideal platform at the heart of South East Asia and is a key gateway to the fast-growing ASEAN region.

11th World Telecommunication / ICT Indicators Symposium

From 4 to 6 December, the 11th World Telecommunication / ICT Indicators Symposium, WTIS 2013, being organized by BDT and hosted by the Government of Mexico, will take place in Mexico City.

WTIS 2013 will feature an international high-level panel debate on the topic of monitoring international development goals, including the MDGs and WSIS.

Other sessions of WTIS 2013 will address topics such as the national coordination of ICT statistics; data quality assurance; measuring ICT and gender; and digital broadcasting. There will also be discussions around rapidly evolving areas in the mobile sector, such the measurement of machine-to-machine connections and LTE-advanced services.

WTIS 2013 will be preceded by a two-day meeting of the Expert Group on Telecommunication / ICT Indicators, EGTI, and the Expert Group on Household Indicators, EGH, that will present the results of their work to WTIS for adoption.

Given the importance of this Symposium, let me encourage Member States to participate at Ministerial level and Sector Members at CEO level.


Ladies and gentlemen,

Next year, ITU's sixth World Telecommunication Development Conference, WTDC-14, will be taking place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt from 31 March to 11 April, at the kind invitation of the Government of Egypt.

Later this week I will have the privilege of signing the Host Country Agreement with Egypt for both WTDC-14 and next year’s WSIS Forum, and let me thank Egypt in advance for this.

WTDC-14 will provide a vital forum for the discussion and consideration of the main objectives, priorities, projects and programmes relevant to telecommunication development. It will define the workplan of ITU’s development sector for the next four years, and will prepare input for the strategic plan of the Union.

Two of the six Regional Preparatory Meetings for WTDC-14 have already taken place – in Moldova for the CIS region, and in Cambodia for the Asia-Pacific region.

The RPMs for the other regions – the Americas, Africa, the Arab region, and Europe – will take place over the course of the next six months.

Participants at the RPMs, as well as WTDC-14 itself, of course, will include government delegates, Ministers, Ambassadors and representatives from the private sector, as well as regional and international organizations.


Immediately after WTDC-14, also in Sharm-el Sheikh, we will be holding the WSIS+10 High Level Event, as mandated by Council last year, to provide the necessary vision; the way forward beyond 2015; and the commitment to ensure that ICTs remain high on the political agenda over the next decade.

The WSIS+10 High Level Event will be an extended version of the WSIS Forum and will be open to all WSIS stakeholders.

It will simultaneously address the challenge of the WSIS overall review process, while providing a platform for multi-stakeholder coordination of the implementation of the WSIS outcomes, with the involvement of all necessary UN focal points and relevant stakeholders.

As an extended version of the WSIS Forum it will feature high-level segments, dialogues, thematic and country workshops, showcasing theatres, ministerial round tables, Action Line Facilitation and Facilitators Coordination Sessions, WSIS stocktaking sessions, and meetings of the Partnership on Measuring ICTs for Development, as well as the UN Group on the Information Society.

It will also provide an opportunity to award WSIS Stakeholders with the WSIS Project Prizes in 18 categories, in line with the WSIS Action Lines.

Preliminary steps have already been taken to ensure the effective organization of this high-level event in Egypt, and to make sure that it meets the UN requirements for high-profile events of this kind.

The high level commitment demonstrated during this year's WSIS Forum is evident in the outcomes and paves the way towards successful results of the WSIS+10 High Level Event next year.

Closing Section

Distinguished Councillors,
Ladies and gentlemen,

In closing, let me return to my remarks at the beginning of my State of the Union address.

Before I do that, however, let me thank ITU’s staff, who have been supporting the membership as well as the Council Working Groups throughout the year and whose work is invaluable. Let me also thank the Council Working Groups and their Chairs, for their continuing and ongoing efforts.

You have all witnessed the tremendous efforts which have been made to balance the budget and the transparency of the preparatory process.

At ITU, we continue to strive to be the leader in modern staff management – creating a flexible and motivated work force that can easily be mobilized to respond rapidly to the evolving needs of Member States.

In times of economic uncertainty in many regions, increased productivity – enabled by a positive relationship between staff and management – can help to minimize any negative impact on the work of the Union.

Given that this requires ever more flexibility and innovation from staff, I am pleased to be able to report that the positive dialogue between staff and management continues in a very healthy fashion.

Distinguished Councillors,

We are all aware that there is no longer any part of modern life on planet earth that is not directly impacted by ICTs – and therefore by the important work that we do here at ITU.

In the second decade of the 21st century we are living in a world which will soon have as many mobile cellular subscriptions as it does people, and a world where some 2.7 billion people will be online by the end of this year.

ITU’s work permeates into every business, every government office, every hospital and school, and every household.

ITU’s work is also increasingly vital to each and any political grouping – whether it be G8, G20, OECD or G77 – and affects every social and economic sector of activity in the world today.

And we never forget that the work we do here at ITU every day, fulfilling the mandate given to us by you, our membership, has the power to improve the lives of each and every person on the planet.

  • We are proud to work together.
  • We are proud to bridge the digital divide
  • And we are proud to build the bridges that will take us to the future.

Indeed: the time to build is upon us.

And we shall succeed.

Thank you.