Committed to connecting the world

ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

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

Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology
 Model PP-14 

 Opening Address

18 October 2013, Seoul, Republic of Korea


Your Excellency, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning,
Members of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Dear students,

It is a great honour to be here with you this morning. This event is primarily about the future; and as young people you represent the future and you are the most important stakeholders in a hyperconnected world, where ICTs are embedded everywhere.

A few weeks ago we held the BYND 2015 Global Youth Summit in Costa Rica, and it gave me immense pleasure to see young people from around the world coming together to shape the sustainable post-2015 development agenda.

Along with the 600 participants meeting onsite, more than 8,000 young people from 83 countries contributed their ideas online through a crowdsourcing platform and through 43 national and local hubs.

In addition, the Summit reached 10 million people via Twitter.

They even came up with a Declaration – the BYND 2015 Global Youth Declaration – which called for equitable and universal access to ICTs.

The declaration calls upon the United Nations, the international community and all member states to consider their words and put them into action.

Let me encourage you to take this declaration into account as you proceed with modelling the ITU’s Plenipotentiary Conference, which is being held in one year’s time, in Busan, and in particular as you discuss a Resolution on e-waste.

As Secretary-General of the ITU, it is heartening for me to see such rising awareness with a sense of responsibility.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As many of you will know, ITU is the oldest international organization in the world, with a history stretching back almost 150 years. We are the UN agency responsible for information and communication technologies, ICTs, and we are headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, with twelve regional and area offices around the world.

Our membership comprises 193 Member States and over 700 private-sector entities, including several dozen academic institutions – including KAIST.

So as you can see, public-private partnership is embedded in ITU’s DNA.

Over the past century and a half, we have helped to fulfil the dreams and desires of people to communicate efficiently and safely, irrespective of distance.

Indeed, we have been so successful in achieving technological landmarks that the entire society can now be called the Digital Society, and cities are called Smart Cities.

The Plenipotentiary Conference, held every four years, is the highest decision-making body of the ITU – which I am sure you know comprises a General Secretariat and three Sectors: ITU-R, which deals with radiocommunication and satellite issues; ITU-T, which deals with Standardization; and ITU-D, which deals with development issues.

Distinguished guests,

We are fortunate to be living through a unique period of global digital enlightenment, and this is something Korea is probably more aware of than most other countries.

Indeed, Korea is itself a leading example of how ICTs deliver solid social and economic progress.

We have made quite extraordinary progress over the past decade or so, and there are now almost as many mobile cellular subscriptions worldwide as there are people.

However, as our dependence on new technologies grows, we face new challenges – one of which is of course E-Waste.

As part of our core mandate, ITU develops standards, policies and best practices – and these include the key issue of e-waste.

Now that you understand ITU Resolutions, let me cite one for you.

The World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly, held last year in Dubai, adopted ITU-T Resolution 79: “The role of telecommunications / information and communication technology in handling and controlling e-waste from telecommunication and information technology equipment and methods of treating it.”

Within the ITU-T family of standards, we have several standards such as the ones dealing with Universal Power Adapter and Charger solutions 1, which aim to reduce energy consumption, reduce the demand on raw materials, and reduce e-waste.

Let me also draw your attention to another ITU-T standard, which details the necessity of rare-metal recycling and the procedures to be employed when recycling these metals 2.

ITU also provides technical and policy assistance to developing countries, including support to develop legislation on e-waste and raise awareness and build capacity in this area.

We have also developed a ‘Toolkit on Environmental Sustainability for the ICT Sector’ which provides ICT organizations with a checklist of sustainability requirements to improve their eco-efficiency and ensure transparent sustainability reporting. In particular, this toolkit looks at securing an environmentally sustainable solution for ICT equipment’s End of Life.

Finally, as part of our research activities, we have also created publications which contribute to increasing the body of knowledge in the area of e-waste.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As with all of our work, we firmly believe that we can only succeed by working together. In the case of e-waste, this means working together to increase the sharing of resources – including equipment – and the minimizing of waste; including of course recycling wherever possible.

Two years ago, together with the UNEP-Basel Convention, UNU, StEP and CEDARE, ITU-T launched a global joint survey on e-waste to collect detailed data on e-waste management, policies and standards.

This allowed us to construct a comprehensive overview of the current e-waste landscape and to identify the challenges and areas of work for the future.

Let me encourage you to use this survey as a resource in your work ahead, and let me wish you all a very successful debate.

And finally, let me look forward to this time next year, when we will be in Korea for the real thing: PP-14!


Thank you.
[1] See Recommendation ITU-T L.1000 (Universal power adapter and charger solution for mobile terminals and other hand-held ICT devices), & Recommendation ITU-T L.1001 (External universal power adapter solutions for stationary information and communication technology devices),
[2] See Recommendation ITU-T L.1100 (A method to provide recycling information of rare metals in ICT products),