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World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)

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

WSISI+10 High Level Event
Opening Ceremony : Opening Speech

10 June 2014, Geneva, Switzerland

Distinguished guests and colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a tremendous pleasure and a great honour to be here with you this morning for the Opening Ceremony of the WSIS+10 High Level Event, and let me welcome all of the WSIS stakeholders who are with us today – both physically here in Geneva, and those joining us remotely from around the world.

This unique event is coordinated by the ITU, and co-organized by ITU, UNESCO, UNCTAD, and UNDP – representing a real joint effort from all the UN Agencies that comprise the secretariat for the preparatory process.

Looking back, we can now see that it really was a wise and visionary decision to convene the World Summit on the Information Society. Issues were raised then for the first time in a global setting that remain just as relevant if not even more so today.

Like ITU itself, the WSIS process has been one that seeks consensus wherever possible, and I am proud of the efforts that have been made by all stakeholders in this regard – even when consensus has not proved possible. Ladies and gentlemen,

This week we will endorse two powerful and important outcome documents:   

These Outcome Documents have been developed in an open and inclusive preparatory process, the WSIS+10 Multi-stakeholder Preparatory Platform, the MPP, which just concluded its work yesterday evening.

And what a fantastic effort everybody has made!

I know that it has not been easy, but the results have been worth the sacrifices made.

Indeed, your efforts remind me of the words of the Greek philosopher Aristotle, writing well over 2,000 years ago:

I am sure that these Outcome Documents will play an important role in ‘making a difference’, by providing a series of fresh priorities for joint action – action which is oriented towards the further development of the global ICT ecosystem, while bringing the power of ICTs in facilitating development to the forefront.

Let me thank our sister UN agencies – including UNESCO, UNCTAD, UNDP, FAO, ILO, ITC, UNDESA, UNODC, UPU, UN Women, WMO, WHO, WFP, WIPO and the UN Regional Commissions – for their expert inputs and for working tirelessly with all stakeholders to deliver these two documents and to make this event a success. Distinguished colleagues,

As we discovered during the preparatory process, a great deal has already been achieved in the implementation of all of the WSIS Action Lines, and very significant progress has been made in reaching the WSIS targets.

A comprehensive report by the partnership, with a final quantitative assessment, will be launched by Brahima Sanou, the Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, later this morning.

The MPP also identified many new challenges that have emerged since 2005, and has provided recommendations for the implementation of WSIS beyond 2015. Ladies and gentlemen,

As you are aware, this High Level Event is as an extended version of the annual WSIS Forum.

This event is about implementation, and real action on the ground, so we are very happy to see such strong engagement and high level commitment to this process from so many high level representatives from governments, the private sector, civil society, academia, the technical community and international organizations.

This solid, diverse, multi-stakeholder participation is really encouraging and I am confident that together we will be able to ensure the continuing positive impact from ICTs for Development beyond 2015.

This week’s agenda was built in a bottom-up manner, and comprises more than 100 workshops, High–level Dialogues and a myriad of interactive sessions that will give excellent opportunities to network, learn and share. Distinguished colleagues,

I am privileged to have taken over as the Chair of UNGIS this year, and earlier this morning we completed a successful UNGIS high-level meeting.

At the meeting, several heads of UN agencies reinforced their commitment to strengthening the coordination of substantive and policy issues facing the United Nations’ implementation of the WSIS outcomes.

All the UN heads have also underlined the importance of ensuring the link between the WSIS+10 review process, and the new vision for the Post 2015 Development Agenda, including Sustainable Development Goals. Ladies and gentlemen,

As you are aware, this is a non-budgeted activity, and it would not have been possible to organize a grand event like this without the support of our partners.

We are therefore very grateful to our Strategic Partners, the UAE and Intel, as well as Japan, Kuwait, Mexico, Oman, Poland, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia and Switzerland, and to our Contributing Partners Côte d’Ivoire, Tunisia, IFIP, ISOC, ICANN, CICG and ITU News.

As a result of your support, we can see that – to quote Aristotle once again:

After ten years I am delighted to see that the high ideals of WSIS remain very much alive and in very good health.

And on that positive note, let me wish you an excellent week here in Geneva, and we will look forward to welcoming you again at the WSIS Forum in 2015. Thank you.