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World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)

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

WSIS+10 High Level Event : Closing Ceremony : Closing Speech

13 June 2014, Geneva, Switzerland

Distinguished colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

What an extraordinary and tremendous week we have had together!

The WSIS+10 High Level Event, as an extended version of the regular WSIS Forum, has brought together more passion, more commitment, and better content than ever before – and I am delighted to have been able to be here in Geneva with you from start to finish.

I opened this event with a quotation from Aristotle, and I would like to close with a quotation from one of Aristotle’s contemporaries, Epicurus: 

And that, I believe, ladies and gentlemen, is the key to the tremendous success of the WSIS process, and of this WSIS+10 High Level Event: friendship.

The concept of multi-stakeholderism would have been precious to Epicurus, I am sure, concerned as he was for all people, and not just the wealthy few, and for the pursuit of a decent life for everyone. Ladies and gentlemen,

The WSIS+10 High Level Event has been a tremendous success, attracting more over 1,600 WSIS stakeholders from more than 140 countries, with thousands more joining us through remote participation.

High-level representatives of the wider WSIS stakeholder community graced the Forum, with more than 100 ministers, and many deputies, ambassadors, CEOs and civil society leaders contributing passionately to the programme.

I would like to thank the ministers in particular, from the bottom of my heart. The presence of so many leaders here in Geneva was a clear sign of stakeholders’ commitment to the WSIS process and of the important role that ICTs will continue to play in tomorrow’s development agenda. Distinguished colleagues,

More than 100 sessions were held during the Forum Track, in the form of high-level dialogues, thematic and country workshops, showcasing theatres, World Cafés, interactive sessions, action line facilitating sessions, and a ministerial round table.

These presented a range of inter-related yet diverse topics such as ICT infrastructure, cybersecurity, enabling environments, accessibility, capacity building, e-learning, m-health, e-agriculture, and multi-stakeholder approaches to internet governance.

As always, there was a vibrant atmosphere and it was tremendous to see so much energy and passion here.

High level dialogues with government ministers and representatives from business and civil society examined key strategic issues – such as measurement and monitoring of the information society; building trust in cyberspace; inclusive knowledge societies; securing cyberspace in a borderless world; how youth can shape ICT policies; and WSIS+10 and the Post 2015 Development Agenda.

These issues were debated through the over-arching theme of the Forum Track throughout the week, which focused, from differing perspectives, on how ICTs can be a driving force for our post-2015 world. An exhibition space provided the perfect atmosphere to network, learn and share.

In addition we celebrated the ten-year anniversaries this week of the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development and the WSIS Stocktaking Process.

As always, we at ITU, along with our co-organizers UNESCO, UNCTAD and UNDP, would like to reiterate that the Forum Track was not just a talk shop but delivered key recommendations and has concrete outcomes.

The Forum Track Outcome Document is already online, and compiles the outcomes and recommendations from all the sessions held at the Forum. Ladies and gentlemen,

The High Level Track, held on Tuesday and Wednesday, was particularly successful, with over 100 high-level policy statements giving a true demonstration of multi-stakeholder commitment towards our work beyond 2015.

During the High Level Event, the UN Group on the Information Society, UNGIS, endorsed an action-oriented plan leading towards the creation of synergies between the WSIS+10 and Post 2015 processes, while reiterating the importance of ICTs in the respective field of activities.

The High Level Track concluded with the endorsement of two powerful consensus-based documents: the WSIS+10 Statement and the WSIS+10 Vision.

The Outcome Documents were developed via a bottom-up and multi-stakeholder approach and represent the voice of real needs that will need to be addressed in a coordinated way in the future.

Let me once again thank the Chairman of the WSIS+10 Multi-stakeholder Preparatory Platform, Professor Minkin; the vice chairs of MPP; all other stakeholders; and in particular 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.

As the UNGIS chair, let me say that in joining forces for this major undertaking of the UN family we have proven that we can really deliver under our respective mandates as ONE.

These outcomes set the stage well for further discussions on the Overall Review of the Implementation of the WSIS Outcomes (WSIS+10), including at CSTD and the UN General Assembly, as well as by ITU membership during the upcoming Plenipotentiary Conference.

The Outcome Documents are available online in the six UN languages already, and we have printed some copies here, as we did not want you to go home empty-handed. This will also allow you to act as Ambassadors of the WSIS process, spreading the good news about the Vision for WSIS beyond 2015 around the world. Distinguished colleagues,

This WSIS+10 High Level Event, as an extended version of the WSIS Forum, has conclusively proved that the WSIS process is about commitment.

I would therefore like to invite all of you to contribute to the WSIS Fund in Trust, following the example of several key partners who have already been with us since 2011.

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, and their generous commitments.

We are very grateful to our Strategic Partners, the UAE and Intel, as well as to 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.

Thank you all – and we hope to see you in the same spirit next year at the 2015 edition of the WSIS Forum here in Geneva.

In closing, I am delighted to see this year’s High Level Event culminating with such strong commitment and support for the WSIS review process (WSIS+10) – from governments, from the private sector, from civil society, from academia, and from international organizations.

You are all the friends of WSIS – and as Epicurus said, having friends is the best way to ensure happiness. Thank you – and I wish you all a safe journey home.