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ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

MIT-ITU Seminar

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

MIT-ITU Seminar: Broadband Development and Innovation using the Internet

30 June 2014, Yinchuan, China

Your Excellency, Mr. Liu Lihua, Vice Minister, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology,
Your Excellency, Mr Yuan Jiajun, Member of the Standing Committee of  the CPC Committee and Vice Chairman of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region,
Distinguished colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure and a privilege to be here with you once again at this important seminar, and to join you in the beautiful city of Yinchuan.

On behalf of ITU, I would like to express our sincere gratitude to Mr. Liu Lihua, the honourable Vice Minister of MIIT, and Mr Yuan Jiajun, the honourable Vice Chairman of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, for your gracious invitation, your personal presence, and your support for this MIIT-ITU Seminar, which has a long history and serves as a fine example of our close cooperation.

I happily recall having addressed this annual seminar before, in Shanghai, in 2007, where we discussed the opportunities and challenges facing China while the country’s telecommunication sector was undergoing a major transformation.

I consider myself very fortunate to be a part of such a dynamic and transformational sector – a sector that has been undergoing continuous transformation on its way to becoming the information and knowledge society of the 21st century.

Next year, as many of you will know, marks the 150th anniversary of ITU, and we are looking forward to celebrating the long journey from the telegraphic era to the age of ubiquitous communications.

On a personal note, I am very grateful for the support of ITU’s members who have continuously manifested their trust in me as the leader of the ITU over the past eight years.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Clearly, this is the decade of broadband – and we all now recognize the vital importance of broadband as a social and economic development tool, and as a critical component of smart society.

Broadband enables high-speed, evidence-based, remote decision-making, bringing efficiencies to all sectors, and enhancing possibilities for cross-sectoral collaboration.

We should all be proud of the achievements already made in terms of ICT development, with the number of mobile cellular subscriptions globally rapidly approaching seven billion, and with close to three billion people online by the end of 2014, according to the latest ITU data.

We also continue to be astonished by the extraordinary proliferation of mobile broadband, which will reach 32% global penetration by the end of this year – a number that will have almost doubled since the end of 2011, and quadrupled since the end of 2009.

And yet there is still so much to do, with more than four billion people still offline – without access to the extraordinary benefits of the online world.

We need to continue rolling out the infrastructure as fast as we can, and we need to make sure that it gets used to improve the lives of people everywhere.

Distinguished colleagues,

This is why the ITU set up the Broadband Commission for Digital Development with UNESCO back in 2010 – to identify ways that broadband can accelerate the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, as well as working towards the post-2015 development agenda.

The Broadband Commission brings together around 60 Commissioners from the public and private sectors – all leaders in their fields – to engage in advocacy and high-level thought leadership.

Together, they demonstrate that:

    • Broadband networks are basic infrastructure in modern society – just like roads, electricity or water;
    • Broadband networks are uniquely powerful tools for accelerating progress towards the MDGs;
    • Broadband networks are remarkably cost-effective, and offer impressive returns-on-investment in both developed and developing economies alike;
    • Broadband networks underpin all industrial sectors, and are increasingly the foundation of public services and social progress;
    • Broadband networks need to be promoted by governments in joint partnership with industry, in order to reap the full benefits.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Last November, during the ITU Connect Asia-Pacific Summit in Bangkok, ITU and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission conducted a contest on ‘Connecting at the Roots’, to demonstrate the transformational power of broadband.

I was very pleased to see how broadband was used innovatively to deliver solutions in the areas of disaster management, education, social engagement, and entrepreneurship, among others.

At ITU, we have initiatives such as M-Powering Development and the Smart Sustainable Development Model, as well as a Focus Group on Smart Sustainable Cities, amongst many others which look at sustainable development leveraging the power of ICTs.

The ITU will be organizing the 4th ITU Green Standards Week focusing on opportunities of using ICT to build a green economy and ensure a sustainable future. It will be held in Beijing from 22-26 September this year and we count on your support for its success.

Distinguished colleagues,

This is an important and critical year for ITU and for our membership – with the World Telecommunication Development Conference and the WSIS+10 High Level Event already behind us, and the Plenipotentiary Conference coming up in just a few months.

WTDC-14 was held in Dubai in April, with the theme of ‘Broadband for Sustainable Development’. The conference set the agenda for the work of ITU’s Development Sector for the next four years, and endorsed the ITU-wide goals of:

    • Growth  enable and foster access to and increased use of telecommunications/ICTs;
    • Inclusiveness  bridge the digital divide and provide broadband for all;
    • Sustainability – manage challenges resulting from telecommunication/ICT development; and
    • Innovation and partnership  lead, shape and adapt the Union to the changing telecommunication/ICT environment.

The WSIS+10 High Level Event was then held in Geneva earlier this month. It brought together more than 1,600 participants from over 140 countries, with many thousands more joining 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 all contributing passionately to the programme – including of course China.

The WSIS+10 High Level Event reviewed the progress made in the implementation of the WSIS outcomes under the mandates of participating agencies.

It took stock of achievements in the last ten years based on reports of all WSIS stakeholders, including those submitted by countries, Action Line Facilitators and other stakeholders.

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

These 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.

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.

Looking forward, we have the Plenipotentiary Conference in Busan, Republic of Korea, starting on 20 October, and running through until 7 November.

As the Union’s highest decision-making body, the conference will set the Union's general policies; adopt four-year strategic and financial plans; and elect the senior management team of the Union, the members of Council, and the members of the Radio Regulations Board.

I look forward immensely to welcoming you all to PP-14 – and I count on your support and active participation at the conference.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Here in Yinchuan, this seminar offers a welcome opportunity to discuss broadband development and innovation, and I have every confidence that it will be a great success.

We are fortunate to be here in China, which is of course one of the world’s leading countries in terms of telecommunication technology and applications, and which has successfully demonstrated the potential to innovate.

Indeed, China’s technical capability, its demographic structure, and its rich experience, all provide unique opportunities for development.

Let me therefore call upon the policy makers, industry leaders and other stakeholders in this great country to work towards harnessing these opportunities for all.

The ITU looks forward to contributions from Chinese experts in the work of the Union, and to implementing joint projects and programmes together – for example in the areas of capacity building, conformity and interoperability, and spectrum monitoring.

Distinguished colleagues,

We are privileged to be working in a sector which offers almost unlimited potential.

ICTs – and in particular broadband networks – offer perhaps the greatest opportunity we have ever had to make rapid and solid advances in global social and economic development.

As we approach the cusp between the MDGs next year, and the beginning of the post-2015 development process, this is of tremendous and timely importance.

Personally, I have tremendous faith that we will see continued broadband investment roll-out – in this region and across the world – and that this will truly bring us into the broadband economy of the 21st century.

And on that very positive note, I thank all the experts and participants who have joined this Seminar and let me wish this seminar all the best success.

Thank you for your attention.