Speech by ITU Secretary-General, Houlin Zhao
World 13th World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Symposium (WTIS-15)
Opening Ceremony : Opening Speech
30 November 2015, Hiroshima, Japan
Your Excellency, Ms Sanae Takaichi, Minister for Internal Affairs and Communication,
Mr Yasua Sakamoto, Vice-Minister for Policy Coordination, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication,
Mr Kiyoshi Mori, Director-General for International Affairs, Global ICT Strategy Bureau, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication and Chair of WTIS-15,
Mr Brahima Sanou, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to be here with you today to welcome you to the 13th World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Symposium.
First of all, I would like to express my deep gratitude to the Government of Japan for hosting this important event. Japan has made every effort to make this event a success. Our host country is famous for its hospitality, which I have learnt is referred to as "Omotenashi". Omotenashi does not have a literal translation but it could be described as the spirit of hospitality. There is no better way to start this week, and this Symposium.
Japan has made and continues to make immense contribution to the work of the Union and is famous for a robust, innovative and forward looking ICT industry. Our host has also continuously provided financial and expert contribution to projects that we are implementing across the globe. This of course includes the technical know-how provided by Japanese experts participating in the various Study Groups of the three Sectors.
Now, I would like to welcome all the Ministers, Director Generals, VIPs, speakers and delegates from ITU Members who are here with us and who will share their vision, expertise and ideas.
Just over one month ago, the United Nations, at the UN Sustainable Development Summit, adopted the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
In the Summit outcome document, the international community recognized the important role of ICTs by highlighting that (and here I quote), "The spread of information and communications technology and global interconnectedness has great potential to accelerate human progress, to bridge the digital divide and to develop knowledge societies.
ICTs will be crucial for achieving the SDGs. In my opinion, no development debate can be credible without considering the role of ICTs.
One example is climate change, a pressing global challenge that we are facing. As I speak, the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference (or, COP 21) is about to begin, to discuss a universal agreement on climate. ICTs are helping to monitor climate change, to mitigate and to adapt to its effects.
Let me also emphasize that there is increased recognition of the importance of data-driven policy making. The new sustainable development agenda includes 17 goals and 169 targets. It clearly states that more timely and reliable data are needed.
Distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen
This week's WTIS will address some of these challenges, highlight opportunities, and provide guidance. At the same time, it will also show that our work is far from done. Still today, more than half the world's population is not using the Internet.
Furthermore, some of the new technologies and trends, for example in the area of big data and Internet of Things, are actually opening the door for new divides and bigger challenges. To remain relevant, and inform policy makers worldwide, ITU must continuously review its indicators. We recognize that this work cannot be done without you, and without WTIS.
At this point, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the Ministers, Director Generals, VIPs, Speakers, and delegates from ITU Members who are here with us and who will share their vision, expertise and ideas.
Indeed, there is great demand for ITU's statistics and your work is crucial and relevant to other ongoing debates in the area of ICT for development. I have met and discussed with many Member States that appreciate the value of our statistics. I encourage you to continue to contribute to our work leading to the production of these highly reputable indicators in order for us to continue to make our statistics more powerful and more popular.
In two weeks, the United Nations General Assembly will meet in New York for the High-level meeting on the WSIS+10 Review. At that meeting, the international community will review the progress made in the implementation of the WSIS outcomes and agree on the way forward. An essential element to this is data gathering and dissemination, to be able to monitor progress and provide policy makers with sound evidence.
Distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen
2015 is a special year for ITU because we are celebrating the Union's 150th anniversary. WTIS-15 is actually the last major ITU event of the year marking the celebration of this important anniversary. I know that our host has planned a special event for us tonight - the 150th Memorial Soirée.
Anniversaries allow us to reflect upon the past and look forward to the future. I believe that over 150 years, ITU has managed to deal with an incredibly fast pace of change. It has adapted to, and taken advantage of, rapidly evolving technologies and industries.
We have had to modernize, innovate and re-invent ourselves to remain relevant. The support and the diversity of our membership, including from the private sector, has made this possible.
To fully exploit the potential of innovation and to adapt to the new reality of the ICT ecosystem, more importance will have to be given to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). SMEs represent a growing and increasingly important part of the economy. They are important drivers of progress and development. I am pleased to see that the WTIS includes a number of special sessions to learn from the Japanese private sector.
For the future, we will continue to learn, to adapt, and to innovate. What better place to start to do so than Japan, a country that, besides its hospitality, is a world leader in ICTs and innovation.
I look forward to the debates this week, to learn about how far we have come and how much more there remains to be done.