ITU’s Plenipotentiary is the quadrennial global conference that decides strategy for ITU, the UN agency for ICTs responsible for allocating global radio spectrum, creating the technical standards that fuel all ICT networks, and developing and implementing strategies to bridge the ‘digital divide’.
Topics such as cybersecurity, Internet addressing, the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs), broadband access and ICTs and climate change will be high on the conference agenda.
Dr Tour urged delegates to “imagine, to innovate, and to create a bright, long-term future for the ICT sector.”
“I cannot over-emphasize the importance of the work we will undertake here in Guadalajara,” he said. “We are here to shape the future. Not just the future of the ITU, but the future of the ICT sector − which now influences every other business sector worldwide, and which now reaches into the lives of almost everyone on the planet. And the future − to quote the great Mahatma Gandhi − depends on what we do in the present.”
The event, which is taking place at the Guadalajara Expo centre from 4-22 October, is hosted by Mexico’s Ministry of Communications and Transport. It will welcome around 2,000 participants from some 190 ITU Member States, Sector Members and observer organizations, including over 80 Ministers, 40 Deputy Ministers, and 40 ambassadors.
Over the course of the three-week event, participants will endeavour to get to grips with the pressing issues shaping both the future of the Union, and the industry which it serves. The conference is chaired by Mr Fernando Borjn Figueroa, Technological Development Coordinator with the Mexican Ministry of Communications and Transport.
Addressing participants at the opening ceremony, Mexican President Felipe Caldern Hinojosa said: “Telecommunication is an indispensable tool to achieve justice and equality…ICTs are the basis on which we can build a more equal Mexico.” He went on to outline his government’s strategies and programmes to bridge the digital divide and ensure that “those who have the least have access to telecommunications.”
President Caldern also announced the issuing of a special first day cover commemorative stamp, which he personally franked as part of the ceremony.
Participants were also addressed by Mr Juan Francisco Molinar Horcasitas, Minister of Communications and Transport, and Mr Emilio Gonzlez Mrquez, Governor of the State of Jalisco. Dignatories were joined on the podium by Mr Jorge Aristteles Sandoval Daz, Mayor of Guadalajara, Ambassador Patricia Espinosa Cantellano, Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and ITU’s four other elected officials: Mr Houlin Zhao, ITU Deputy Secretary-General; Mr Valery Timofeev, Director of ITU’s Radiocommunication Bureau; Mr Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau; and Mr Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau.
In his speech to PP-10 participants, Mr Gonzlez said: “The government of Jalisco is working to develop our electronics industry and foster new technologies, because we are convinced that telecommunications is the most important tool in reducing the economic gap in developing nations.”
Mr Molinar went on to talk of the importance of promoting the efficient use of telecommunications and ICTs. “Currently, they are the international policy tool that offers the greatest social benefits. It is through them that the modern world can create and spread culture, education, health and well-being,” he said.
ITU Deputy Secretary-General Mr Zhao also delivered a special message to the PP-10 conference from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who told delegates: “Your work in developing the next generation of communications networks, ensuring cybersecurity, and putting the power of ICT networks to good use in disaster relief and mitigation is vitally important to us all… I look forward to strengthening our partnership, and I wish you the very best in your efforts to realize the great potential of ICTs to generate social and economic progress for all.”
Agenda of the Conference
Held every four years, ITU’s Plenipotentiary Conference sets the strategic direction of the organization and proposes new policies and recommendations that reflect the changing needs of the its membership. Named as the UN specialized agency for information and communication technologies (ICTs) in 1949, ITU is unique in having a membership that comprises not just 192 Member States, but a list of over 700 members from the private sector that reads like a Who’s Who of the ICT industry.
Decisions taken over the coming weeks will touch on a wide range of key areas, ranging from cybersecurity; strategies to help advance ITU’s goal of ‘broadband inclusion for all’; new Internet addressing systems such as IPv6; the scope of the forthcoming review of the International Telecommunication Regulations, and the possible procedure for that review; and the enhanced use of ICTs in mitigating climate change and delivering emergency communication in the wake of natural disasters.
The conference will also determine ITU’s Strategic Plan for 2012-2015, and elect the five officials who will lead the organization for the next four-year term. In addition, delegates will be called upon to approve the Financial Plan 2012-2015, which will provide the resources needed to meet the goals and deliverables specified by the Strategic Plan. The level of Contributory Unit will remain fixed at CHF 318,000, representing the zero nominal growth voted by Members at the last ITU Plenipotentiary, which was held in Antalya, Turkey in November 2006.
The election of the Union’s five top executives, along with the members of the Radio Regulations Board and the Member States which will comprise ITU Council for the four-year period until the next Plenipotentiary, will take place from Thursday 7 October, beginning with the election of the Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary-General, and then the Directors of the three specialized arms of the Union: the Radiocommunication Bureau, the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau and the Telecommunication Development Bureau. There are 21 candidates for the 12 seats on the Radio Regulations Board, and 65 candidate countries for seats on ITU Council.
The number of Council seats is likely to increase at this conference, as there are several proposals on the table from ITU Member States. The accession of Timor Leste as a new ITU Member in August 2010 has brought the total number of ITU Member States to 192.
For a full list of candidates, see candidates here