At the start of the annual ITU Council in Geneva, Switzerland today, outgoing Council Chair Eva Spina of Italy welcomed incoming Chair Rashid Ismailov of Russia to take the reins of the member-led governing body that ensures that ITU’s activities, policies and strategies fully respond to today’s rapidly changing telecommunications environment.
Mr. Ismailov began by thanking Ms. Spina for her leadership, welcoming the rest of those attending Council 2018 from 17-27 April and underscoring the importance of their work.
“I hope we are strong and patient and that our meeting takes place in the spirit of consensus and friendship and mutual respect,” said Mr. Ismailov.
At the opening of Council 2018, ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao presented a State of the Union address, during which he outlined some of the key roles ITU plays — and the increasing importance of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in today’s digital economy.
A pivotal time
“This is a pivotal time,” said Mr. Zhao, as he highlighted the key role of ICTs in accelerating progress on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “As I argued in my speech here last year, the world needs the SDGs and the SDGs need ICTs. I am confident that your contributions will pave the way for successful outcomes at this Council … and ensure that the activities of our Union continue to deliver maximum value to our membership.”
“I hope we are strong and patient and that our meeting takes place in the spirit of consensus and friendship and mutual respect.” – Rashid Ismailov, ITU Council 2018 Chair
In line with Council’s role to ensure that ITU’s activities fully respond to today’s rapidly changing telecommunications environment, Mr. Zhao also called for ITU leadership on the latest ICT trends.
“Artificial intelligence, 5G, cloud computing, the Internet of Things and other emerging technologies are opening new frontiers and also new possibilities,” said Mr. Zhao. “Our work on 5G is a perfect example of what ITU is doing across its Sectors to develop the networks and services that will support innovative solutions to power the digital economy and bring sustainable social and economic benefits to all the world’s citizens.”
The importance of cooperation
Mr. Zhao also highlighted increased cooperation with a range of stakeholders, including several other UN bodies working to integrate ICT-based solutions to help achieve the SDGs.
“I am grateful to our membership for your trust and support, to our partners for your confidence and cooperation, and to ITU’s staff and management team for your hard work and commitment to the mission of our Union,” he said.
He ended his comments with a call to action for the members: “Let us work together to build a stronger, more open and more efficient ITU – a union that will continue to have a profound and positive impact on the lives of people across the world.”
Watch the full interview with Rashid Ismailov, ITU Council Chair 2018.