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June 24, 2014

ITU leverages Social Networks to develop future strategy

By Fernando Rivera and Vaggelis Igglesis

As a testimony to ITU’s strong commitment to openness and transparency, from June 2013 to May 2014 ITU has engaged in an innovative consultation process to gather views from all stakeholders at every stage in the process of the elaboration of its new Strategic Plan. This is the first time that a UN agency has involved the public in the development of its future strategy and has leveraged social networks for doing so.

The process was started by the ITU Council in June 2013, with the establishment of a working group for the elaboration of the strategic and financial plans for 2016-2019. To support the work of this group, ITU management appointed an inter-sectoral task force of the secretariat to work on the proposed framework. Internal strategy workshops and staff consultations were carried out, identifying views and ideas to shape the strategy of the Union beyond 2015.

The consultations began with an informal public consultation launched by the Secretary-General, Dr Hamadoun Touré, via an innovative crowdsourcing platform, asking all stakeholders, including membership and the general public for their views and ideas on what is expected from ITU in the future, where ITU should direct its efforts to best serve the interests of all stakeholders, and which challenges ITU should be prepared to meet. The answer to this call has surpassed all expectations and the valuable results were reflected in the input from the inter-sectoral task force to the work of the Council working group.

The working group embraced this open and transparent approach by holding its own public consultation on the strategic framework developed based on contributions by membership and the ITU Sector Advisory Groups, in addition to the above-mentioned inputs by the task force. This open consultation was a great opportunity for all voices to be heard, and be considered in the discussions to carry out the next phase in the elaboration of ITU’s strategy: the drafting of the ITU 2016-2019 Strategic Plan. Building on the positive feedback and valuable inputs the council working group conducted a second public consultation on the proposed draft text of the strategic plan, which had been developed in the meantime to be presented to the ITU Council in May 2014.

In total, forty-three contributions were received. The success of this transparent process is proved by considering the variety and relevance of public inputs. Entities which have, together with a number of individuals, actively contributed in shaping the post-2015 ITU strategy include vendors of telecommunication/ICT equipment (including Huawei Technologies and Nokia Solutions and Networks), telecom operators (including ICE from Costa Rica, Saudi Telecom Company, and Azerfon from Azerbaijan), international, regional and national associations and organizations (including ICANN, IEEE Standards Association, the Asia Pacific Telecommunity, BITKOM and DENIC from Germany, LIRNEasia, SAMENA, the International Association for the Advancement of Innovative Approaches to Global Challenges and the Association for Progressive Communications), civil society (including Telecentre.org foundation, Education Without Borders from Sudan, Women and Information Society NGO from Armenia), other private sector organizations (including Luqcom Informatics from Nigeria and International Microwaves Telecom Solutions from France), telecommunication/ICT regulators (including the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Bahrain), as well as administrations (including ministries from UK, New Zealand, Finland and Poland).

Every suggestion was considered by the working group alongside the formal contributions from the ITU membership. The key findings of the process and the overall suggestions were incorporated into the proposed strategic framework. These included calls for ITU to strengthen the focus of its efforts, to align its goals with the global sustainable development agenda, to ensure relevance in the changing environment, to work as One ITU, to be people-centered, to engage in enhanced cooperation around ICT issues, and to embrace multi-stakeholder processes. Particular emphasis was given to the requested need for ITU to be inclusive and address gaps related to ICTs, including marginalized gender groups, people with disabilities, youth, rural communities and least developed countries, and to highlight the importance of broadband as a key enabler for sustainable socio-economic development. Stakeholders affirmed that the unique value of ITU lies in the global management of the radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbits, in the standardization work and in the international cooperation in the development of telecommunication/ICT networks in developing countries; these key elements have been properly reflected in the proposed strategy.

Accordingly, the strategic plan was endorsed by the ITU Council in May 2014 and is to be adopted by the ITU Member States in the Plenipotentiary Conference in Busan, Korea, in October 2014, reflecting the needs, views and opinions of multiple stakeholders. In fact, they are at the heart of the ITU vision, mission, values, strategic goals and targets, as well as ITU Sector and inter-sectoral objectives. Indeed, ITU has become a pioneer in the UN system in openly and publicly consulting on the elaboration of its future strategy. As a result, the achievement of the strategic goals and targets, demonstrating ITU’s impact in connecting the world, would consist of a joint vision shared by each and every stakeholder.

Fernando Rivera a Physicist & Civil Engineer, with postgraduate studies on telecommunications, particle physics and management, Fernando moved 12  years ago to the UN environment from basic research in particle Physics at CERN.  He currently works for ITU as Coordinator of Corporate Strategic Planning.
Vaggelis Igglesis is a computer & IT engineer, with a postgraduate diploma in communication networks and an MBA degree. He has a diverse professional background spanning academia, business and international organizations and he currently works as a Strategy and Policy Officer at the Corporate Strategy Division of the ITU.
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ITU leverages Social Networks to develop future strategy

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