The quadrennial World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-17) kicked off Monday in Buenos Aires, Argentina with an opening ceremony full of inspirational messages on how to better leverage information and communication technologies (ICTs) to more quickly achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
This included a message from His Holiness Pope Francis who expressed his “ardent desire” that the discussions at WTDC-17 would explore ways in which ICTs can help to “promote the dignity of every person, especially in the poorest and most marginalized sectors of society.”
ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao echoed the sentiment.
“The theme of WTDC-17 – ICT for Sustainable Development Goals – is very timely because now more than ever, we need ICTs to drive development and accelerate the achievement of the SDGs’ vision to leave no one behind,” said Mr. Zhao.
Indeed, WTDC-17 – which takes place from 9-20 October – represents a unique opportunity for the international community to gather together and discuss the future of the ICT sector and its contribution to the achievement of the SDGs.
“Our role is a very noble one. Let’s all seize this historic moment.” — Brahima Sanou, Director of BDT
Expected outcomes of WTDC-17 include the Buenos Aires Declaration and the Buenos Aires Action Plan, which will set the priorities and programme of the ITU Telecommunication Development Sector (ITU-D) over the next four years. The provisional final report of WTDC-17 will be issued on 20 October.
“I’m sure that you are as enthusiastic and as excited as I am by this conference and the enormous possibilities that it offers our sector,” said Brahima Sanou, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT). “Our role is a very noble one. It is about our collective contribution towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Let’s all seize this historic moment.”
In addition to setting the agenda for the next four years, WTDC-17 also includes a High-Level Segment on 9-10 October, during which high-ranking officials from Member States, including ministers and deputy ministers will share their views on emerging trends and on matters of strategic importance to the development of the ICT sector.
WTDC-17 also includes a series of side events on key issues such as: how ICTs can speed development for least-developed countries, digital skills for youth employment, how to foster innovation that will drive the digital economy, emergency telecommunications, e-health, and more. All the side events are webcast.
The pre-events and side events have already proven rich with information, including best practices for how the public and private sectors can come together to provide more affordable, safer, and better ICTs, especially in emerging and frontier markets worldwide.
On Wednesday 11 October, ITU-D will celebrate its 25th anniversary which will include two Ministerial Roundtables on ICT④SDGs and the digital economy with inspiring and visionary speakers.
Several speakers at the Opening Ceremony made reference to the establishment of ITU-D in 1992, right here in Buenos Aires. And many participants in the audience raised their hands when asked if they were in attendance back then.
It was a testament to the enduring and important work of ITU-D.
Fitting then for Argentina’s Chief of Cabinet of Ministers, Marcos Peña, to express the feeling in the hall full of participants from across the world.
“We stand firmly convinced that to have a better world is to have a connected world, and this revolution and transformation of humanity can be found through telecommunications, and it should reach all people in the planet…, said Mr. Peña, “We think that more additional inclusion and more access and more communication for all will lead to freedom, more democracy, and more transparency – and this will build a better world for all.”