ITU’s 19th ITU Plenipotentiary Conference opened its doors to over 3,000 delegates and almost 600 local and international media in Busan. Korea.
The event is the world’s largest meeting of international policy makers from the information and communication (ICT) sector.
Known informally as PP-14, this year’s conference welcomes participants from some 175 ITU Member States, Sector Members and observer organisations, including over 104 Ministers, 35 Deputy Ministers, and 67 ambassadors.
It is held every four years to set the strategic direction of ITU and to develop policies and recommendations that address the evolving needs of the Union’s members.
Issues on this year’s agenda include digital inclusion and broadband rollout, broader international cooperation on ICT development, and new strategies to encourage membership and strengthen multi-stakeholder participation. For the first time, the conference will also try to reach international agreement on establishment of new global ICT development goals and targets under a new framework called ‘Connect 2020’.
Speaking to delegates, ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun I. Touré noted that since he took office in January 2007 the number of mobile cellular subscriptions worldwide has more than doubled, from 2.7 billion to 6.9 billion. During the same period, the number of Internet users has grown from 1.2 billion to an estimated 2.9 billion.
“This is not just a story of connectivity for connectivity’s sake – it is a story of real human progress,” said Dr Touré, reminding delegates of the need to take bold decisions that will help connect the billions who still remain offline.
One of the principal tasks of PP-14 will be to determine ITU’s Strategic Plan for 2016-2020 and the Financial Plan for the same period, which will provide the resources needed to meet the goals and deliverables mandated by members.
During the event, the conference will elect the Union’s five top executives: the Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary-General, and the Directors of the Radiocommunication, Telecommunication Standardisation and Telecommunication Development Bureau – as well as other governing bodies of the Union, the ITU Council and Radio Regulations Board. The elections begin on the morning of 23 October.