The highest decision-making body of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) opened today (26 September) with delegates from around the world pursuing digital cooperation and transformation for the good of all.
ITU’s 21st Plenipotentiary Conference, known as “PP-22″, features elections for the organization’s top management posts – Secretary-General, Deputy Secretary-General, and Directors for Radiocommunication, Telecommunication Standardization, and Telecommunication Development – along with the 12-seat Radio Regulations Board and 48-seat ITU Council.
According to ITU, digital networks and technologies have empowered billions of people worldwide, facilitating business, education, government services, trade, and social interactions through the toughest phases of Covid-19. Yet Internet uptake has slowed over the past year, leaving 2.7 billion people – or one-third of the world’s population – unconnected.
“We are in the middle of a digital revolution that enables and provides the means for the development of new industries and converged services, such as smart vehicles, healthcare, smart cities, and homes,” said Romania’s Vice Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu in his opening speech to PP-22.
“At this turning point in technological development, we must not forget our essential duty to respect the human being,” he added, stressing the need “to protect the freedom and prosperity of future generations, in whose lives the technologies we see today as emerging will play a determining role.”
ITU is the United Nations specialized agency for information and communications technologies (ICTs). As the conference opened Monday morning in the Romanian capital, ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao said efforts must be expanded to make technology accessible and affordable to everyone, everywhere.
Delegates at the quadrennial conference include government ministers and officials, representatives from national, regional, and international bodies, academic institutions, and the private sector – companies dealing with telecommunications and the Internet – reflecting an aspect of ITU’s membership mix that is unique in the UN system.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres highlighted “the opportunity to form common positions that will shape global digital transformation for years to come” and urged delegates to “seize the opportunities of digital technology while protecting against its risks.”
In a pre-recorded video message, he called on the high-level audience from government and industry “to put humanity’s progress at the centre of your discussions” over the next three weeks.
The Plenipotentiary Conference, held every four years, enables nations and governments to reach coordinated decisions on the advancement of vital technologies.
PP-22 provides a crucial forum for governments spanning every world region to build consensus on the radio and satellite harmonization, telecom standardization, and digital development.
The election for ITU’s next secretary-general is set to open during the morning of Thursday, 29 September. Elections for ITU’s senior management team will follow.
After all elections are concluded, an expected 2,500 delegates from ITU’s 193 Member States will decide on the organization’s strategic and financial plans, as well as set out its roadmap for connecting the world over the coming four-year period.
PP-22 takes place between 26 September and 14 October at Bucharest’s Palace of Parliament.