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Global Digital Transformation to Achieve UN Sustainable Development Goals

ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. Photo: ITU

ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. Photo: ITU

A meeting of the highest decision-making body of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) closed on October 14 with Member States reaching consensus on actions to ensure that digital technology reaches and benefits people across the world.

The Plenipotentiary Conference of the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies (ICTs) concluded its work in Bucharest, Romania, with agreements on how to harness the advantages of some of the world’s most promising technologies.

The meeting also adopted ITU’s strategic and budget plans for 2024-2027. ITU’s four-year strategy highlights key priorities for radiocommunication, standardization and development work aimed at connecting the world, driving an inclusive global digital transformation, and helping achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030.

ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao, in his last conference at the helm of the organization, said he had “witnessed first-hand how ICT innovations have changed the world – and how important ITU has been in advancing this digital transformation.”

Reflecting on his 36 years at the organization, including nearly two-and-a-half decades as an elected official, Zhao said: “We need to seize this moment and build on the decisions taken at this global conference to accelerate digital transformation, including for the 2.7 billion people worldwide who are still unconnected.”

According to ITU, digital networks and technologies have empowered billions of people worldwide. Yet after a surge due to Covid-19, Internet uptake has slowed over the past year, leaving one-third of the world’s population still unconnected.

The conference between 26 September and 14 October brought together over 3,000 delegates, including government ministers or officials from 183 of ITU’s 193 Member States, as well as international and regional organizations, academia, and private-sector representatives.

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