Global Tech Policy-makers Meet to Seek Common Ground on Digital Future

Global Tech Policy-makers Meet to Seek Common Ground on Digital Future

Emma Okonji

The highest decision-making body of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), converged this week in Bucharest, Romania, with delegates from around the world pursuing digital cooperation and transformation for the good of all. 

The ITU’s 21st Plenipotentiary Conference, known as ‘PP-22’, will feature elections for the organisation’s top management posts, such as 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. 

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.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the PP-22 conference, Romania’s Vice Prime Minister, Sorin Grindeanu, said:  “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. “At this turning point in technological development, we must not forget our essential duty to respect the human being.”

He stressed 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 Secretary-General, Houlin Zhao said efforts must be expanded to make technology accessible and affordable to everyone, everywhere. 

“Equitable access to ICTs is not just a moral responsibility, it is essential for global prosperity and sustainability,” said Zhao, who has led the organisation for the past eight years.

“The decisions made in Bucharest will determine our direction and priorities in line with the evolving needs of ITU’s diverse and growing global membership, helping shape the future of the information society in both developed and developing countries,” Zhao further said.  

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 their discussions over the next three weeks that the PP-22 conference will last.  

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 harmonisation, telecom standardisation, and digital development. 

The election for ITU’s next secretary-general begins today September 29, followed by elections for ITU’s senior management team, during the three weeks conference.   

After all elections are concluded, an expected 2,500 delegates from ITU’s 193 Member States will decide on the organisation’s strategic and financial plans, as well as set out its roadmap for connecting the world over the coming four-year period. 

PP-22 Chair-designate and Head of Romania’s parliamentary Information Technology and Communications Commission,Sabin Sărmaș, said: “In a world increasingly dependent on technology, ITU’s Plenipotentiary Conference is an opportunity to address crucial topics that will shape our digital future for generations to come.

 “Our primary goal to improve people’s lives, can only be achieved by adopting a shared policy blueprint reflecting green, gender, and youth inclusion priorities.This is what I, along with the government of Romania, will stand for during PP-22.” 

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