High Level Ministerial Forum

Opening Remarks by Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secretary-General of the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development

Delivered by Mr. Thomas Stelzer, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Co-ordiantion & Inter-Agency Affairs

Honorable Samuel Poghisio, Minister of Information and Communications, Republic of Kenya,
Dr. Hamadoun Touré, Secretary General, International Telecommunications Union,
Distinguished Ministers,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Colleagues and friends,

It is my pleasure to again deliver remarks on behalf of the Under-Secretary-General Sha Zukang. I quote:

I would like to thank our hosts, the Government of Kenya and the International Telecommunication Union for organizing this meeting. It is a pleasure to be here with you this morning.

While this high-level session is not a formal pre-meeting to the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), which begins tomorrow, I hope that we can take what we learn from each other today into the IGF and share with other stakeholders during remainder of the week.

I would like to commend Minister Poghisio and Permanent Secretary Dr. Bitange Ndemo for Kenya’s adoption of the open policy processes and multi-stakeholder influence in information communications technology policies since 2004. Most recently the Kenyan Government launched a national open data initiative. This is an important initiative that will provide lessons for developing and developed countries.

Distinguished colleagues, the need to continue to develop and maintain an open and multi-stakeholder dialogue around the issues of Internet governance is crucial to foster the benefits of the Internet for all. The rapid growth of the Internet and its impact on social, cultural, political and economic aspects of society has far-reaching implications for development, both within and between countries.

Through the IGF we have a great opportunity to consider the developmental dimensions of Internet governance and ICTs. The Internet is rapidly changing the course of everyday life. We see this here in Kenya where, for example, advanced mobile banking applications have for the first time brought access to financial services to a large segment of the population.

At this high level ministerial forum we note the dramatic advances in access through mobile Internet and the resulting potential for development through innovation and entrepreneurship.  In this regard, we look forward to ideas on how ICT tools can be harnessed to advance sustainable development.  Next June in Rio the United Nations will convene a summit level conference on sustainable development, also known as Rio+20.  This conference in Rio will focus on two themes: (a) a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; and (b) the institutional framework for sustainable development. The spread of ICTs offer opportunities to shape the debate on these two themes.

Although this meeting affords us an important opportunity to look at some of the issues of Internet governance, the meeting also gives DESA and the United Nations an opportunity to respond and address the broader issues we face.

As you may recall DESA has overall responsibility for promoting cooperation among all stakeholders in Internet-related public policy issues, and is one of the major UN participants in World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) follow-up – along with ITU, UNESCO and UNDP. In particular, DESA has been assigned responsibility for supporting implementation of WSIS Action Lines C1 (on the role of public governance authorities and all stakeholders in the promotion of ICTs for development), C7 (on e-government) and C11 (on international and regional cooperation).

In closing, I encourage you to be forward thinking, yet also to draw on your rich past experiences in an effort to consider the questions our hosts have put before us today. We have an ambitious agenda and I hope you will consider the connection between the issues of ICTs, Internet governance and sustainable development.


The tasks at hand requires diligence and persistence; let us today continue our work to ensure that ICTs and the Internet can be a catalyst for change: access, development, freedoms and innovation. End of quote.

Thank you.