150 years of innovating together

150-blog-slideThe thematic calendar commences in February with the theme ‘youth and innovation’.

There’s a lot to look forward to in 2015 as we celebrate an incredible landmark: ITU’s 150th anniversary. Since 1865, ITU has connected the world to the most advanced and innovative means of communication – from the days of the telegraph to the telephone, television, Internet and mobile broadband, which now allows us to be in touch anytime, anywhere with friends, family, colleagues and even things.

In January, I took the office of Secretary-General along with ITU’s newly elected and re-elected officials – Malcolm Johnson, Deputy Secretary-General; Francois Rancy, Director of the ITU Radiocommunication Bureau; Brahima Sanou, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau; and Chaesub Lee, Director of the ITU Standardization Bureau. Although we face significant challenges as we move forward with a new four-year mandate, including connecting the unconnected, encouraging investments and helping to develop a more sustainable business environment for the ICT industry, we are also presented with incredible opportunities as both ITU and the ICT market expands and diversifies.

For a century and a half, our membership – comprising of 193 Member States and over 700 private sector members – has met the needs of the constantly evolving ICT sector. We continually prove our resilience and relevance, adapting to the changing market demands as the United Nations specialized agency for state-of-the-art telecommunications and information and communication technologies (ICT). Along with ITU’s diverse membership, we look forward to addressing the challenges and opportunities future innovations will bring to this technology and to ITU.

To commemorate our historic anniversary, we have planned a year of celebrations, both at ITU headquarters in Geneva and around the world, highlighting ICTs as ‘Drivers of Innovation’.  Around the world, ITU Membership, 150th partners and Non-ITU Members are planning events to coincide with ITU’s celebrations; activities marking the anniversary include exhibitions, publications and special commemorative stamps, which will not only help engage members but highlight the global impact of ITU’s work.

ITU will host a number of special events throughout the year. The largest event will be held on 17 May, World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD), which commemorates the establishment of ITU.  A full day of activities is planned, including an Awards Ceremony and a multimedia smart show, marking the climax of the 150th anniversary celebrations. We invite you to join us in Geneva to celebrate this momentous occasion or plan your own special commemorative event.

Other important events in the ITU calendar include the 2015 session of ITU Council, held in Geneva from 12-22 May. ITU’s governing Council will ensure that the decisions taken at the 2014 Plenipotentiary Conference are implemented, guaranteeing the smooth day to day running of the Union. 2015 also marks the tenth anniversary of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum, held in Geneva from 25-29 May. This year’s Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR), hosted in Libreville, Gabon from 9-11 June, with the theme ‘Mind the Digital Gap – Regulatory Incentives to achieve digital opportunities’. ITU Telecom World, a global platform for high-level debate, networking, innovation-showcasing and knowledge-sharing across the ICT community, will be in Budapest, Hungary from 12-15 October. The first challenge for the Telecom Young Innovators Competition will be launched in mid-February. The Radiocommunication Assembly which is responsible for the structure, programme and approval of radiocommunication studies, will convene in Geneva from 26-30 October. The ITU World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC), which will be held 2 -27 November, is one of the most important events on the ITU calendar and a key contributor to enabling innovation in ICTs.

December marks the end of the year of anniversary celebrations and we plan to place a special emphasis on broadband and the important outcomes of WRC and how they enable innovation in ICTs. The World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Symposium (WTIS) that will take place in December will review the level of ICT development worldwide, and the progress made during the year.

Around the world, ITU Membership, 150th partners and Non-ITU Members are planning events to coincide with ITU’s celebrations. I encourage ITU’s Membership to associate their 150th anniversary activities to highlight the theme: ‘Telecommunications/ICTs: Drivers of Innovation’ and join us in our year of innovating together. Please see the website for further details: www.itu.int/en/150/Pages/default.aspx. If you would like to join us as a partner, please contact itu150@itu.int

houlin-zhaoBy Houlin Zhao
Houlin Zhao was elected as Secretary General of the ITU at the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference 2014 in Busan, Republic of Korea, and took office on 1 January 2015. Mr. Zhao was elected ITU Deputy Secretary-General at the Plenipotentiary Conference in Antalya, Turkey, in November 2006 and re-elected for a second four-year term in Guadalajara, Mexico, in October 2010. From 1999 to 2006, he served as Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB) with his first election at PP-98 in Minneapolis, USA and again at PP-02 in Marrakesh, Morocco. From 1986-1998, he worked at ITU headquarters, as an Engineer/Councellor. Mr Zhao graduated from Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications, and holds an MSc in Telematics from the University of Essex in the UK.

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