ITU Plenipotentiary Conference 2018 – 18 main decisions

Member States elect new ITU leadership team, approve four-year Strategic and Financial Plan, and provide guidance to the Union on harnessing new technologies as a source for good while safeguarding people against their risks

TU’s 20th Plenipotentiary Conference (PP-18) officially ended today with Member States reaffirming their commitment to the common vision of a connected world, where information and communication technology (ICT) is a source for good for everyone, everywhere – and to the crucial mandate of the Union to realize this vision.

Main PP-18 decisions

Harnessing new technologies as a source for good

Sustainable Development Goals – ITU Member States approved the Union’s Strategic and Financial Plan which sets the targets for 2020-2023, asserting ITU’s role in facilitating progress towards the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals through ICTs. These targets are divided into five strategic goals: growth; inclusiveness; sustainability; innovation; and partnership.

Innovation – ITU Member States also passed a new resolution to promote an enabling environment for telecommunication/ICT-centric innovation by small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), start-ups, incubation centres and young entrepreneurs. SMEs are a source of new ideas and innovation, and often account for a significant proportion of the economy in developing countries. ITU Member States, therefore, also resolved to introduce reduced membership fees for them and to foster their participation within the context of ITU Telecom World.

Over-the-top services (OTTs) – The evolution of the telecommunication/ICT sector has led to new market structures, business models, investment strategies and revenue streams. OTTs, services that run “over-the-top” of existing telecommunications infrastructure, have played an increasing role. A new resolution recognizes the positive roles of OTTs in fostering socioeconomic benefits and that mutual cooperation between OTTs and telecommunication operators can be an element to foster innovative, sustainable, viable business models.

Internet of Things – ITU Member States resolved to promote investment in the development of the Internet of Things (IoT), and smart sustainable cities and communities to support the Sustainable Development Goals. IoT refers to the network of computing devices with built-in smart sensors and software – enabling billions of devices and objects to connect with each other, collect real-time information and send this data, via wireless communication, to centralized control systems. These, in turn, manage traffic, reduce energy usage and improve a wide range of urban operations and services.

For everyone, everywhere

Future networks for developing countries – ITU Member States resolved to continue ITU’s work relating to the deployment of future ICT networks in developing countries. Future networks such as 5G are set to play a pivotal role in the digital economy. They will support applications such as smart homes and buildings, smart cities, 3D video, work and play in the cloud, remote medical surgery, virtual and augmented reality, and massive machine-to-machine communications for industry automation and self-driving cars.

Bridging the ‘standardization gap’  ITU Member States resolved to promote the increased participation of developing countries in ITU’s standardization process so they can develop their digital economy faster. International standards, developed rapidly in line with the principles of global connectivity, openness, affordability, reliability, interoperability and security, are critical for generating confidence for investments in ICTs. International standards can be used to develop national standards which can help introduce or switch to new technologies in a timely manner.

Gender equality – ITU Member States resolved to strengthen efforts to make progress on gender equality within ITU and in the ICT sector, e.g. by reviewing their respective policies and practices to ensure that recruitment, employment, training and advancement of women and men in the ICT sector are undertaken on a fair and equitable basis.

Accessibility – ITU has been instructed to share best practices implemented in favour of accessibility to telecommunications/ICTs for people with disabilities and people with specific needs and to promote the collection and analysis of statistical data on disabilities and accessibility that Member States can consider when preparing and designing their own public policies to promote accessibility.

Safeguarding people against the risks from ICT misuse

Child online protection – Billions of children now use connected mobile devices, and they are coming online at younger ages. While this opens new opportunities for innovative education, it also brings a variety of risks, ranging from cyberbullying to exposure to inappropriate and harmful content. ITU Member States resolved for ITU’s Child Online Protection (COP) Initiative to work with Member States and partners to disseminate methodological frameworks for data production and statistics with the purpose of maximizing data comparison among countries.

Cybersecurity – ITU Member States have resolved to strengthen the role of ITU in building confidence and security in the use of ICTs, such as by promoting a culture in which security is seen as a continuous and iterative process and by supporting the standard-setting activities of ITU. The number, severity and diversity of cyber-threats and -attacks have increased. They can compromise the availability, integrity and confidentiality of critical information and infrastructure. They can impact countries’ economic and social development.

The 20th Plenipotentiary Conference, held in Dubai from 29 October to 16 November 2018, closed with the signing of the Final Acts. The Conference, hosted by the United Arab Emirates, attracted more than 2300 participants from 180 countries, up from 171 countries in 2014.

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