ITU Plenipotentiary Conference (PP-22) in Bucharest, Romania

Member States strengthen ITU budget by CHF 3.9 million

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has emerged from its latest Plenipotentiary conference with a budget boost worth CHF 3.9 million per year, or nearly USD 3.9 million per year at current exchange rates.

New pledges from contributing countries both large and small will strengthen ITU’s budget, help maintain key radiocommunication, telecom standardization and digital development activities, and ensure the organization can meet the goals outlined in its latest four-year strategic plan.

During the recent ITU Plenipotentiary Conference (PP-22) in Bucharest, Romania, four countries announced they would raise their annual budget contributions to the UN specialized agency for next year and beyond.

Delegates from the United States, Brazil, Guinea, and Papua New Guinea each announced increases during national policy statements in the first week of the conference.

Financial commitments are denominated in Swiss francs (CHF) and expressed in annual contributory units. These units, each worth CHF 318,000 serve as the basic fee payable each year for a Member State to maintain voting rights and participate fully in ITU conferences.

Developing countries may pay half-unit contributions, with lower amounts for the least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, and small island developing states.

United States: Top contributor, up by nearly 17 per cent

US delegate Don Graves pointed out several key goals for the international community, namely: “to achieve universal affordable connectivity; to close digital divides, including the gender digital divide; to equip people with digital skills; [and] to promote a secure and resilient digital environment.”

With these aims in mind, the United States will increase its contribution by CHF 1.59 million per year – or from 30 units to 35 units – starting with next year’s budget, Graves announced in the US policy statement.

This makes the US the largest single contributor to ITU for the coming period.

Brazil: More than tripling

South America’s largest country pledged to increase its support from three units to eleven, or from CHF 954,000 to CHF 3.5 million each year. The added funds are meant to strengthen the agency and its projects, help overcome challenges, and “reinforce Brazil’s commitment to ITU,” national delegate Carlos Manuel Baigorri said in Brazil’s policy statement.

The increase places the country among ITU’s top contributors, alongside 14 others committed to providing 10 or more contributory units.

The pledge increase reflects confidence “that advances could be achieved in critical contemporary topics as cyber security, artificial intelligence, and outer space sustainability,” Baigorri said.

Guinea: Eight-fold increase

The West African country represented by delegate Ousmane Gaoual Diallo pledged to support the ITU budget with one full contributory unit – a substantial commitment for one of the world’s 46 least developed countries.

In fact, the CHF 318,000 unit was eight times more than the country’s commitment up to now, he noted in Guinea’s policy statement.

Beyond giving more funds, the country aims to “actively participate in ITU’s Partner2Connect initiative and in the construction of the world information society,” Diallo said.

Papua New Guinea: Doubling commitment

Increasing regional responsibilities motivated Papua New Guinea to double its promised ITU budget contribution from a quarter to half a unit yearly, said delegate Timothy Masiu, calling his country “an emerging nation in the Pacific region.”

ITU needs to rethink its approach to global cooperation over the next four years, as individual countries need to tackle digital transformation differently, he added.

In delivering Papua New Guinea’s policy statement, Masiu proposed upping ITU’s direct Pacific presence with the “establishment of a sub-regional office in the Pacific.”

ITU’s lifeblood

Most of ITU’s 193 Member States pledged to maintain their voluntary annual budget contributions, which should continue to account for about two-thirds of the funding for the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies.

Five countries indicated fractional reductions amounting to 2 1/16 units, worth CHF 655,875.

Assuming current pledges materialize, ITU’s budget will increase by 3.6 per cent next year.

Effective mobilization of funds keeps the ITU budget healthy and helps support less developed countries in their quest to join the global digital community.

The quadrennial Plenipotentiary – where ITU strategic and financial plans are adopted and top ITU officials are elected – also serves as the main occasion for member states to reaffirm or adjust their annual contributions.

See the full set of policy statements and plenary speeches delivered at PP-22.

Learn more about how ITU is funded.

One Swiss franc (CHF 1.00) was worth just under one US dollar (USD 0.997) according to the UN Operational Rates of Exchange in October 2022.

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