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Speech by SCIT at ITU TELECOM WORLD 2006 Forum Closing Session "Working Together in the Digital World"

Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology, Mr Joseph WP Wong, at ITU TELECOM WORLD 2006 Forum Closing Session "Working Together in the Digital World" today (December 8) (English only):

Dr Toure, Vice Minister Xi, distinguished guests, friends, ladies and gentlemen,

As the ITU TELECOM World 2006 is coming to a close, I'd like to thank you all for participating in this event and I believe all of us have benefited from either the exhibition or the forum, or both.

The exhibition provides a platform for the industry players to do business, to make or renew contacts, to exchange ideas on the latest technological and product developments, to better understand the vast opportunities of the ICT industry and to make plans for the future.

In parallel, the forum offers an invaluable opportunity for decision makers and experts in governments and the ICT industry as well as what I would call Next Generation Leaders to interact and consider the wider issues of government policies and the political, economic and social implications arising from the unprecedented advancement of ICT and its huge and widespread impact on economies, communities and individuals.

So, I'd like to thank all the moderators, speakers, panelists and participants in the forum for their active participation and enlightening views. In particular, the Forum Advisory Committee has prepared for us such a comprehensive programme that covers practically all major aspects of the digital world and lined up so many top leaders in the ICT field. I congratulate the ITU, Dr Jafari and his colleagues in the committee for a great job well done!

Take the Internet as a case in point, as the Secretary-General of the United Nations said in his message to the Internet Governance Forum held in Athens in October this year, the Internet has outgrown its origins as a network run by and for computer specialists, and the challenge is to bring two cultures together: the non-governmental Internet community, with its traditions of informal, bottom-up decision-making, and the more formal, structured world of governments and intergovernmental organisations. I believe that the key to successfully addressing various issues coming up in the digital world is for all parties to recognise, respect and accept the important contributions that the others make.

Without a doubt, the Internet community is right at the frontline of the digital world. Internet users can sniff out potential issues or problems even before they surface, particularly on new technologies, new services and new business models. Internet users can share experiences and exchange opinions that could help to identify or pinpoint the issues or problems requiring attention. But no single group of stakeholders could do it all. When it comes to assessing the potential implications of any remedial measures, and implementing those remedial measures effectively, such as through national laws or international agreements, the formal, structured world of governments and intergovernmental organisations do have an important role to play.

Therefore, looking forward, we need platforms to enable different groups of stakeholders, from the Internet Community to governments and intergovernmental organisations, and from the better developed to the least developed countries and regions, to engage in dialogues and free exchange of views on issues of mutual concern that could influence the functioning and development of the digital world. The World Summit on the Information Society, the Internet Governance Forum and the TELECOM WORLD Forum held this week has amply demonstrated the value of such exchanges and how much we could learn from each other and develop new partnerships. Under the auspices of the United Nations and the ITU, I am confident that such multi-stakeholder dialogues on the digital world will be convened in good time.

We are honoured and pleased to be the host city for the ITU TELECOM WORLD 2006. I hope you will find our facilities within and outside this exhibition venue satisfactory and I pledge that Hong Kong will continue to participate actively in ITU events and activities.

Thank you.

Friday, December 8, 2006