(LEAD) (ITU) ITU puts information, communication technology at forefront of global issues
By Kang Yoon-seung
BUSAN, Nov. 6 (Yonhap) -- Members of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) are set to end their three weeks of discussions Friday on how the global community can be connected online, reaffirming that information and communication technologies (ICT) can contribute greatly to solving cross-border issues.
Some 3,000 delegates from more than 170 member countries gathered in this South Korean port city starting Oct. 20 for the 19th plenipotentiary conference that opens every four years. This year's meeting opened with the backdrop of the missing Malaysian airplane and the Ebola scare that induced member states to seriously address the sharing of information and technology for a connected world that ensures everyone has access to the same tools in solving problems.
Specifically, ITU members agreed to team up to use ICT in preventing the spread of Ebola and providing support to disease-stricken African countries, focusing on rural areas.
Members of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) hold a meeting on Nov. 6, 2014. They are set to end their three-week conference on Nov. 7 that discussed how the global community can be connected online and affirmed that information and communication technologies can contribute greatly to solving cross-border issues. (Yonhap)
The members also took a step forward in aviation safety by supporting a resolution on real-time flight data tracking, deciding to discuss the issue at the forthcoming World Radiocommunication Conference in 2015. The move follows the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in March that took off from Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing.
They pledged to work to further apply ICT to "monitoring and management in emergency and disaster situations for early warning, prevention, mitigation and relief."
At the same time, the attending nations reinforced the potential of ICT.
ICT, the members concurred, can and should be given a more prominent role in achieving the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals that will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) at the end of next year.
For the host nation South Korea, event helped solidify its image as an ICT leader.
Lee Chae-sub, a specialist in IT convergence, was elected to head the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, the first time for a South Korean to take one of the top posts at the ITU.
A handful of South Korea-supported agenda items were approved by other members.
The ITU adopted the Connect 2020 resolution, which aims to foster access to and use of ICT and bridge the digital divide. The promotion of the Internet of Things (IoT) technology was also accepted by the members.
South Korea's Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning said the ITU was "an opportunity to promote the country's creative economy policy."
A key policy of President Park Geun-hye, the creative economy drive seeks to foster economic growth by turning innovative ideas into actual businesses through the use of advanced technology.
This year's meeting is also marked by a change of leadership at the ITU.
Incumbent Deputy Secretary-General Zhao Houlin was elected to head the ITU for the next four years, becoming the organization's first leader from China. Malcolm Johnson from Britain was elected to succeed him as the deputy.
The UAE, meanwhile, bid to host the next ITU conference in 2018.
"Flight tracking, combating Ebola, the protection of users and consumers, youth and ICTs, gender equality, combating counterfeit devices... (the conference) has renewed and strengthened the consensus among ITU member states...further enhancing ITU's engagement with all stakeholders," incumbent Secretary-General Hamadoun Toure said Thursday.
"I am absolutely confident that when you meet again, in the United Arab Emirates, in four years time, the next secretary general, Houlin Zhao, will be able to report on further solid and dramatic progress," he said.
Min Wonki, the South Korean chair of the Busan conference, lauded the event as having set the stage for the next chapter.
"And indeed, much work still remains to be done, but together, we have helped make our union ready to take up future opportunities and challenges," he said.