Opening of the second meeting of the United Nations Group on the Information Society (UNGIS)
On Tuesday, 17 July 2007, the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, opened the second meeting of the United Nations Group on the Information Society (UNGIS) at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, along with Mr Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and chairman of UNGIS.
UNGIS is the interagency mechanism tasked by the UN's Chief Executive Board to coordinate the substantive policy aspects of the UN's implementation of the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).
Mr Matsuura congratulated Mr Touré for ITU's leadership of UNGIS during the past year and noted that UNESCO, which will be taking over the chairmanship of UNGIS, would continue to work to firmly establish UNGIS as one of the key implementation mechanisms for WSIS.
In his introductory remarks, the Director-General noted that it was crucial for the UN system to achieve a coherent follow-up to the WSIS outcomes, and that UNGIS played an important role in this regard, especially within the context of the current drive for the UN to "deliver as one."
Mr Matsuura encouraged UNGIS to work towards "building knowledge societies, where people could express themselves freely, access and use information knowledge, where cultural and linguistic diversity is seen as a richness, and where quality education was accessible to all."
He noted that governments had a crucial role to play, as they could promote leadership, help develop a sense of ownership of national development goals and empower people to develop their own solutions and capacities, an objective that lies at the heart of the WSIS process.
The Director-General went on to emphasize the importance for UNGIS to contribute to country level planning, in particular to the eight "Delivering as One" pilot countries. He suggested that UNGIS could work through the UN country teams to propose to governments possible actions in response to national priorities in the area of information and communication for development.
Mr Matsuura concluded that he hoped "UN Reform will provide a catalyst for harmonizing different business approaches and infrastructure systems, including IT-based systems and related information tools" and that "the WSIS follow-up could provide important support in this regard, […] which would contribute significantly to the UN's capacity to deliver as one."