WTISD 2021: Time to accelerate digital transformation

World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) offers us a unique moment to reflect on the developments of information and communication technologies (ICTs), the challenges they pose and the actions we can take to connect the unconnected.

Celebrated annually every 17 May since 1969, WTISD marks the founding of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention in 1865.

On this important occasion, I wish to express sincere appreciation to the global ICT family: all the leaders, experts, entrepreneurs, academics, researchers, people in small and large companies and others who are engaged in ICT development.

Congratulations on your marvelous achievements and thank you for your excellent contributions!

I also want to thank UN Secretary-General António Guterres for sharing his powerful statement on WTISD 2021 that digital technologies are a force for good that can help us achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and leave no one behind.

This big challenge calls for multi-stakeholder cooperation, the kind that we have seen from ITU Members and partners since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
I call on all ITU Members and other stakeholders to continue our efforts to harness the power of ICTs to advance ITU’s Connect 2030 Agenda, the Action Lines of the World Summit on the Information Society Forum and the SDGs.

The pandemic has brought us many challenges. ICTs have proven to be a powerful tool in keeping businesses running and our lives going. Still, many opportunities and challenges lie ahead. That is why digital transformation must accelerate for a better future.

Yet if we continue on our current path at this pace, it will be very difficult to achieve the SDGs and connect the other half of humanity by the end of the decade.

Now is the time to accelerate digital transformation!

With those not connected living largely in poor areas that struggle to attract investors, and with limited investment resources not always being focused on ICT infrastructure, what we need now is a new mindset. A new strategy that promotes investments in ICTs and encourages all actors to make the best use of limited resources.

On this day and beyond, I hope that we can all pull together to build back better with ICTs and unite the world in pursuit of digital transformation in every area of business, all parts of life and for everyone.

Adapted from Mr. Zhao’s opening remarks during the High-level Panel to mark World Telecommunication and Information Society Day 2021.