Highlights: ITU Plenipotentiary Conference 2022

The Plenipotentiary Conference is the supreme decision-making body of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). At this highest-level meeting, 193 Member States are set to agree on ITU’s strategic and financial plans, leadership, and direction for the next four years.

Find background information about PP-22 here, or scroll down for regular updates from the conference.




Photo of the day: The Ecotic Caravan, a ‘mobile museum’ featuring interactive displays about e-waste,
sits outside the PP-22 venue on Wednesday 28 September. Image credit: ITU/D. Woldu
Pre-conference
Week 1
Monday 26 September
Tuesday 27 September
Wednesday 28 September
Thursday 29 September
Friday 30 September
Week 2
Monday 3 October
Tuesday 4 October
Wednesday 5 October
Thursday 6 October
Friday 7 October
Week 3
Monday 10 October
Tuesday 11 October
Wednesday 12 October
Thursday 13 Octobber
Friday 14 October

28 September

Delegates convened on the third day of the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference (PP-22) to continue their deliberations in a series of official meetings, ad hoc discussions, and informal consultations.

Also on Day 3, another set of policy statements was delivered during the fourth and fifth Plenary sessions.

A visit to the Ecotic Caravan

In the spirit of the ‘green’ theme of PP-22, ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao visited the Ecotic Caravan, an e-waste ‘mobile museum’ parked outside host country Romania’s Palace of Parliament during the first week of the conference.

ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao visits the Ecotic Caravan outside the venue of the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in Bucharest, Romania. Image credit: ITU/D.Woldu

Valentin Negoiță, President of Ecotic, explained the organization’s mission to raise awareness about e-waste management, highlighting a series of initiatives from public information campaigns and training courses to developing e-waste collection infrastructure with recyclers across Romania.

Learn more about how ITU is greening PP-22 here.

Elections starting soon

Today’s proceedings transpired on the eve of elections of ITU’s new executive management team.

Voting is set to start tomorrow, with the election of the Secretary-General, followed by the Deputy Secretary-General.

Learn more about ITU’s official election process here.

Read exclusive interviews with each of the candidates here.

27 September

The second day of the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference (PP-22) featured further high-level policy statements from ITU Member States on their respective digital transformation plans.

All policy statements given to date can be found here.

Three of six PP-22 Committees began their first official meetings, as did the Working Group of the Plenary (WG-PL).

Responsibilities are divided among committees as follows:

  1. Steering Committee
  2. Credentials
  3. Budget
  4. Editorial
  5. Policy and legal issues
  6. Administration and management

and a Working Group of the Plenary.

The Plenary, WG-PL and the six committees establish daily schedules for the work to be covered at each of their sessions.

Find the PP-22 daily schedule here.

Video interviews underway in the ITU Studio

“This is the largest event of its kind that we’ve ever hosted,” said Romania’s Minister of Research, Innovation and Digitalization, Sebastian Burduja, when asked about the significance of PP-22 for the host country.

Burduja said the signing of the Bucharest Declaration at Romania’s pre-conference Ministerial Roundtable would go down as “one of the most significant moments” of the ITU Plenipotentiary.

“It essentially highlights our joint commitment with over 50 nations around the world –  from all continents – to an open, secure, reliable, interoperable Internet: access to it, bridging the digital divide, as well as ensuring these opportunities for all,” he explained.

Slovenia’s Minister of Digital Transformation, Emilija Stojmenova Duh, outlined a strategy to drive digital transformation by bolstering connectivity nationwide. “By 2025, we plan to cover 100 per cent of urban municipalities with high-speed broadband, and by 2030 the rural areas as well,” she said, adding:

“In Slovenia, access to the Internet is a universal service, so everybody has the right to be connected.”

For Pawel Lewandowski, Undersecretary of State in the Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland, the Plenipotentiary Conference is “a great opportunity to talk face-to-face about problems that are the same almost everywhere in the world, such as Internet availability and bridging the digital gap.”

He expressed his country’s willingness to share experiences and to learn from other countries about tackling problems across the entire information and communication technology (ICT) sector.

“One of the highest priorities is cybersecurity,” said Peter Ocko, Deputy Minister for Digitization and Innovations, Czech Republic.

“We pushed for quick implementation of new legislation in the EU in this area.”

He also noted the “many synergies” of European Union plans and policies with ITU’s work on digital infrastructure and human-centric approaches to digital technology development.

For Spain’s Secretary of State for Telecommunications and Digital Infrastructure, Roberto Sánchez Sánchez, telecommunication networks are the “first essential step towards universal connectivity.”

He expressed pride in being part of the ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission, through which he aims to help drive the development of universal connectivity.

26 September – Opening day

The opening of ITU’s 21st Plenipotentiary Conference, also known as PP-22, brought about 2,000 information and communication technology (ICT) decision-makers from ITU’s 193 Member States to Bucharest, Romania, to advance digital transformation for the good of all.

The day began with a flag-raising ceremony ahead of the official conference opening.

The ITU flag is raised in front of the Palace of Parliament in Bucharest, Romania. Image credit: ITU/R. Farrell

Opening ceremony

To open the conference, the Cantus Mundi Choir and the National Chamber Choir Madrigal-Marin Constantin sang the Romanian national anthem. Delegates were then regaled with “Connect and Unite”, a surprise song composed specially for PP-22.

The Cantus Mundi Choir and the National Chamber Choir Madrigal-Marin Constantin perform for PP-22 delegates during the opening ceremony. Image credit: ITU/R. Farrell

Deputy Prime Minister Sorin Mihai Grindeanu welcomed all delegates to Romania for three weeks of discussions on crucial global technology issues. “It is an honour and a privilege for us to organize the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference 2022 in a Member State of the European Union for the first time in the last 30 years,” he said.

“We are in the middle of a digital revolution,” he added. “How we live and use this technological advantage dictates the development of our economies and societies.”

Deputy Prime Minister Sorin Mihai Grindeanu of Romania addresses the conference. Image credit: ITU/R. Farrell

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres delivered a video message to greet PP-22 delegates, noting how “digital transformation and connectivity are critical to rescue the Sustainable Development Goals.” “It is essential that we seize the opportunities of digital technology while protecting against its risks,” he said, calling on delegates to “put humanity’s progress at the centre of discussions.”

In his opening remarks, ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao welcomed delegates and congratulated ITU’s Romanian hosts on their country’s rapid digital transformation.

“This is a momentous occasion, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our members, partners and others for their successful and tireless work in promoting ICTs,” he said.

ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao delivers remarks during the opening of the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference.
Image credit: ITU/R. Farrell

Romania’s Minister of Research, Innovation, and Digitalization, Sebastian Burduja, wished delegates success, expressing gratitude for the opportunity to host PP-22 in Bucharest.      

“It’s normal to feel overwhelmed by the pace of innovation but also blessed that we can be here to discuss it, to debate it, to decide what we’ll do further and how we answer the difficult questions that lie before us,” he said in his remarks at the opening ceremony.

Romania’s Minister of Minister of Research, Innovation, and Digitalization Sebastian Burduja addresses the conference.
Image credit: ITU/R. Farrell

“Connecting and uniting: it is the mission of ITU. And it involves both adopting new technologies, but also preparing all of the citizens of the planet to use them.”

Read more about the opening ceremony of PP-22 here.

ITU Elected Officials and representatives of the host country at the Opening Ceremony of PP-22. Image credit: ITU/R. Farrell

First Plenary

The conference’s first plenary session began with the adoption of the agenda and the appointment of the PP-22 Chair, Sabin Sărmaș, head of Romania’s parliamentary Information Technology and Communications Commission.

“We are here in Romania at a one-of-a-kind event,” Sărmaș said. “A once in a lifetime experience – under our flag − that carries a message to ‘Connect and Unite.’”

PP-22 Chair Sabin Sărmaș addresses the first plenary session of the conference. Image credit: ITU/D. Woldu

The newly confirmed Chair thanked the institutions involved in the organization of PP-22 for their time, efforts, and resources.

“In only three weeks, our work can have a huge impact. Let’s use them as a unique opportunity to make the world a better place,” Sărmaș said, adding:

“We can only achieve consensus through close collaboration. We must use our time wisely because it is limited.” He urged delegates to envisage a better future for humanity as they negotiate.

ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao also addressed the first plenary session, saying: “People everywhere recognize and appreciate the power of technology – but the world expects more from ICTs.”

He reviewed the four years since ITU’s last Plenipotentiary Conference in 2018, noting the disruptions surrounding COVID-19, and then laid out the challenges ahead.

“The world needs ICTs, and ICTs need ITU,” he concluded, wishing delegates a successful conference.

Delegates decided to maintain the contributory unit for ITU’s annual budget at 318,000 Swiss francs (CHF) per year for the period 2024-2027.

Monday’s plenary also saw government officials begin to share their countries’ plans to accelerate digital transformation, as outlined in a series of policy statements.

Dive into what each ITU Member State said about its key ICT priorities and plans on the PP-22 Policy Statements page.


Pre-conference

At the final meeting of the 2022 session of the ITU Council on 24 September, delegates expressed their appreciation for the Government of Romania’s warm welcome and for hosting the Plenipotentiary in such a magnificent venue: the Palace of Parliament in Bucharest.

Chair Saif Bin Ghelaita presides over the last session of ITU Council 2022. Image credit: ITU/D. Woldu
Chair Saif Bin Ghelaita presides over the last session of ITU Council 2022. Image credit: ITU/D. Woldu

Delegates thanked the Italian external auditor, Corte dei conti, for their work and congratulated the UK national audit office on their appointment as incoming external auditor.

At the final session of ITU Council 2022, the United States announced an increase of their contributory unit from 30 to 35, for a total of CHF 11,130,000 per year, towards the organization’s general budget.

Delegates expressed their gratitude to ITU Council Chair Saif Bin Ghelaita of the United Arab Emirates for his extraordinary work over the past two and a half years and welcomed incoming ITU Council Chair César Martinez of Paraguay.

Secretary-General Houlin Zhao thanked delegates for bringing the last session of 2022 Council to a successful close.

“To describe the past cycle as ‘challenging’ would be an understatement,” he said, noting how the Virtual Consultation of Councillors enabled decisions to be taken by correspondence amid the pandemic, “showing growing interest from our Member States.”

ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao addresses the last session of ITU Council 2022. Image credit: ITU/D. Woldu

Mr. Zhao presented certificates of appreciation to Council Working Group Chairs for their work over many years.

He also acknowledged Expert Group Chairs whose terms came to an end, and thanked all those who supported Council activities over the last four years.

ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao presented certificates of appreciation to Council Working Group Chairs and Expert Group Chairs. Image credit: ITU/D.Woldu

Host country Romania organized a Ministerial Roundtable on the eve of the Plenipotentiary Conference, 25 September, where ICT ministers from around the world gathered to discuss building a better digital future for all.

Ministerial Roundtable: Building a better future for all. Image credit: ITU/M. Jacobson-Gonzalez.

The ministers signed a declaration on the need to continue accelerating digital transformation, universal connectivity, and inclusion to ensure that no one is left behind. The declaration also highlighted the need to facilitate new and emerging telecommunications/ICTs for sustainable development.

Bucharest Declaration: “Building a better digital future for all”