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100 days until key ITU conference in Bucharest

The countdown is on for the governing conference of the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies (ICTs).

From 26 September to 14 October, ICT leaders from around the world will gather in Bucharest, Romania for PP-22 – the upcoming Plenipotentiary Conference of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

With just over three months left until the conference, delegates from ITU’s 193 Member States are preparing to grapple with questions ranging from the upsurge of satellite launches and harmonizing 5G networks to ensuring everyone gets meaningful Internet connectivity.

Rallied under a call to “Connect and Unite”, they will set the high-level agenda for ITU’s  radiocommunication spectrum, standardization, and development activities over the next four years. The Plenipotentiary – known informally as “Plenipot” or “PP” – selects the top management for the ITU Secretariat, sets out key strategic objectives, and affirms common positions among ITU Member States worldwide.

As digital transformation picks up pace around the world, an anticipated 2,500 decision-makers will set out the roadmap for the organization’s work for 2024-2027.

Electing new leadership

As happens every four years, representatives of all those Member States will elect 48 of their number, including both developed and developing countries across six world regions, to sit on the next ITU Council, which governs the entire organization between Plenipotentiary Conferences.

Member States attending PP-22 will also elect new officials to top leadership positions, including Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary-General.

Elections will also be held for the directorship of each of the three bureaux that support ITU’s work in the key sectors of radiocommunication, standardization, and development. The Radiocommunication Bureau coordinates global radio spectrum allocations; the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau facilitates ITU members’ development of international technical standards; and the Telecommunication Development Bureau helps promote digital inclusion for under-served communities, including the 2.9 billion people still unconnected to the Internet today.

Candidates are also up for election to the 12-member Radio Regulations Board, which guides ITU in applying the legally binding Radio Regulations treaty, registers Member States’ frequency assignments, and addresses cases of unresolved interference.

Green, inclusive, and gender-responsive

As a Plenipot first, the ITU Secretariat has set out to make the quadrennial conference gender-responsive, green, and inclusive of youth – in line with the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations for 2030.

In the traditionally (and still today) male-dominated field of tech, PP-22 aims to advance gender equality and inclusion pro-actively. ITU and host country Romania are encouraging all Member States to infuse their official delegations with larger shares of women, as well as to include young people.

This strong focus on gender equality and youth will also underpin conference agenda-setting, governance, and decision-making.

This conference aims to be the greenest and most sustainable in the history of ITU Plenipots – which date all the way back to 1865!

Watch this space

The upcoming Plenipotentiary Conference offers a relatively rare opportunity for ITU’s diverse membership to connect and unite – to try narrowing their differences on key technical and sustainable development issues despite daunting geo-political challenges. It also maximizes ITU’s value as a public-private cooperation forum with global reach.

Uniquely among UN agencies, ITU’s membership comprises not just Member States, but also over 900 companies, universities, and international and regional organizations from around the world.

Global gatherings enable ITU members to raise awareness about the importance of closing the digital gap and harnessing new and emerging technologies for a sustainable future.

To follow the conversations and outcomes of PP-22, subscribe to the ITU Newsletter, and follow #Plenipot on social media.

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