On behalf of the UNECE, I congratulate the Romanian Government
on the successful organization of this conference and would like to express
my thanks and appreciation for hosting the Pan European Regional Ministerial
Conference in preparation of the WSIS in Bucharest. We benefited from the
skilful organization of the high-level policy discussions, interactive dialogue
among governments, business sector and civil society, debates on e-government,
e-learning, e-inclusion, on an environment conducive to investments in the
Information Society (IS), on Youth as a part of IS, on building a gender-sensitive
IS, the role of mass media in promoting IS, etc. But we also enjoyed traditional
Romanian hospitality and friendship. I would like to thank particularly
the two key personalities who made this Conference happen: the Minister
of Communication and Information Technology, Mr. Dan Nica, and the Ambassador
to the United Nations Office at Geneva and Secretary General of the Conference,
Mrs. Anda Filip. Their extraordinary involvement in the preparation of the
Conference is - I am sure - also a guarantee for the follow-up to it which
will ensure the real success of the Conference.
I also congratulate the Governments' representatives on
the success of adopting the Declaration of the Fundamental Principles defining
the main directions for strategies for developing an information society.
It is primarily a responsibility of Governments to develop e-strategies
and to implement them. However, the preparation and far more efficient implementation
of the national e-strategies require the close cooperation of all stakeholders
- Governments, private sector and civil society. As expressed in the Preamble
of the Bucharest Declaration "their contribution is vital in the efforts
to bring full benefits of the IS to all". As the importance of civil society
in developing IS is so far not sufficiently understood I would like to underline
its indispensable role in ensuring that some fundamental principles are
put into practice, like securing access to information and knowledge, promoting
diversity and cultural identity, building IS at community level, developing
human capacity through education, training and skills, etc.
Our target is to develop an information society that would
be more democratic, more accountable and more inclusive. The information
and communication technologies have paved the way for the rise of the knowledge-based
economy that has become an engine of economic growth in the developed-market
economies. The emerging knowledge-based economy in the transition or former
transition economies could be a driving force for more rapid economic and
social developments that would accelerate the catching-up process. A major
task for Governments, business and NGOs is emerging: to prevent a digital
divide. Commitments based on shared responsibilities to work in partnership
for the implementation of the Bucharest Declaration are of key importance.
Nevertheless, the key objectives are not commitments but actions that would
mainstream ICT into work aimed at achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
The implementation of the Bucharest Declaration would promote the reduction
of development disparities among economies, promote prosperity within the
States by giving new opportunities to the younger generation and women and
to underdeveloped - often rural - areas. The IS conferences are not considered
to be "development conferences" but by their implications they are "development
One of the Bucharest Principles recognizes the role of
international policy dialogue on IS that should promote the exchange of
experience, including best practices, development and application of norms
and standards, the transfer of know-how, etc. The international policy dialogue
on IS started prior to this Conference: the Bishkek Conference on IS in
September 2002 set up a new Bishkek-Moscow negotiation framework on the
basis of which the dialogue continued further in Moscow on 21-28 October.
Another example of the initiative set up by the group of countries is the
newly agreed Regional Action Plan to reduce the Digital Divide between SEE
and the rest of Europe, which was on the Stability Pact e-SEE Agenda for
the Development of IS in Belgrade few days ago. The role of the UNECE is
to promote these initiatives and to ensure that sub-regional cooperation
extends to regional cooperation. The UNECE has actively supported this week's
Conference and will continue to support follow-up actions as well as the
intergovernmental preparatory process for the Summit. We would like to extend
our activities in the development of gender and youth sensitive IS society.
We will continue to work on the country assessment reports that measure
the development of a knowledge-based economy in the UNECE member States.
Nine of the reports have already been completed and are available on our
website. I would particularly welcome more attention to this project from
the more advanced members of the UNECE. The UNECE work in the e-applications
in e-business, e-government, e-regulation and e-policies and e-standardization
will continue. I would also like to inform you about two forthcoming events:
UNECE will organize, in cooperation with the Italian Government, the International
Seminar on E-Government in Italy, in December 2002, which will discuss how
to make government less expensive and more efficient, and the 2nd UNECE
Workshop on E-Regulation in February 2003 to which you are invited.
Before I conclude I would like to underline that the Bucharest
Conference is a major contribution to the WSIS 2003 in Geneva on the road
to a more prosperous, democratic and just world. We all have to work to
make it happen.