This year marks the 150th anniversary of the first International Telegraph Convention and the creation of one of the world's oldest and most influential intergovernmental agencies, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Created in 1865 in Paris, ITU has played an instrumental role in global communications, working behind the scenes as new technologies have emerged. To celebrate this occasion, the Global Sustainability Foundation, in conjunction with ITU, will host an event titled "Connecting the World", and inaugurate the first Annual ICTs in Sustainable Development Awards. ICTs, meaning "information communications technologies", represent all of the technology that connects us, whether it's a fibre optic network or simply your mobile phone. These ICT awards are given to countries that have demonstrated remarkable social and economic progress through the successful implementation of ICTs.
Recipients of this year's award include Bangladesh, for "recognition of its achievement in ensuring use of information and communications technologies for sustainable development", and Bahrain, for its progressive introduction of ICTs to key government services and investments in the communications sector. These nations, and so many others, represent the significant impact ICTs have around the world.
Since the dawn of the space age, the International Telecommunications Union has played an integral role in the global cooperation of satellite communication and technology among governments, private companies, and public stakeholders. The importance of ITU has never been greater with the proliferation of wireless technology worldwide, from cell phones to GPS systems and television programs. Alongside satellites, "space services are vital in monitoring and transmitting changes in such data such as ocean temperature, vegetation patterns and greenhouse gases--helping predict famines, the path of a hurricane, or how the global climate is changing." ITU's work extends to the introduction of ICT technology in underdeveloped regions around the world.
As the Millennium Development Goals come to a close this month, the United Nations is unveiling the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals. With this new vision comes the need for IT technology to aid in the implementation and monitoring of global development endeavors, and underscores the need for ITU to continue connecting the world. As new challenges emerge, ITU's mission will be to integrate new technologies as they develop and make it an available resource for all.