Beirut, 19 March 2019 (ESCWA)—The Second Arab High-level Forum on World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development today kicked off at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) as part of a three-day event in partnership with the ITU Arab Regional Office (ITU), Lebanese Government, OGERO Telecom-Lebanon (OGERO), and the League of Arab States (LAS).
The Forum is composed of a cluster of meetings and events addressing the linkages of the various thematic areas covered with sustainable development with topics related to both the WSIS and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) processes, including, among others, Internet governance, digital financial inclusion and digital economy.
In the 2017 Buenos Aires Action Plan, five initiatives were set out for the Arab region, encompassing the different areas of environment and climate change, security in the use of information and communication technologies, digital financial inclusion, Internet of Things and Innovation and entrepreneurship. During the Arab High Level Forum, the ITU Regional Development Forum (RDF) will focus on reviewing and discussing the best way forward in implementing these initiatives
The session debuted with a welcoming speech from the Executive Secretary of ESCWA, Ms. Rola Dashti, who highlighted that Arab countries are still behind when it comes to adapting technology for sustainable development for reasons related to frail technology-related policies that encourage technology production and innovation. “Arab states committed in the Beirut Consensus on Technology for Sustainable Development to use technology and innovation for comprehensive development in the region that focuses on human growth,” she added.
The Lebanese Minister of Telecommunication, Mr. Mohamed Choucair, dubbed the linkage between WSIS and the 2030 Agenda as the most practical way to achieve sustainable development. “The Lebanese government will have efficient initiatives with both public and private sectors in this domain to achieve real progress,” he assured.
“I firmly believe that collaboration and cooperation lie at the heart of our efforts to connect the remaining 50% of the world’s population still without access to the online world,” stated the director of ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT), Ms. Doreen Bogdan- Martin, closing the first part of the session.
The second part included brief ministerial keynotes from the Lebanese Minister of State for Administrative Development, Ms. May Chidiac, the Lebanese Minister of Information Technology, Mr. Adel Afouni, and the Iraqi Minister of Telecommunication, Mr. Naim Al-Rubaye.
The panel discussed the role of digital technologies and stressed the need for Arab countries to develop their knowledge economies. “The Ministry of State for Administrative Reform, is playing a leading role in transitioning Lebanon toward a digital economy, as we prepare action plans for such a major endeavor” stated Ms. Chidiac.
In addition, participants in the Forum include policy and decision-makers who are directly involved in the process towards developing the information society and the attainment of the SDGs in the Arab region. Experts in the field of information and communication technology, as well as representatives of the public and private sectors, non-governmental organizations, and international and regional organizations were also in attendance.
Following the official opening remarks, ESCWA launched the Arab Horizon 2030: Digital Technologies for Development publication on promoting radical policy changes towards utilizing digital technologies for sustainable development in Arab countries, with proposals and recommendations for harnessing these technologies for social, economic and human development opportunities.
For more information:
-Nabil Abu-Dargham, Head, ESCWA Communication and Information Unit,
+961-70-993-144; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
-Ms Rania Harb, Public Information Assistant, +961-70-008-879; email: email@example.com