Beirut, 25 June 2018 (Communication and Information Unit)— On Monday, the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) kicked off its 30th Ministerial Session at the technical level by welcoming dozens of senior government officials to its headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon, to discuss global and regional developments ahead of a ministerial segment on Wednesday.
“Our region is lagging behind in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda, which increases the level of effort needed by ESCWA and its member States to deliver what the people of this region expect,” said Khawla Mattar, the Deputy Executive Secretary of the UN regional commission, in her welcome remarks.
“This Ministerial Session comes at a stage that is critical in terms of the intensity of challenges and what is required from ESCWA to address these difficulties, such as conflicts, occupation, displacement and migration, as well as social and economic crises,” Ms. Mattar added.
Held every two years and hosted by one of its 18 member States, the Ministerial Session is the main governing body of ESCWA, with high-level member State officials convening to discuss the activities of the Secretariat, its future work programme, and key economic and social development issues. In 2016, the Session took place in Doha, Qatar.
“Our world, especially the Arab region, is going through a complicated and precarious situation and it is our duty to exert further joint efforts to overcome these challenges," said Tariq bin Ali Faraj Al-Ansari, the Director of the International Cooperation Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Qatar, and Chair of the 29th Ministerial Session of ESCWA.
Mr. Al-Ansari highlighted the many workshops related to sustainable development, including economy, trade, energy, water and gender equality that were conducted during the past two years to continue addressing priority issues from one ministerial session to the next.
He further noted that the workshops focused on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, multi-dimensional poverty, and the adoption of a regional action plan to support statistical offices of Arab countries which are crucial to achieving the global agenda. Financial issues and the work being undertaken at the annual Arab forums for sustainable development were also addressed.
Meanwhile, the first two days of the Ministerial Session's senior officials segment (25-26 June) are intended to tackle various global and regional developments, the work of the Commission and its subsidiary bodies, as well as administrative issues. On Monday, ESCWA experts presented several reports, including a survey published annually by the commission which analyses economic and social developments. Panelists also discussed a study on “Megatrends in the transport sector and their impact on the Arab region” and on “Support for the Palestinian people: impact of the Israeli occupation and practices.”
The ministerial segment of the Session will take place on 27 and 28 June, with opening remarks expected by the representative of Qatar as Chair of the 29th session; the representative of Tunisia as Chair of the 30th session; Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Mohamed Ali Alhakim, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of ESCWA. The opening ceremony will also feature a statement by the President of the Lebanese Republic.
ESCWA selected “technology for sustainable development in the Arab region” as the theme in 2018, with a special focus on decent employment opportunities and empowering young people. Debates will underscore critical actions required from governments, the private sector and civil society in Arab countries in response to the exponential frontier or disruptive technologies sweeping the world. The goal is to maximize the benefits for sustainable development and lower risks of abuse and possible negative impact, working with governments in the Arab region.
Three round-table discussions will also feed into the dialogue, resulting in a ministerial declaration on technology for sustainable development with recommendations, for adoption by member States at the closing of the event.
In addition, the session will host four sideline events: the launching of the tenth report of the Arab Thought Foundation (ATF) on cultural development, a symposium on climate change in the Arab Region, and the launching of two ESCWA studies: Perspectives on the Digital Economy in the Arab Region; and Fostering Open Government in the Arab Region.
For more details on the Session, please visit: https://bit.ly/2kyS61a
For more information:
Nabil Abu-Dargham, Head, ESCWA Communication and Information Unit
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