A high-level forum for the Arab region was dedicated to internet governance, digital financial inclusion and the digital economy in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals. Experts and officials from the public and private sectors have emphasized the need for “big infrastructure” providing affordable access to the Internet and e-services for all. Forum discussions also called for stimulating research, development and innovation to build a strong digital economy that creates jobs for young people.
The second Arab High-Level Forum on the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and the 2030 Agenda met from 19 to 20 March 2019 in Beirut, Lebanon. It was organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) in partnership with the Arab regional office of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the Lebanese government, OGERO Telecom-Lebanon and the League of Arab States.
WSIS is a United Nations initiative that convened summits in 2003 and 2005, followed by a review in 2015 of the implementation of its outcomes. This review resulted in calls for alignment between the WSIS process and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, highlighting the cross-cutting contribution of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to sustainable development and the eradication of poverty.
Rola Dashti, Executive Secretary of ESCWA, said at the opening of the High-Level Arab Forum on WSIS and Agenda 2030 that Arab countries are still lagging behind in adapting technology to sustainable development in particular because of “fragile” policies encouraging technology production and innovation. She mentioned that the Arab States had committed in the Beirut Consensus on Technology for Sustainable Development to use technology and innovation to ensure “comprehensive” development focused on human growth.
Mohamed Choucair, Lebanese Minister of Telecommunications, noted that the link between WSIS and the 2030 Agenda was “the most practical way” to achieve sustainable development. He said the Lebanese government will create “effective” public-private initiatives to advance sustainable development goals through technology.
Doreen Bogdan-Martin of the ITU stressed that collaboration and cooperation are essential to connect the remaining 50% of the world’s population who still do not have access to the online world.
Source: SDG Knowledge Hub.