Throughout 8-12 May 2017, CEDARE participated in the Arab High-Level Forum on World Summit for Information Society and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development held by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and its partners. The forum focused on internet governance and its linkages with the Sustainable Development Goals. Among the participants were the Lebanese Minister of Telecommunications, Minister of Administrative Reform, and Minister of Economy and Trade, and hosted 62 speakers including representation of CEDARE.
CEDARE contributed with two presentations for experience exchange presenting a case study of Egypt, discussing the potential for employing ICT for sustainable mobility in the urban context. In another session on digital technologies for the transport sector, CEDARE presented a case study of the Pharos Eco-Routing and Fleet Management Systems Project, both presenting project results as well as the challenges faced throughout the experience. The policy brief produced through PHAROS project for establishing the ITS sector in Egypt was also presented as an example for other countries, noting the simplified approach for disseminating information targeting decision makers and other stakeholders.
Throughout the 5-day event, International experts from the public and private sectors gathered to discuss and exchange experience in several fields related to ICT for development and prospects for the Arab Regions; state sovereignty, cyber security and social stability, implications of disruptive technologies and business models, smart cities and communities and relevance to poverty issues, the foreseen advent of the Arab Top Level Domain Names (ATLD) (Arabic script in domain names), Big Data for development, gender inclusion, among several other challenging topics where multiple gaps are apparent between the Arab countries and the rest of the world.
In experts meetings, four publications prepared by ESCWA were presented, namely: Arab digital agenda 2030; Arab Internet governance roadmap 2025; Smart transformation in Government and society in the Arab region; and Arab digital economy and smart society report. The meeting introduced ESCWA's vision on how to support the region in their efforts to harness the information society and digital economy to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda with address the role of both the supply side (ICT sector and infrastructure) and demand side (usage patterns and skills) in meeting development goals. Furthermore, an update on the Arab Internet Governance Forum (AIGF2020) Initiative was reviewed. AIGF2020 was launched by the Arab IGF umbrella organizations, ESCWA and LAS aiming to analyze and develop the Arab IGF process.
Among the instrumental programs implemented by ESCWA is the Regional Programme for the Promotion of an Information Society and Digital Economy Hub in the Arab Region (ISDEHAR). ISDEHAR is an ESCWA multifaceted programme promoting the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Arab region by 2020, as defined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development targeting the development of the digital economy and smart societies in the Arab region. It shall implement studies, training programs, and thematic experience-exchange events including an annual forum and competition. A central theme throughout the event was the need to shift the nature of the Arab region's involvement in ICT from a predominantly consumptive nature to a creative productive one, and the need to overcome the resistance to change and 'fear of the unknown' in order to make use of the many opportunities that ICT has to offer for addressing many of the challenges faced, while carefully recognizing and confronting the associated risks with a proactive approach.