The 30th Ministerial Session of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) will be held in Beirut on Thursday , with a focus on “technology for sustainable development in the Arab region.” The session will comprise two segments: the senior officials segment (June25-26 ), and the ministerial segment (June 27-28).
Held every two years, the Ministerial Session is the main governing body of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA). Ministers and high-level member State officials from across the region convene to discuss the activities of the Secretariat, its future work program, and key economic and social development issues facing the region.
Technology for sustainable and inclusive development can be defined as the knowledge to achieve practical social, economic and environmental objectives that satisfy the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Particularly since the industrial revolutions, technology has acquired an important role in everyday life.
New and emerging technologies are shaping the world as we know it today with leapfrog progress in smart phones, 3D printing, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, online education, digital economy, renewable and efficient energy sources, water management and irrigation, food production, smart cities, biotechnology and other “frontier technologies.”
With the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, countries identified technology as essential for eradicating poverty, growing the economy and protecting the environment, with the goal of “leaving no one behind.” To achieve this, ESCWA has been calling to ensure that productivity gains from technology are balanced with fair distribution of growth and inclusive participation at all levels.
The Ministerial Session will serve as a platform to discuss 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.
The biennial event will feature three moderated roundtables to generate discussions with policymakers, civil society leaders, as well as representatives from the private sector, academia and youth. These will address integrating technology and innovation into national development planning; the first round-table discussion will focus on how technology and innovation are mainstreamed into the national development plans of Arab countries. Panelists will exchange experiences and lessons learned from existing initiatives to maximize benefits and minimize risks associated with harnessing technology for sustainable development in the Arab region.The second round-table discussion will examine prerequisites for technological change to achieve inclusiveness and sustainability, and preserve natural resources. It will also reflect on the impact of technology on population groups, including women, youth, and rural and urban dwellers. It will highlight the interplay between technology, youth, employment and inclusion, and prospects for enhancing gender equality and increasing environmental sustainability.
This round-table discussion will highlight the opportunities and challenges related to frontier technologies. It will tackle the policies and regulations governing frontier technologies in Arab countries, in the context of national priorities, especially youth employment, reconstruction and economic diversification. It will also identify the main interventions required on the national, regional and global levels to deal with technology-related issues.
The outcome of the Ministerial Session will be a declaration on the main theme of discussions and is expected to set and renew commitments towards achieving crucial development goals in the Arab region.