The second Arab High-level Forum on World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and 2030 Agenda was organised by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) in partnership with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Arab Regional Office, the Lebanese Government, OGERO Telecom-Lebanon, and the League of Arab States from 19-20 March 2019, in Beirut, Lebanon. The forum, which was attended by private and public sector members, tackled different topics including Internet governance, digital financial inclusion, and the digital economy in the context of the sustainable development goals (SDGs). During the forum, participants emphasised the importance of large infrastructures to improve Internet access and e-services. Research, development, and innovation were further accentuated as essentials to promote digital economy. During the opening ceremony, ESCWA Executive Secretary Rola Dashti, noted that the Arab region is still lagging vis-à-vis the adoption of technology to support sustainable development. The Lebanese Minister of Telecommunication also highlighted that the linkage between WSIS and the 2030 Agenda is ‘the most practical way’ to achieve sustainable development.
The impact of the Internet on businesses and the global economy has been crucial in shaping new economic models, and at the same time, raising new concerns.
The Internet is one of the primary drivers of economic growth, which is visible in many countries that have placed the development of ICT as one of the primary tools for boosting the economy.
The need for people to gain access to ICT resources and narrow the digital divide is crucial, and is especially relevant now in the light of the Sustainable Development Goals. It is also important to understand how access to the Internet affects the level of economic and social development in a country.