United Nations Global Forum on ICTs, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates 2010

(2010 Abu Dhabi, UAE) “Managing Knowledge in the Era of Information and Communication Technologies”, United Nations Global Forum on ICTs

Managing Knowledge in the Era of Information and Communication Technologies, United Nations Global Forum 2010 entitled “ICT for MDGs: Moving from Advocacy to Actions” organized by the Global Alliance for ICT and Development, 5-6 December 2010, Abu Dhabi: UAE

Summary: Since the Rio summit in 1992 sustainable development (SD) is becoming increasingly a major concern for all Arab countries. Yet, translating the principles of SD into effective economic and environmental policies seems to be a major challenge for all countries. Based on the assumption that knowledge must be widely disseminated and freely accessible to have an impact, knowledge systems and knowledge economy seem to open up new and varied avenues to be explored in the direction of sustainability. Knowledge is a prerequisite for achieving SD, chief currency and the essence of modern age. Knowledge is also considered as a strategic resource and a lifeline for all Arab countries’ SD. The World Bank’s recommendation in 1998 for all countries particularly UAE is to embark on the diversification of their economic resources such as approaching development from a Knowledge Management perspective by adapting policies to increase know how and knowledge attributes that can improve people’s lives in myriad ways. How can knowledge contribute and enhance SD? This is the main issue we will address in this lecture. The presentation aims at showing the difficulty in attaining SD for many Arab countries. It deals first with the issue of knowledge systems and knowledge economy and their links with sustainability from a conceptual point of view. It highlights the specific situation of many Arab countries stressing the difficulties they meet in this respect and shows how knowledge capabilities are highly correlated with levels of sustainability using knowledge and sustainability indexes. The presentation will also lay out the issues of the knowledge divide and demonstrate the need for a new partnership to bridge this gap. In particular, improve development practice by promoting changes in the way the development sector approaches the selection, management and use of knowledge in the formation and implementation of its policies and programmes. There is overwhelming evidence for the disparity in scientific output between the Arab countries and developed countries with more than 60% of the total world output relating to S&T produced by only 11 industrially developed countries. There is a growing literature in the Arab countries but it is more fragmented, and often restricted to sector applications or to country specific interests. It is therefore difficult for decision-makers in these countries to access systematic information about the potential applications that are being developed and implemented and to consider how they could be applied to meet their own development needs. Equally important, we must also acknowledge that some Arab countries such as UAE have become a regional hub for innovation and business development. The presentation will also highlight the need for global governance for SD, policy coherence and new partnerships to explore policy options and governance models to meet those challenges at the global, regional, national and local levels. It is hoped that the lecture will be a good opportunity for researchers, students, practitioners, policy-makers and knowledge managers to reflect on their use and management of knowledge. New perspectives on how these can be improved to better serve their goals will be developed. The discussion addresses entrepreneurship, innovation, ICT; open access; and technology transfer as key elements of knowledge, while the conclusion explores some of the opportunities to achieve SD.