News Article | New York 4 August 2022
The Global Forum on Cyber Expertise (GFCE) and the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations (UN) successfully co-hosted a side event luncheon during the UN Open-Ended Working Group on Security of and in the Use of Information and Communications Technologies (OEWG) on 27 July 2022. The side event showcased the upcoming Global Conference on Cyber Capacity Building (GC3B), which will be held in 2023 and co-organized by the GFCE, Cyber Peace Institute, World Bank, and World Economic Forum.
With more than 80 delegates, representatives, and other guests in attendance, the side event focused on the critical need for cyber capacity building (CCB) to become a key enabler of sustainable and resilient digital development, reflecting the theme of next year’s inaugural conference: “Cyber Resilience for Development.” It also presented the aims, objectives, intended outcomes, and the draft agenda of the conference. In addition to the GFCE and the Permanent Mission, the side event was supported by eight co-sponsors: the governments of Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand, The Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United States of America, as well as the Organization of American States (OAS).
Moderated by GFCE Co-Director Marjo Baayen, the session opened with remarks from John Reyels of the German Federal Foreign Office and the GFCE Foundation Board President, Christopher Painter. Both emphasized that the genesis of the conference is in response to a critical disconnect between the cybersecurity, cyber resilience, and digital development communities, specifically how the former two are imperative to the latter, yet significant awareness, capacity, and resources are lacking to realize this need. Moreover, they stressed that this conference is necessary to advance and operationalize collaboration on CCB.
Painter in particular highlighted how the GC3B seeks to bring together leaders, decision-makers, practitioners, and experts to catalyze global action on mainstreaming cybersecurity, cyber resilience, and CCB across the international development agenda. He also underscored how the conference is meant to raise awareness of how cybersecurity and cyber resilience are key enablers of sustainable development, inclusive economic growth, and social prosperity for all, as well as crucial to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Reflecting these aims, the conference program is being built upon four pillars: (1) Making International Development Cyber Resilient; (2) Collaborating to Secure the Digital Ecosystem; (3) Cyber Capacity Building for the Stability and Security of the Digital Environment, and (4) Operationalizing Solutions for Safeguarding Development from Digital Risks and Threats.
After establishing the context and background related to the conference, the program shifted to its main purpose: elevating middle- and low-income country and donor perspectives to emphasize why CCB should be seen as a paramount element of digital development. This section featured six speakers:
- Constance Malomo, Botswana Ministry of Communications, Knowledge and Technology
- Kerry-Ann Barrett, OAS CyberSecurity Program Manager and the OAS’s GFCE Liaison
- Joanna LaHaie, US Department of State
- Isaac Morales, Mexico Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Tupou’tuah Baravilala, Fiji Ministry of Communications
- Laura Burr, Australia Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Constance Malomo was the first speaker to take the floor, reflecting on why CCB is critical to Botswana’s digital development. She emphasized that the Government of Botswana is prioritizing CCB so that their citizens understand that information and communications technologies (ICTs) are not something to be feared but to be understood.
She was followed by Kerry-Ann Barrett from the OAS, who highlighted the role of cyber resilience in development efforts across Latin America and the Caribbean. Specifically, she noted how it is not enough to merely transform governments and manifest online services. On the contrary, she underscored, it is also fundamental that governments ensure they are cyber resilient and have sufficient cyber capacity – including but not limited to human expertise and resources – to respond when attacks occur. Crucial to realizing this is coordination, which she affirmed is difficult to achieve both globally as well as regionally within Latin America and the Caribbean given the varied starting points and resources of different countries; thus, managing to avoid duplication, collaborate, and share efforts is critical.
Following Barrett’s intervention was Joanna LaHaie from the U.S. Department of State who reiterated the U.S. Government’s support for cyber capacity building as it pertains to development and creating a more secure cyberspace. Specifically, LaHaie stressed the importance of ensuring that, while everyone should be able to benefit from technology, we must also recognize the need to defend from and respond to the threats those technologies foster.
Next, Isaac Morales from the Government of Mexico focused on the relationship between cybersecurity and resilience regarding Mexico’s sustainable development efforts – and how they are intrinsically linked. Drawing from their experience, he echoed Barrett’s remarks by emphasizing the high value and importance of building capacity internationally and regionally, while also including CCB and cyber resilience within the innovation agenda of countries at the national level.
The event then moved on to Tupou’tuah Baravilala who underscored why cybersecurity and digital development go hand-in-hand among small island developing states (SIDS), such as in Fiji, where they are also contending with other challenges and threats to their resilience and development, notably climate change and natural disasters. She also reiterated how the main goal of building cyber capacities is to close the digital divide and ensure a level playing field among all countries as much as possible.
Lastly, it concluded with Laura Burr who highlighted Australia’s commitment to and interest in making the conference a success, especially as it relates to involving more women around the world in cyber-related discourse, empowering them to be cyber resilient, and expand their cyber capabilities.
The event wrapped up with some closing words from the GFCE’s Chris Painter and Pavlina Pavlova, who represented GC3B co-organizer CyberPeace Institute, to answer questions about the conference, address some of the intended outcomes, and invite interested parties to get more involved. They also stressed the importance of obtaining feedback from the community regarding the GC3B, as community involvement and endorsement is paramount to its success.
For more information, follow the #GC3B hashtag and register for updates at: https://gc3b.org. You can also see a full recap of the event by following the OEWG hashtag #UNCyberOEWG or check out the recording of the livestream here. If you have any questions, please reach out to Michael J. Oghia, GC3B Communications Coordinator, at: firstname.lastname@example.org.