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Clearing House Coordinator/Global Partnerships Manager (UK FCDO)


UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office


September 2021 – March 2022

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Pacific regional meeting 2020

The GFCE Pacific Regional Meeting provided an opportunity for donors, project implementers and Pacific Island nations to discuss common goals, identify opportunities and challenges for cyber capacity building in the region. The meeting further provided an opportunity for the GFCE to listen and discuss ideas on how the GFCE could support future cyber capacity building initiatives in the region.

From the GFCE’s perspective the meeting identified two types of ‘gaps’ in the Pacific: gaps in specific areas of capacity building and opportunities to improve coordination and information sharing between Pacific Island countries, regional and international donors and implementers.

Stories from the Pacific – the human side of cyber incidents

The GFCE Pacific Hub organized a session at the Asia Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum (APrIGF) 2023 titled “Stories from the Pacific – the human side of cyber incidents.”

This session explored the impact of some cyber incidents, and discussed the challenges, risks and lessons learnt, with a particular focus on the human impact of these incidents. The human perspective is an often overlooked dimension of cyber incidents and thus the session focused on taking a look at on-the-ground, Pacific stories from recent cyber incidents, particularly from Tonga with contributions from the audience on the 2021 incident in Samoa. Drawing from the first-hand experiences of the speakers and seeking the views and perspectives from all those in the room, the session highlighted the human impact elements.

To empower pacific voices and stories at the APrIGF 2023, the GFCE sponsored the participation of Pelenita Milika Atoa, also known as Brenda, who has been a civil servant for the Government of Tonga for the past nineteen years, to participate as a speaker in the session. Brenda shares below her experience at APrIGF.

“Big malo aupito, meaning thank you so much to the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise (GFCE) for choosing and sponsoring me to be a part of this incredible event. It was an honor for me as a Pacific Islander and coming from a small island country to represent the Kingdom of Tonga as well as the rest of the Pacific Island Countries. I shared a story from the Kingdom of Tonga on the given topic “The human side of cyber incidents”. This was my first-ever APrIGF event and as a speaker, it was a splendid experience, and I appreciated all the support from the relevant stakeholders which made everything possible for me. It was good knowing that we have a session to represent the Pacific and to share from the perspective of the Pacific countries. I see a real need to have more sessions from the Pacific held at future APrIGF events.

The time allocated to hold the Pacific session during an APrIGF event is vital. Notwithstanding, there is a need for all delegates, both the Asia and Pacific delegates, to all attend to observe, understand and get on the same page with what is happening specifically in the Pacific countries. Why? We all know that the Asia context is somewhat different from the Pacific, Asia is larger than the Pacific and far more advanced with a speedy connection, more advanced technology, resources, and capacity whereas the Pacific does not have all of that, but they are more vulnerable to the threats. By saying that, more events led or organized by the Pacific at future APrIGF events is something that needs to be taken into consideration, and it will be relevant and helpful to the Pacific and a good learning to Asia and other involved countries.

Having the opportunity to join the PacIGF session on the 29th of August 2023 was another remarkable experience. The environment was totally different and the spirit in there was active with all the sharing and discussion from the participants based on what they have experienced in their various countries, and it was a good learning knowing the challenges and what are the way forwards to overcome those challenges.

To finish off I would like to share this quote, and it says: “The stronger the ties of fellowship and solidarity amongst men, the greater will be the power of constructiveness and accomplishment in all the planes of human activity.” “So powerful is the light of unity”, Bahá’u’lláh declares, “that it can illuminate the whole earth.”

About Brenda

Pelenita Milika Atoa, also known as Brenda, has been a civil servant for the Government of Tonga for the past nineteen years. Previously, she worked as an Assistant Licensing Inspector for 4 years, then was promoted to Senior Cooperative Assistant for 9 years and assistant secretary for 1 year, all in the Ministry of Trade and Economic Development. Brenda currently works for Tonga’s Computer Emergency Response Team that operates under the Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change, Communication and CERT as the Senior Engagement Officer leading our engagement and administration side for five years now.

In 2020, she was on a secondment program to the Interim Pacific Fusion Centre in Canberra, which was intended to last 3 months but due to COVID-19, she was locked down there for 10 months before returning home. Brenda is currently an executive Member of the Tonga Women in ICT – TWICT, a Get Safe Online Ambassador for Tonga as well as a Baha’i Faith Study Circle Cluster Coordinator and an Assistant Auxiliary Board Member for the Western District of Tongatapu.

Webinar: Pioneering of Gender Empowerment in High-Level Cyber Talks

This virtual assembly drew together over 40 participants from both the Pacific and Southeast Asia regions to set in motion a dynamic dialogue centered around women’s empowerment, equality, and inclusivity in shaping high-level cyber discourses and policies. 

The webinar opened with keynote remarks presented by Mr. Allan Cabanlong, Director of the GFCE Southeast Asia Hub. Allan emphasized the paramount importance of integrating women empowerment, equality, and inclusiveness into the core of cyber discussions. 

Allan was joined by several esteemed panelists of experts and thought leaders from various fields, all dedicated to advancing women’s empowerment and equality in the cyber domain: 

With the backdrop of the rapidly evolving digital landscape, the discussions honed in on the pivotal role that high-level deliberations play in molding policies and strategies governing cyberspace. It was underscored that for a sustainable and inclusive digital future, the imperatives of women empowerment, equality, and inclusiveness must be woven into the very fabric of these discussions. 

The discussion highlighted the inextricable link between gender diversity and the security of the digital ecosystem. Panelists illuminated how women’s involvement ushers in fresh perspectives, innovation, and resilience, making them crucial architect Partners of the cyber landscape. In this regard, Australia was heralded for its proactive stance on gender inclusivity within the two regions. The nation’s commitment to gender equality was exemplified in its role as regional donor for the Women in International Security and Cyberspace Fellowship – a joint program by the governments of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States, aimed at ensuring broader representation of women in United Nations negotiations on cyberspace. 

The necessity of collaboration for sustainable change was also highlighted in the discussions. It was agreed that advocating for policy shifts that promote gender equality and diversity in the tech and cybersecurity sector, in addition to working closely with policymakers to incorporate gender-responsive approaches, is crucial for the way forward for all regions.  

As the event drew to a close, Mr. Saia Vaipuna, Director of the GFCE Pacific Hub, delivered the closing remarks that encapsulated the shared aspirations of all the participants. His words resonated with the collective dedication and commitment to champion gender equality in cyber. 

In a world increasingly defined by digital transformation, it was agreed that women’s empowerment, equality, and inclusivity in shaping high-level cyber discourses and policies is critical.

Pacific nations unite to address cybersecurity challenges

Friday 4 August 2023: Government representatives and cyber sector leaders from across the globe will unite at the inaugural Pacific Cyber Capacity Building and Coordination Conference (P4C) held from 2 – 4 October 2023.

To be held in Nadi, Fiji, the P4C represents a new, coordinated approach to addressing and advancing cybersecurity capacity building (CCB) in the Pacific.

This unique capacity-building conference will provide an opportunity for key regional stakeholders to discuss the status of CCB, develop a structure to inform future strategies and agree on the appropriate approaches and policies to meet the region’s long-term objectives.

The conference is being jointly funded by Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States through the Partners in the Blue Pacific (PBP), a recently formed multilateral coordination mechanism designed to boost regional cooperation and deliver better results for the Pacific.

The P4C is being organised by Oceania Cyber Security Centre (OCSC) and the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise (GFCE), two trusted regional cybersecurity development partners with over a decade of combined experience advancing cybersecurity resilience in the Pacific.

Over the last10 years, cybersecurity has emerged as a strategic focus area for the Pacific. Along with technology and connectivity, it has been identified as a priority area for the region by the Pacific Islands Forum’s 2018 Boe Declaration on Regional Security and 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent. This has led to significant investments in CCB networks and programs; however, these have not always been successful.

“As the methods used to lift cybersecurity and resilience have evolved, the Pacific has started to transition to a new phase of CCB that is evidence-based and informed by the region’s unique context and needs,” said Cameron Boardman, Director, OCSC.

“We have developed the P4C in line with this focus and will use the event to highlight Pacific voices and experiences and provide stakeholders the opportunity to communicate their cybersecurity priorities directly to donor governments.”

The conference’s various sessions and workshops will explore best practice cyber governance, Pacific perspectives on regional CCB, and methods to improve CCB operational results.

Drawing on regional expertise, the P4C will ensure future CCB efforts are designed in the context of the Pacific and contribute to established regional objectives.

“The P4C aims to strengthen cooperation on cybersecurity between Pacific partners and establish a collaborative, best-practice approach to future CCB efforts,” said Saia Vaipuna, Pacific Hub Director, GFCE.

For more information on the P4C, please visit the P4C website or contact info@ocsc.com.au.

About the Oceania Cyber Security Centre

The Oceania Cyber Security Centre (OCSC) is a not-for-profit cybersecurity assessment, evaluation and research organisation that conducts evidence-based cybersecurity capacity building in the Indo-Pacific. Jointly owned by eight Victorian Universities, the OCSC is focused on building regional capabilities through a mix of national cybersecurity capacity assessments, independent evaluations, localised research, and educational programs.

About the Partners in the Blue Pacific

The Partners in the Blue Pacific (PBP) is a newly formed intergovernmental cooperation mechanism between the governments of Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States. The objective of the Partners in the Blue Pacific is to deliver results for the Pacific more effectively and efficiently, bolster Pacific regionalism, and expand opportunities for cooperation between the Pacific and the world.

About the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise

The Global Forum on Cyber Expertise (GFCE) strengthens international cooperation on cyber capacity building by connecting needs, resources and expertise and by making practical knowledge available to the global community. The current focus of the GFCE is three-fold: coordinating regional and global cyber capacity projects and initiatives; sharing knowledge and expertise by recommending tools and publications; and matching individual needs for cyber capacities to offers of support from the community as a clearing house function.

GFCE Pacific Hub continues engagement efforts in Samoa

Written by: Cherie Lagakali, GFCE Pacific Cyber Senior Advisor

Figure 1 Caption: (L-R) Fonoti Sakuma (SamCERT), Saia Vaipuna (GFCE Pacific Hub Director), Honorable Minister Toelupe Poumulinuku Onesome, Cherie Lagakali (GFCE Pacific Cyber Senior Advisor)

The GFCE Pacific Hub team continues its community engagements and visiting of the different Pacific Island countries and this week are in Samoa to make courtesy calls on high level officials as well as meeting operational teams from government agencies, non-government organisations and the private sector. On Monday, the team were honoured to have been given an opportunity to make a courtesy call on the Minister for Telecommunication, Information Technology of Samoa, Afioga Toelupe Poumulinuku Onesome.

Honorable Afioga Toelupe Poumulinuku Onesome shared with the team his support for the objectives and goals that the hub aims to achieve in the region. He added that it was encouraging to see a Pacific team made up of fellow Pacific islanders from the region, highlighting that being this close to home brought that sense of family and sharing with an understanding of each other. He pointed out the need for cyber capacity building efforts to be in our own context with a Pacific flavour.

Figure 2 Caption: CEO Ministry of Communication & Information Technology Lefaoali’i Unutoa Auelua-Fonoti welcoming visiting Trustwave & GFCE Pacific teams

While in Samoa, the Pacific Hub Team through its facilitative role will be joining other key partners CERT NZ, Trustwave and the Samoa Information Technology Society (SITA) for Cyber Smart Samoa. The week-long event comprises of trainings for the technical community to collaborate on how to stay safe online. There will also be a hackathon where the winner will develop the SamCERT website.

Figure 3 Caption: GFCE Pacific Hub Team with Assistant CEO ICT Division Samoa Police, Angelo Chan Mow & Timothy Komiti from Digital Forensics Team

The GFCE Pacific Hub team visits Tonga

The GFCE Pacific Hub team this week made a courtesy call to the Prime Minister of Tonga, Hon. Hu’akavameiliku as the Minister responsible for Digital Transformation  and a champion of many cyber initiatives  in the wider Pacific region. The GFCE Pacific Hub was represented by the Director, Mr. Siosaia Vaipuna who will be based In Tonga and the Senior Advisor Pacific Cyber Policy and Communications, Cherie Lagakali from Fiji.   

The GFCE is a multi-stakeholder community with over 170 members and partners globally comprising of governments, non-governmental organisations, civil society, private sector and academia. The GFCE aims to strengthen cyber capacity building (CCB) and expertise globally through cooperation and coordination through, inter alia, the GFCE Working Groups, Clearing House function, Global CCB Research Agenda, Cybil Knowledge Portal, and practical GFCE initiatives. 

The GFCE endeavours to be a pragmatic, action-orientated and flexible platform for international collaboration, reducing overlap and duplication of efforts in the cyber capacity building to ensure an open, free, peaceful and secure digital world. 

At the GFCE’s first regional meeting held in Melbourne in February 2020, the Pacific community voiced the need for a GFCE presence in the Pacific to achieve the aforementioned goals and to recognise that the Pacific has a unique culture and its challenges should be taken into consideration when designing and implementing CCB initiatives which led to the establishment of the GFCE Pacific Hub.

One of the first tasks of the Hub is to establish and maintain close relationships with stakeholders of cyber capacity building in the region while raising awareness among Pacific Island countries of the Hub’s existence and objectives as well as taking stock of past and present CCB initiatives in the Pacific.  

While in Tonga this week, the Pacific Hub team also met with high level officials and operational staff from government entities, NGOs and the private sector.  In welcoming the Pacific Hub team, the Prime Minister Hon. Hu’akavameiliku invited them  to set up office in Tonga as several other international organisations had done recently.  The representatives of the GFCE Pacific Hub appreciate the opportunity afforded by Hon. Hu’akavameiliku.

The GFCE looks to the Pacific!

News Article | 27 October 2020

The GFCE has appointed Cherie Lagakali as the GFCE’s first Pacific Liaison. This role and appointment follows the GFCE’s first Pacific Regional Meeting, held in Melbourne in February 2020 and in the margins of the OCSC-GCSCC 2020 Global Cybersecurity Capacity Building Conference.

The GFCE Pacific Regional Meeting provided an opportunity for donors, project implementers and Pacific Island nations to discuss common goals, identify opportunities and challenges for cyber capacity building in the region. The meeting further provided an opportunity for the GFCE to listen and discuss ideas on how the GFCE could support future cyber capacity building initiatives in the region.

Image 1: Participants at the first GFCE pacific regional Meeting


From the GFCE’s perspective the meeting identified two types of ‘gaps’ in the Pacific:  gaps in specific areas of capacity building and opportunities to improve coordination and information sharing between Pacific Island countries, regional and international donors and implementers.

An article on the GFCE Pacific Regional Meeting and the core themes that emerged can be found on pg. 42 of the 7th edition of the Global Cyber Expertise Magazine.

To address the two gaps identified, the GFCE has now launched a short scoping assessment for a future GFCE Pacific Hub, led by Cherie Lagakali as the new GFCE Pacific Liaison. The broad aims of a future Hub will be to:

Importantly any GFCE Pacific Hub must look to fill a gap, rather than replicate or duplicate existing regional mechanisms and structures in the Pacific. A Hub will be responsible for supporting Pacific Island countries, as well as advising local regional/international donors on Pacific Island needs and coordinating with existing regional structures and mechanisms, rather than attempting to replicate them.

The success of any future Hub will be twofold – (i) ensuring a Hub is about the Pacific and works for Pacific Island countries and (ii) galvanises Implementers and Donors, in the Pacific region, to coordinate and share information on their local investment, skills and CCB (Cyber Capacity Building) programmes.

In taking up the role of GFCE Pacific Liaison, Cherie outlines that her role will be to:

“Work with the Pacific to develop a GFCE Hub that is designed by the Pacific and for the Pacific. A Hub that will assist in improving coordination, collaboration, knowledge sharing, and transparency among Pacific Island nations and between Pacific Island nations, regional donors, and implementers. The GFCE must avoid just being another additional actor in an already crowded field and will aim to design a Hub that efficiently and effectively meets the needs of the Pacific; providing tangible, meaningful, and operational cyber capacity building support for the region.”

Image 2: Cherie Lagakali, GFCE Pacific Liaison


GFCE Job Application: Pacific Liaison

News Item | 25 August 2020

The Global Forum on Cyber Expertise (GFCE) is looking to appoint a GFCE Pacific Liaison. This Liaison will look to scope, analyze, and recommend the design of a future GFCE Pacific Hub.

The deadline for applications is 7 September 2020.

Service Contract


The final fee for this service will be competitive, taking into consideration a contractor’s expertise and experience. The final fee will not exceed NZD $99,000 + travel (transport) expenses in the Pacific region up to NZD $7,000, over the contract’s duration.


It is expected that the implementation of this contract requires a maximum of 95 days. Indicative start date is 22 September 2020. The absolute end date for the delivery of services is 12 February 2021.

Please kindly see more information about the position below:

GFCE Pacific Liaison



Established in 2015, the GFCE is a multi-stakeholder community of more than 120 members and partners consisting of governments, international organizations, companies, academia, and project implementers from all regions of the world. Its mission is to strengthen cyber capacity and expertise globally by being a pragmatic, action-orientated, and flexible platform for international collaboration. The GFCE delivers its mission through coordination to avoid duplication of efforts and blind spots; knowledge sharing to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of projects; serve as a Clearing House to connect requests for cyber capacity building assistance with offers of support, and identifying and filling knowledge gaps with the development of a global Cyber Capacity Building (CCB) Research Agenda. More information can be found via www.thegfce.org.

The GFCE Pacific Hub

In February 2020, the GFCE hosted its first Pacific conference in Melbourne, to consult the region on its cyber capacity building needs and opportunities. The meeting identified two main priorities in cyber capacity building. The first was to balance investment efforts across the broad spectrum of cyber needs in the region (i.e., lots of repeated activities around introductions to CERT training, and less in cybercrime or standards). The second priority was to improve coordination, knowledge sharing and transparency among Pacific Island nations, and between Pacific Island nations, regional donors, and implementers. A report of this conference can be found here.

Recognizing these two priorities, the GFCE now aims to scope in detail the viability, structure, and role of a future GFCE Pacific Hub. Due in large part to the time difference and limited resources, it’s a challenge to reach the Pacific region from Europe where the GFCE core team is located.

An outline GFCE Pacific Hub proposal has been written, with two clear success factors: (i) ensuring the Hub is about the Pacific and for the Pacific; and (ii) being able to provide tangible, meaningful, and operational cyber capacity-building support for the region. The following initial aims have also been set for a Hub:

The key stakeholders for Pacific Hub are the 22 Pacific Island nations; international and regional cyber capacity building ‘donor’ governments, development agencies, NGOs – private industry (including telco’s)- and ‘implementers’ of ICT development projects.


The Pacific Liaison will lead the GFCE’s Secretariat’s scoping, analysis, and design of a GFCE Pacific Hub, evaluating the efficacy, structure, objectives, and resources of a future GFCE Pacific Hub. The Liaison, along with GFCE Secretariat, will provide a clear investment recommendation to the GFCE Foundation Fund and relevant international donors to support a future GFCE Pacific Hub.

To support this recommendation, the Liaison will develop a complete three-year full project and investment proposal, complete with project plan and results framework, to be submitted to the GFCE Foundation Board, while building in enough flexibility to adapt operations to changing circumstances or unexpected opportunities.

The Liaison will need to be permanently based in the Pacific region, leading engagement with a diversity of stakeholders across government, industry, wider society, and academia; in addition to appropriate desk-based research. This engagement will largely be conducted virtually, due to local and regional travel restrictions imposed by COVID 19. The Liaison will need to have access to the following virtual platforms: ‘Microsoft Teams’, ‘Zoom’, and ‘GotoMeeting’. Where physical travel between Pacific Island countries is open, the Liaison (in prior agreement with the GFCE) will be encouraged to travel to engage stakeholders.

Duties and Responsibilities 

– Lead outreach engagement with the following four core stakeholder groups:


– The purpose of engaging with each of these stakeholder groups will be to:

– Conduct desk-based research on regional organizations offering cyber capacity building policy, programme and/or investment support in the Pacific region, to map gaps and opportunities for a GFCE Pacific Hub to fill. This desk-based research will further need to take account of completed national cybersecurity capacity assessments and reviews in the region.

– Review options for the proposed delivery model of a GFCE Pacific Hub, ensuring ‘Value for Money’ in design.

– Lead, with support from the GFCE Secretariat, the drafting of a full GFCE Pacific Hub project and investment proposal, complete with project plan and indicative results framework.

– Present the final project and investment proposal for a GFCE pacific Hub to the GFCE Foundation Board and select the international donor community.

– Report and advise on any immediate cyber capacity needs and/or quick wins identified as a result of the scoping phase.

The Pacific Liaison will be provided with a comprehensive stakeholder list of the beneficiary, donor, and implementer actors in the Pacific region.

The Pacific Liaison will report directly to the Senior Adviser in the GFCE, leading outreach in the Pacific. The Liaison will further be responsible for keeping GFCE Advisory Board members, based in the Pacific region, consulted on engagement.


The appointed Pacific Liaison will be responsible for delivering the following:


Candidate profile: requirements, qualifications, and skills

The successful candidate will have:



Place of Employment 

Nonresident, but based in the Oceania region.

How to Apply 

Please send a cover letter addressed to a GFCE Secretariat Director, with your motivation in applying for the role, plus your CV (in English) by 07/09/2020 to contact@thegfce.org. Interviews will be conducted between 11/09/2020 and 15/09/2020. Please ensure references are included on your CV as a reference check could be part of the selection procedure. Please note that relocation assistance will not be provided.

For more information on this job opportunity, please contact Thomas Jordan, Senior Adviser to the GFCE, via contact@thegfce.org.

The GFCE is an equal opportunities employer and accepts applications without distinction on the grounds of age, race, political, philosophical or religious conviction, sex or sexual orientation and regardless of disabilities, marital status or family situation.