Global Conference on Cyber Capacity Building: A Nexus of Innovation and Collaboration for Cyber Resilience in Development

Francesca Bosco

The rapid expansion of cyberspace in today’s world has made digital resilience essential for sustainable development, yet still disregarded, particularly in certain critical sectors where cybersecurity infrastructure is given secondary consideration. Bringing this into attention, together with Global Forum on Cyber Expertise (GFCE), the World Bank and the World Economic Forum, the Institute organized the Global Conference on Cyber Capacity Building (GC3B) in hosted by the Government of Ghana in Accra.

Under the theme of  “Cyber Resilience for Development, GC3B has been a first-of-its-kind gathering of leaders, decision-makers, and experts to catalyze global action to elevate and mainstream cyber resilience and capacity building in the international development agenda, national development plans and investments as key enablers of sustainable development, inclusive economic growth, and social prosperity for all.

Out of an intense and deeply insightful two-day conference, we would like to share a few highlights. First, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy we organized a high-level panel titled “Connection in Progress: Cyber Resilience, Development and International Security” with remarks from Ambassador Nathaniel Fick, Mr. Tingika Elikana, Associate Minister from the Cook Islands, Ms. Nyirenda-Jere Towela, Principal Programme Officer at NEPAD, and Ms. Meremine Auelua, Programme Director in the Pacific Partnerships at CERT NZ. The discussion focused on he importance of taking international security seriously when considering opportunities for digital development: Mr. Elikana highlighted the necessity of educating stakeholders as a collective responsibility;  Ambassador Fick stressed the importance of mainstreaming cybersecurity policy the same way as we do digital or any other policies; Ms. Auelua and  Ms. Nyirenda-Jere reminded the need to build strong engagement with diverse partners and invest more in awareness raising. Learning from their distinguished experience several initiatives were proposed in the session to forge connections between these three pillars while being in line with the UN Sustainable Developments Goals.

Second, we exchanged experiences and challenges faced by cyber poor environments. Under the title “Volunteerism and Other Innovative Approaches to Building Skills in Cyber-Poor Environments” and with our esteemed speakers Mr. Maurice Kent, Program Coordinator at Digital APEX, USAID, Ms. Laura Temesi, Head of Cyber Partnerships and Communications at Standard Chartered, Mr. Derek Asamoah-Amoyaw, Senior IT Infrastructure Engineer at Agamal and Ms. Silja-Madli Ossip, Policy Officer at EU CyberNet, the conversation brought to light the risk of cyber threats and the impact of attacks in settings where there is a shortage of resources in the field. The panel outlined innovative methods such as skill-based volunteering which have proved their effectiveness in helping nonprofit organizations, like our CyberPeace Builders program, under which we are currently assisting 200+ NGOs via 655+ volunteers from 45 different companies. Part of our program, Ms. Temesi elaborated on the cyber talent gap and how it can be decreased with Standard Chartered’s innovative programmes. Then, Mr. Asamoah-Amoyw shared Agamal’s work and his experience in building cyber capacity in an NGO. Mr. Kent then described USAID’s Digital APEX initiative and Ms. Ossip presented how EU CyberNet builds on EU cyber expertise to help non-EU countries build cyber capacity.  

As civil society co-organizers of GC3B, we aimed at leveraging this key event to continue strengthening civil society organizations’ (CSO) connection and collaboration. In collaboration with the GFCE Advisory Board, we hosted a meeting for CSOs to discuss meaningful engagement in and the impact of cyber capacity building, with a focus on better leveraging multistakeholder engagement opportunities and the key role CSOs play in raising awareness and in surfacing capacity building needs. 

Furthermore, the Institute is proud to have participated in the Cybercrime Stakeholder Initiative coordinated by the UNODC Civil Society Unit. In the GC3B margins, the UNODC Civil Society Unit (CSU), in close partnership with the Institute, the International Chamber of Commerce, and Microsoft, organized a side event to discuss the importance of multistakeholder contributions in the implementation of the future Cybercrime Convention. Cybercrime oftentimes targets vulnerable entities, including development NGOs, that lack cybersecurity maturity to protect themselves effectively. We used this opportunity to stress the value of a human-centred approach and emphasized that the Convention must improve access to justice for cybercrime victims.

At the end of the inaugural GC3B, our dedication to enhancing digital resilience will never diminish. More than 45+ governments and organizations have supported the key outcome document, the Accra Call for Cyber Resilient Development. The CyberPeace Institute is committed to continue tracing and analysing cyberattacks, the evolving threat landscape and the enhanced risks and threats brought by emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI)  to increase knowledge and awareness of their societal impact, via our Cyber Incident Tracers platforms and upcoming CyberPeace Watch. We will keep on supporting cyber capacity building of the most vulnerable communitie and prepare them in facing all the emerging technologies especially AI and quantum computing via our CyberPeace Academy

Stay tuned for the next GC3B that will take place in Switzerland in 2025

Special thanks to Pavlina Pavlova, Murielle Abi Akar and all colleagues for their contribution and support. 

© Copyright 2023: The concepts and information contained in this document are the property of the CyberPeace Institute, an independent non-governmental organization headquartered in Geneva, unless indicated otherwise from time to time throughout the document. This document may be reproduced, in whole or in part, provided that the CyberPeace Institute is referenced as author and copyright holder.


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