What is Cyber Capacity Building?

Those activities that contribute to the objective of strengthening a nation’s cyber resilience through a dynamic process of building, learning, training and equipping. It is dynamic, as short, medium and long-term needs and interests of stakeholders evolve over time.

These activities can focus on developing the competences and capabilities of individuals, groups, organisations, sectors and/or countries.

There is a tendency, generally and globally, to pivot cyber capacity building to cybersecurity capacity building.

Cyber is a relatively unexplored terrain for the Pacific but a growing number of countries recognise risks emanating from the use and adoption of ICTs in technical, informational and policy areas alongside socio-economic considerations.

Therefore, cyber issues in the Pacific have a broad and multi-dimensional remit as illustrated as follows:

Cyber as a development theme.

In the 2010 Tonga Declaration, the Pacific ICT Ministers declared their commitment to use ICTs as a tool towards development, governance and sustainable livelihood. They also endorsed the concept of ‘many partners, one team’ in reference to a more coherent and coordinated approach to ICT development.

ICTs and cyber tools have become a key element in international aid strategies and have transpired into program around eHealth, e-Education and e-Governance at the same time, many Pacific Island countries have made a start with their digital transformation trajectories.

Cyber as a security theme. In the 2018 Boe Declaration, Pacific Island Forum leaders, for the first time, recognised cybersecurity as a regional security issue; next to human security to protect the rights, health and prosperity of Pacific people; environmental and resource security; and transnational crime.

Cyber as an infrastructure theme. The predominant focus of ICT discussions in the Pacific has so far been on infrastructure issues: connecting Pacific Islands to the global network of fibre-optic communication cables, while expanding the coverage of broadband satellites. On the ground, most Pacific Island countries have laid foundational infrastructure such as government networks, data centres etc.

Cyber as a socio-economic theme. Affordable access and universal access are recurring themes around ICTs and cyber. Affordability and inclusiveness were key themes during the Vanuatu-hosted Asia-Pacific Regional IGF (APrIGF) where issues around resilience, community awareness and e-safety were raised. In the context of economic development and ease of doing business in the Pacific, the PIF Secretariat is working on a Pacific e-Commerce Strategy and Roadmap for 2021 as part of the Pacific Aid-for-Trade Strategy 2025.