From Awareness to Implementation

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From Awareness to Implementation

Report | 24-10-2018

The Global Forum on Cyber Expertise (GFCE) Annual Meeting 2018 took place from the 18th to the 20th of September alongside the Singapore International Cyber Week. This article describes GFCE developments and provides a summary of the Annual Meeting.

The development of the GFCE

The GFCE is an informal, bottom-up, global platform for countries, international organizations and private companies to exchange best practices and expertise on cyber capacity building. Together with partners from NGOs, the tech community and academia, GFCE members develop practical initiatives to build cyber capacity. The core objective of the GFCE is to identify successful policies, practices and ideas, and to multiply these on a global level.

In 2015 and 2016, the focus of the GFCE was to build and expand on a strong GFCE network, where Members and Partners know each other personally and know how to find each other. The platform started out with 42 Members from all over the world. Since then it has grown to 71 Members today. Additionally, 15 Partners and an Advisory Board joined the platform. Our Members and Partners cooperate on several initiatives. These initiatives are focused on different topics like awareness raising, CIIP, cybercrime training, and internet infrastructure, either with a global or with a regional focus.

On November 24th 2017, the GFCE community endorsed the Delhi Communiqué on a GFCE Global Agenda for Cyber Capacity Building, which prioritizes five themes in cyber capacity building and calls for action to jointly strengthen global cyber capacities in;

A. Cybersecurity policy and strategy;

B. Cyber incident management and critical infrastructure protection;

C. Cybercrime;

D. Cybersecurity culture and skills;

E. Cybersecurity standards;

Five Working Groups were set up, one for each theme. These Working Groups have been actively working towards the 2018 Annual Meeting. The figures below visualize the dynamics between stakeholders operating within the GFCE community.

Throughout the course of 2017, the GFCE conducted extensive research, consultations and discussions with its multi-stakeholder community to ensure that it supports global ambitions. The year 2018 marks a turning point, from the previous focus on cyber awareness, to a more practical approach on cyber capacity building. This shift provides the context of the Annual Meeting in Singapore. The following paragraphs include a summary of the content drawn from the official Annual Meeting 2018 Report.

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Annual Meeting summary

The Annual Meeting program included many speeches regarding the state of cyber capacity building across the world and the future plans for the GFCE.


Mr. Teo Chin Hock, representing the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore, sees an increase of interconnectivity, through for instance the internet of things (IoT), as a rising trend which holds tremendous potential for economic progress and the rise of living standards. Additional cybersecurity measures are needed to ensure safe usage of these technologies. The Secretary for the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology of India, Mr. Ajay Sawhney, explained that further internationalization of the GFCE and its Secretariat would be desired in order to enhance global trust in the cyber ecosystem. Ms. Carmen Gonsalves, representing the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, called for a ‘GFCE Foundation’ in the near future. Mr. David van Duren, Head of the GFCE Secretariat, described the internationalization process of the GFCE in his presentation. Furthermore, a panel discussion including representatives from the Organization of American States (OAS), the United States (US), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Microsoft and Australia focused on the future of global cyber capacity building.  

Panel discussions

Research partners like the GCSCC, ASPI, FIRST and DiploFoundation were represented in a panel on the CCB Knowledge Community. Here, the need for practical knowledge sharing within the community and the Working Groups were discussed. The panel also touched on a CCB Knowledge Portal. This portal will be a link between the input by experts and the need for cybersecurity insights from the broader community. Furthermore, CyberGreen, New America, Stanford University and EUISS conducted a panel discussing insights on cyber capacity building research and their value for the GFCE.

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‘Internet of Things’ roundtable session on Day 0 of the GFCE Annual Meeting 2018.

Working Group sessions

During the Annual Meeting, roundtable sessions with the Working Groups provided the GFCE community with the opportunity to comment on the process and to come up with new ideas for the future. Participants suggested, for instance, that the Working Groups could work on a harmonized agenda, that transparency could be increased and that the general public could be made more aware of their work. An increase in stakeholder diversity would also be appreciated.

These roundtable sessions led to the five Working Group Chairs to present their progress in one presentation on the next day. Some Working Groups envision themselves as matchmakers between needs and expertise on their topics. Some have divided the participants among taskforces, specializing in a subcategory of the Working Groups’ topic. Most Working Groups include the mapping of frameworks and initiatives around the world as one of their tasks. The main achievement of the Working Groups can be summarized as bringing together multiple stakeholders from different backgrounds to work together on specific topics. Find their story in the Annual Meeting Report.

Interactive activities

The second roundtable included GFCE Members and Partners to discuss the platform’s ‘next steps’. Here, the GFCE’s role as a clearinghouse was discussed, as well as the proposed GFCE Foundation and the announcements of regional liaisons. This should create an opportunity for increased involvement of regional stakeholders.


Furthermore, Ms. Alison Treppel presented the fifth edition of the Global Cyber Expertise Magazine, on behalf of the Organization of American States. She highlighted a selection of articles from the Magazine and handed out the physical editions. Its content can be found in the online edition of the Global Cyber Expertise Magazine Volume 5.

Ms. Gonsalves welcomed many new Members from Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Americas, and Partners including ASPI and CCSIRS and more. An overview of GFCE Members and Partners can be found on the website.

Ms. Rooba Y. Moorghen (Mauritius) and Mr. Partyk Pawlak (European Union Institute for Security Studies) presented the new Advisory Board which will engage with the GFCE community and stakeholders in the upcoming two years.

Finally, recurring items for each Annual Meeting are the showcases and initiatives, in which both the GFCE community as well as non-Members and Partners may present their projects. Here, attendees saw a range of stakeholders presenting nine showcases. These included ASPI, Cisco Systems, CTO, ITU, Microsoft, the World Bank, GCSCC, Deloitte, Siemens, India, Interpol, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

Moving forward

Now that the GFCE has positioned itself as a platform for international cooperation, it can begin with the implementation cyber capacity building efforts. The 2019 Annual Meeting was the first step in this stage of the cyber capacity building process. In short, visionaries shared their plans for the future. Participants were able to communicate their ideas at interactive sessions. Research now has a more visible role in the process. Initiatives from around the world were promoted. Most importantly, the GFCE Working Groups will shift into the next gear towards a clearing house for Cyber Capacity Building.

Nightly skyline of Singapore.

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The Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre hosted the 2018 Annual Meeting.

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