Towards cyber development goals: implementing global norms

30 Nov 2022 08:15h - 09:45h

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Every nation’s progress has become inextricably linked to the development of cyberspace, which has opened up vast opportunities and enabled everything: from distance study to innovation to social and economic advancement. Modern economic and social progress must be supported by a digital infrastructure that is secure, reliable, and inclusive. To achieve this everywhere, it is essential to close the digital divide and to eliminate disparities and socioeconomic gaps between those with access to digital services and those without it, especially now that just over half of the world’s population is online. Rapid digitisation can, however, bring with it collateral dangers, particularly in low and middle-income nations that may not have sufficient cyber resilience against continuously emerging digital threats. Such threats hamper the achievement of the SDGs, highlighting the tension between the requirement for digital transformation and the absence of a robust cybersecurity posture.

While most states and international organisations have affirmed that international law and the UN Charter apply to the use of information and communication technologies and established norms for responsible state behaviour, translating such agreements into feasible actions is still overdue. There is a need to mainstream cybersecurity capacity building (CCB) into broader development efforts. In this context, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has launched the discussion over the agreement and adoption of the Cybersecurity Development Goals (CDGs). These represent a set of aspirational and feasible goals with the aim to close the digital divide, increase resilience by fostering access to digital transformation, and enable the implementation of international law and norms to curtail malicious cyber activities.

For this to be achieved, two elements and aspects need to be considered: the role of multistakeholderism and how it is implemented, and the creation of trust in the processes. While it is agreed that a multistakeholder approach is needed, it is essential to start properly answering questions over the selection of stakeholders’ representatives and their actual and proper involvement in the activities. There are already important existing multistakeholder frameworks; however, there is a great number of stakeholders that could be contributing more and they do not know where to start or how to engage. In other words, it is essential to give stakeholders meaningful representation and include those stakeholders that are currently missing from cybersecurity discussions, namely development actors.

Furthermore, attention should be focused on the role of individuals. Cybersecurity development goals need to cut across every aspect of our lives. Individuals need to understand how cybersecurity affects them and how they can contribute to a safe and secure cyberspace. This final point forms the necessary link between cyber-capacity building and sustainable development: you have to build trust in the process through cyber resilience to ensure individuals and all actors work toward the success of such processes.

The rise in digitalisation leads towards a rise in cyber-interdependence and brings up cybersecurity issues more than ever. The role of international law, norms, confidence building measures, and capacity-building measures should be the four pillars leading global cybersecurity efforts for which political endorsement is key. Finally, cyber-development goals can be achieved through trust, inclusivity, agency, collective actions, partnership, collaboration, and engagement with all stakeholders.

By Stefania Grottola