EU’s competence centre for Latin America and Caribbean opened its doors in Dominican Republic with a regional conference
On Thursday, 26 May, the Latin America and Caribbean Cyber Competence Centre (LAC4) was officially launched with an inauguration conference, taking place at CENTRO INDOTEL in Santo Domingo. LAC4 – a project lead by EU CyberNet and funded by the European Union – will contribute to improving cybersecurity education and skills, enhancing interoperability competencies, cyberspace capabilities, research and development, and creating national cybersecurity standards in Latin America and Caribbean countries.
The Conference and LAC4 Competence Centre was opened by a video message from the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, followed by a keynote speech from the Ambassador of the EU in the Dominican Republic Katja Afheldt. The opening also featured video greetings from the Estonian President Alar Karis and the Minister of the Presidency Lisandro Macarrulla.
In his video message Josep Borrell highlighted the European Union’s intensified digital cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean, and the need to integrate cybersecurity considerations. “LAC4 is a proof of the EU’s commitment to cooperate and enhance partnership with the LAC countries – based on our shared values” noted Mr Borrell, and added that being the first such regional cyber competence centre set up by the EU, it speaks of the remarkable achievements of the countries in the region in digitalization.
The Ambassador of the EU Ms Afheldt added that “The Dominican Republic is the ideal country to be at the centre of this cooperation and coordination, being a bridge between Europe and the region and as a bridge between the Caribbean and Latin America. Not only because of its geographical location and its Caribbean and Latin identity at the same time, but also because of the way in which the country is committed and determined to advance digitalisation in all economic, governmental and social areas.”
“Sharing knowledge and experiences is critical internationally. Estonia is ready to help others to build digital resilience, including through the EU CyberNet project” concluded the President of Estonia, Alar Karis.
“In order to achieve a unified effort, LAC4 will share its facilities with the Operations Centre of the National Cybersecurity Centre, to strengthen both capacity-building initiatives, as well as those for responding cyber incidents,” said Carlos Leonardo, Director of the National CSIRT of the Dominican Republic.
Inaugural conference sets the collaboration in motion
The inaugural conference that started this week is aimed at policymakers, diplomats, and the technical community of the Latin American and Caribbean region to examine the challenges in cybersecurity, identify the gaps in training in order to find the corresponding solutions and also, to examine opportunities for cross-border collaboration to support equity, security and sustainable digital transformation in the region.
The conference has four panels with high-level experts around the world sharing insights on the needs and challenges of cybersecurity awareness and training, workforce development and means of supporting cybersecurity maturity development in the LAC region to bridge the existing gaps in cybersecurity capacities. Conference’s agenda can be found here (link).
“World-wide digitalisation is gearing up and gathering more and more momentum. Societies are benefiting from the digital revolution. That also means that we depend more on technologies and have to mitigate risks. Digitalisation and cyber security have to develop and evolve hand in hand, otherwise our growth could be mangled by cybercriminals. It is great that we all see it as a challenge and are working together to alleviate it. LAC4 is another great example of that. LAC4 will be an important avenue to build collaboration between the EU and the LAC region,” said Minister Macarrulla.
Throughout the inauguration week the LAC4 is hosting various expert seminars to enhance cyber awareness and boost cyber capacities in the region, such as Information Security training for CISOs, National Cybersecurity Strategy Implementation Seminar in collaboration with the EU Cyber4Dev project and Cyber Awareness training for diplomats, organised in cooperation with the EU Delegation to the Dominican Republic.
The LAC4 inauguration week is the result of joint efforts by the European Union and the Government of the Dominican Republic, namely the EU CyberNet project implemented by Estonian Information System Authority, the Ministry of the Presidency and the Dominican Institute of Telecommunications, and the EU Delegation to the Dominican Republic.
In conclusion, this week marks a milestone in the cyber capacity building scene in the Americas region, which will contribute to an open, interoperable, secure, and reliable cyberspace.
LAC4’s aim and goals
LAC4 started operating in October of 2021 and its mission is to enhance cyber capacities in the LAC region through specialized trainings and consultations. The Centre will strengthen practical collaboration in the region and with the European Union (EU).
LAC4 will be also delivering training and expertise using the skills available at the EU CyberNet expert pool, in collaboration with other EU projects and initiatives, regional organisations, global donors and implementers.
Margus Noormaa, the Director General of Estonian Information System Authority (RIA), sees this project has a great way to share knowledge. “We do not have to learn from our own mistakes, we can learn from others as well. I encourage countries in the LAC region to pool and share their resources through the Centre to maximize the use of scarce resources, build stronger resilience and interoperability across the region to support digital transformation projects.”