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Cyber Capacity Building Collaborative Transformation: Good practice from the Dominican Republic 
This article takes a look on lessons from the Dominican Republic on how capacity building endeavours are enhanced if the recipient country adopts and replicates delivered trainings to engage wider local audience.
Cybersecurity is an essential condition for modern civilizations. The World Economic Forum estimates that approximately one million people go online for their first time each day, and two-thirds of the global population own a mobile device. According to this same organization cyber attacks – given their destructive capacity – can be classified among major global risks, capable of affecting international stability and security. The growing ability for this type of attacks to cause real damage is a major concern for countries around the world.
The advantage of digital technologies brings immense economic and societal benefits. However risks related to cybersecurity can have harmful effects on national security, critical national infrastructures that can obstruct achieving these economic and political objectives.
In this context, countries retain primary responsibility for national security and the protection of their citizens. This includes taking the necessary actions to foster a safer cyberspace in which the necessary measures are implemented for the reliable development of productive and recreational activities for their population, within the framework of respect for Human Rights in the digital environment.
Securing the cyber domain through cybersecurity capacity building activities is fundamental as it contributes to reducing the digital divide and mitigating cyber risks.
However, many countries, particularly low and middle income ones, are faced with a shortage in technical capacity for monitoring and assessing ICT incidents and vulnerabilities, legislative measures as well as economic and human capacity to protect citizens from cyber-attacks.
Taking all this into account, the European Union decided to set up an EU Cyber Capacity Building Network (EU CyberNet) to mobilize the collective expertise of EU Member States for EU-funded external cyber capacity building programs, support effective coordination of EU-funded external cyber capacity building activities, and increase training opportunities.
The network connects EU cybersecurity experts, national competent organizations and the EU’s ongoing and future efforts in cyber capacity building, while also improving coordination and achieving a better overview of the EU-wide expertise in the area of increasing importance for any country.
EU CyberNet began its collaboration with the Dominican Republic in 2020 through different Cyber Capacity Building activities. One of these activities was the Executive Seminar on Cybersecurity and Digital Society (Seminario Ejecutivo sobre Ciberseguridad y Sociedad digital – CIDI) that took place from 20-22 July 2021 in Santo Domingo.
This seminar allowed politicians and high-level leaders from the public sector, representatives of the legislative branch, from the private sector (such as representatives of business associations), journalists and key opinion leaders to gain insight into current and emerging cyber challenges and learn how to manage an efficient, transparent and secure digital environment.
During the 2 iterations of the seminar, around 50 participants had the opportunity to benefit from lectures and interactions with experienced specialists and recognized professionals from the Dominican Republic and the EU, covering topics such as:
Technological development and its repercussions on societies
Dominican Republic’s Digital Agenda
Cybersecurity Legal framework
Cyber threats, motives and impact of cyber attacks
How to deter and build resilience and cyber crisis management
International collaboration and international law
The seminar was considered a success having achieved the goal of establishing a base line for interactions between the National Cybersecurity Center (CNCS) and the diverse high-level stakeholders in the Dominican Republic.
Empowered by institutional support by both the Ministry pf the Presidency and FORTINET, the CNCS went on to apply the lessons learned from CIDI to co-host two more seminars using the content and techniques provided by the EU CyberNet.
The first of these seminars was the Dominican Republic Cybersecurity Forum held on 31 August 2021 in Santo Domingo. This seminar was attended by more than 60 participants and included topics such as the Context and Panorama of Cyber Threats in the Dominican Republic, the Cybersecurity legal framework and Advances in Response to Cyber Incidents.
The seminar also included a panel of experts which touched upon the subject of “Challenges, plans and best practices for industries”. One of the main conclusions of the panel that was heavily echoed by the media was the need to create a national cybersecurity culture to better deal with cyber-vulnerabilities of a country.
The second of these events was the Cybersecurity Culture and Technological Innovation Forum held on 30 November 2021 in Santiago de los Caballeros. On this occasion, in addition to the topics previously discussed in the first seminar, this event also focused on what have been the challenges faced by industries under the new normality of the COVID-19 Pandemic, what innovations have been implemented to mitigate these risks, and what educational and cultural projects in relation to cybersecurity are being carried out in the country.
This seminar counted with more than 70 participants and gathered significant media attention: the seminar served as a space to promote a dialogue between sectors and industries to assess how to combat cybersecurity challenges in the country and continue promoting a national technological agenda that promotes greater awareness of cybersecurity.
The experiences detailed here are a living example of what Collett and Barmpaliou signal as Collaborative Transformation where there has been both significant growth in investment and much improved coordination. Professionalization improves as a result of increased funding and in line with the improved coordination. A broad range of communities deepen their engagement in capacity building, and the development community in particular engages more.
Here we can see that the Dominican Government has seized the opportunities brought on by the EU CyberNet in their cyber capacity building activities, not only learning from the examples and good practices of its network of experts, but adapted them into the local context, formed alliances with both private sector, academia and media to further the discussion of the importance of cybersecurity and digital transformation on a national level.
Of course, there are many more challenges that must be overcome before the Dominican Republic can be considered a global cyber power. However, the experiences laid out here, as well as many other examples from recent times point out that we are not only able to benefit from cooperation in cyber capacity building, but can also serve as a platform for others to learn from us.
 This document has been prepared by César Moliné Rodríguez and Carlos Leonardo Garcia. The points of view here expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Dominican Government.
 Collett, Robert and Barmpaliou, Nayia “International Cyber Capacity Building: Global Trends and Scenarios”, coordinated by Dr Patryk Pawlak, Brussels Executive Officer (EUISS) and Ondrej Vosatka, Policy Officer (FPI). PDF ISBN 978-92-9462-044-6
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