REMARKS: SG Puna keynote to Pacific Cyber Capacity building, Coordination Conference

Remarks and Speeches
02 October 2023

Pacific islands Forum

 Secretary General Henry Puna

Keynote Address:



Monday, 2 October 2023

Sheraton, Port Denarau, Fiji




The Hon. Manoa Kamikamica, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Communication of the Republic of Fiji,

Representatives of Pacific Governments,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for the opportunity to share some reflections this morning.

I have just returned from the United States, where we had a successful mission at the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly, as well as the 2ndS – PIF Summit just last week.

A clear sentiment that has emerged from the discussions over the last two weeks is the recognition that while the digital evolution has presented many opportunities, in particular, for Island States such as ours, the challenges and complexities that come with the digital evolution, require specialised capacities to manage it.

Indeed, I am confident that we all recognise and welcome the increased level of support and capacity development in this area across the region.

However, in order for partnerships to be successful, they must be targeted, coherent and effective.

Which brings us to the focus of this very conference.

Cybercrimes are an increasing threat to our administrations. One only has to look around the region to see examples of this.

The Vanuatu Government’s IT system was effectively shut down late last year.

The Republic of Marshall Islands faced a similar attack a few months prior.

Millions of Australians have lost personal information in attacks on Optus and Medibank Private.

Indeed, it is a sad fact that everyday, thousands of criminals go to work with the sole intention of inflicting harm on innocent people across the globe, including here in the Blue Pacific Continent.

We cannot, and will not, let them win.

Last year, Pacific Islands Forum Leaders launched the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent.

In doing so, they painted a vision for a future in which all Pacific peoples benefit from access to affordable, safe and reliable ICT infrastructure, systems and operations, while ensuring culturally sensitive user-protection and cyber security.

It is fair to say that we have many challenges ahead in the way we develop, use and secure our technology.

Yet we also have a plan to meet those challenges head on.

In November this year, Leaders will reunite in Rarotonga to launch an implementation plan for the 2050 Strategy.

The implementation plan takes stock of the many efforts across the region already underway to address our most pressing opportunities and challenges, including in the cyber domain.

It also sets out a range of key new actions that we as a region will undertake to move us closer to our leaders’ vision of a safe and prosperous region.

We know that there are many partners with the skills and resources to be able to help us confront our challenges in the cyber domain. It is very heartening to see such support exists. It is greatly appreciated.

However, without taking that assistance for granted, we wish to ensure that every dollar, every euro, every minute of assistance provided to us is done so in the most effective manner.

And with that in mind, it brings me great pleasure to be here today, joined by you all, to witness the inaugural P4C.

To see donors and governments coming together to discuss and agree areas of support, moving forward, is the model of partnerships that we should increasingly move torwards.

It is an approach that has the most likelihood of long-term, sustainable success.

Coherent and consistent coordination across the various partners will be key to the effectiveness to the support in this sector. To that end, I am pleased to know that coordination is a key focus of this week’s gathering.

Recognising the interest of our Pacific Leaders in this area and remaining abreast of the developments as they evolve, I would urge partners and implementing agencies alike, to continue to engage the Pacific Islands Forum in your discussions both amongst partners as well as in the region with our Members.

On that note, the Forum Chair, Cook Islands, is currently working with Forum Members to develop a suite of high-priority regional interventions under the flagship of ‘Pacific Partnerships for Prosperity’, that will draw global attention and resources to some of our region’s largest challenges.

Among these challenges, the Forum Chair has highlighted cybersecurity for particular attention.

Once Forum Leaders have considered this proposal further, we will work with you all, as key stakeholders in cybersecurity in the Pacific, to structure that partnership appropriately.

Please stay in touch with me and my team at the Forum Secretariat, so we can work on this important initiative together.

Let us all work together, in partnership, to deliver on our Leaders’ vision under the 2050 Strategy, for a safe, security and prosperous Blue Pacific Continent for us all.

Meitaki, vinaka vaka levu, thank you, and best wishes from the Pacific Islands Forum.--ENDS