The World Bank has announced a new Cybersecurity Multi-Donor Trust Fund under the broader Digital Development Partnership (DDP) umbrella program.
Digital transformation is accelerating in many countries, offering new opportunities for economic growth and enabling low- and medium-income countries to leapfrog development through increased productivity and improved service delivery across key sectors, including finance, health, education, and agriculture.
Embracing technological transformation has increased cyber risks and threats to digital infrastructure, services, and data, which rely on increasingly connected systems. As digital transformation becomes essential to the functioning of states, economies, and societies, cybersecurity solutions must keep up. A partnership approach can help build trust, improve awareness, and deliver the technical solutions that countries require.
“COVID-19 has highlighted the vital role digital technologies and applications play in a resilient development agenda. It keeps people, businesses, and public services connected. As governments are rapidly scaling up their investments into digital technologies, cybersecurity has become a pressing concern to ensure a safe and secure digital transformation for all,” said Boutheina Guermazi, Director of the World Bank’s Digital Development Global Practice. “Fostering safe digital inclusion is of paramount importance for the World Bank’s work in helping countries reduce poverty, tackle inequality, and accelerate economic growth.”
The new fund aims to better define and systematically roll out the cybersecurity development agenda, helping to ensure a more substantial reflection of cybersecurity considerations across World Bank programs and financing. The work program will support the development of global knowledge on cybersecurity solutions for low- and middle-income countries. It will fund country maturity assessments, offer technical assistance, and support training and capacity development for cybersecurity staff in World Bank client countries.
The launch of the Trust Fund is made possible with donor contributions from Estonia, Germany, Japan, and the Netherlands.
“It is essential that basic cybersecurity elements are integrated into all digitalization projects in development cooperation,” said Mari Tomingas of the Cyber Diplomacy Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia. “As a highly developed digital nation, we continue to share our expertise, and we are very happy about the launch of the new associated trust fund.”
“Cyberattacks are becoming more complex and sophisticated across the world,” said the representatives of Japan’s Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Internal Affairs and Communication, Narichika Konno and Atsushi Umino. “Effective communication through digital technologies is a public good and can be best achieved if low- and middle-income countries are included in the effective protection of critical digital infrastructure. The importance of capacity building in matters of cyberspace is therefore increasing rapidly.”
“There is widespread agreement in the international community that significantly more cybersecurity capacity building is needed to help low- and middle-income countries become more resilient against attacks and take full advantage of the development opportunities of the digital economy,” said Felix Kroll of the Cyber Foreign Policy and Cyber Security Coordination Staff of the German Federal Foreign Office.
“All of our economies, including those of rapidly-digitizing lower- and middle-income countries, increasingly depend on good cybersecurity to grow and thrive,” said Elizabeth Vish of the Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues of the U.S. Department of State. “We believe the international community will be more secure, stable, and prosperous when a broad range of states has the capacity to defend their own networks.”
“Malicious code—whether you call it a software bug, a virus, malware, ransomware, botnet, or phishing—presents a risk that is globally interconnected and potentially devastating to digitally dependent societies. Addressing this risk requires collective action. Cybersecurity should be a key pillar of any development conversation,” said Kanwaljit Singh of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Progress will require partnership and collaboration between and among partners, also involving other international institutions and organizations.
“Cybersecurity must become an integral part of the digital agenda. Synergies are crucial, and the activities to be carried out should be taken up broadly through development financing programs,” said Michael Thijssen of the Task Force Cyber Policies of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. “Partnerships such as the Global Forum for Cyber Expertise (GFCE), NGOs, and research institutes can help ensure a broad stakeholder process. We are looking forward to great results to be supported through the new trust fund over the years to come.”