MONTEGO BAY, St James — Prime Minister Andrew Holness on Wednesday welcomed discussions on cyber defence and the impact of climate change on environmental security.
Arguing that the devastating effects that natural disasters have on regional economies are well known, Holness urged participants at the Caribbean National Security Conference (CANSEC) 2023 to focus on the effects of these disasters on the security sector.
"It is perhaps fortuitous that we are discussing this matter at the start of the 2023 hurricane season. Matters related to climate change and environmental security are now at the top of our minds. In this region we are all too familiar with the astronomical costs to individuals, communities, companies and the national economy because of the natural weather events such as hurricanes, flooding or earthquakes. We must now focus on determining the true extent of the impact of these scenarios on the security sector," the prime minister said during a virtual address to participants gathered for the event held at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in St James.
"We must begin to examine how security and defence can contribute to reducing these environmental footprints. I look forward to the recommendations emanating from these discussions, including how we can infuse planning for disaster scenarios into the annual plan of activities for our defence and security sectors," added Holness, who is also Minister of Defence.
The prime minister noted that the conference was particularly timely as economies within the region continue to recover from the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic. Bouncing back, he pointed out, has often involved harnessing digital technology to transform economies. He pointed out, however, that this comes with pitfalls.
“It is important that we understand, prepare for and adequately harden our systems to reduce the impact of cyber threats," Holness warned.
The CANSEC conference is being held under the theme: "Strengthening Regional Security through Informed Action". Among participants from the 21 nations in attendance were Chief of Mission for the US Embassy in Jamaica, Amy Tochco; Jamaica’s Deputy Prime Minster and Minister of National Security, Dr Horace Chang; other security ministers from across the region, chiefs of defence, police commissioners, representatives from multi national organisations including the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CEDEMA), CARICOM Implementation Agency For Crime and Security (IMPACS), and Regional Security System (RSS).
During his address, the prime minister also noted that capacity building will naturally form an important aspect of efforts to address cyber defence and the impact of climate change on environmental security.
He noted that the Jamaica Defence Force's newest centre for the delivery of professional military education, the Caribbean Institute of Cyber Science, "focuses on this very issue".
"We look forward to receiving students as well as instructors from across the region to assist in the delivery of critical courses that will enhance this capacity in the region," the prime minister stated.
The Caribbean Institute of Cyber Science (CICSci) was established in June 2020 as part of the national strategy and initiative to build and maintain cyber security capacities and capabilities at the national and regional levels. As such, CICSci is a national institution that serves the military, other governmental agencies and civilians primarily through the design and delivery of programmes and courses that meet the needs of these key stakeholders.
- HORACE HINES