by NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană

  • 11 Nov. 2021 -
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  • Mis à jour le: 11 Nov. 2021 15:37

Good morning. 

And thank you so much for inviting me to open today’s session dedicated to the important topic of cybersecurity. Alex Maxineanu, thank you so much for always inviting me to your great events.

Let me start by congratulating GoTech World on your tenth anniversary. Over the last decade, you have brought together tens of thousands of experts, companies and distinguished participants to support the digital transformation of our region in Central and Eastern Europe - a region that is so close to my own heart.

GoTech World’s mission is totally in line with what we are doing here at NATO. Finding common solutions to harness the opportunities and mitigate the risks of new technologies. Capitalising on the incredible potential of this important region. And encouraging collaboration between the all-important “triple helix” of entrepreneurs, academics and of course of governments and public sector.

Our Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg asked me to champion innovation across NATO. I chair the Innovation Board here at NATO. And our Alliance boasts a network of more than 6,000 scientists and engineers, and over 5,000 companies in our industrial advisory group. The world’s largest collaborative defence and security research network in the world. 

So we are supremely placed to help our 30 nations and 1 billion people leaving in the 30 Allied Nations to adapt to the digital age, by boosting transatlantic cooperation and harnessing an ecosystem of innovation. And I am here delighted to be with you today and tell you a little bit about the important work we are undertaking here in NATO.

This is already a truth that new technology is transforming the world and human societies and world economies at record speed.

On the one hand, offering solutions to some of our most intractable problems of human mankind. From improving healthcare, to boosting economic growth, and yes the such important job of tackling the impact of climate change.

On the other hand, threating the very definition of our security and societies, through sophisticated cyber-attacks, disinformation campaigns and disruptive technologies.
Authoritarian regimes that do not share our values, or play by the same rules, are aggressively vying for technological dominance.

China and Russia are racing to develop new technologies – from AI and autonomous systems, to hypersonic weapons and robotics.
Many of today’s technological innovations are also being driven by the civilian private sector, where traditionally governments and the defence industry were leading, only a few decades ago, the way.

Our ability to keep our people safe in this more competitive and uncertain world will be defined as much by bytes and big data, as by bullets and battleships.
Technology is moving fast and faster. So we must move even faster to retain the technological edge that has ensured our ability to deter aggression and defend our nations successfully for over 70 years.

The good news is that NATO is doing just that.

Allies are committed to protecting one another in space and in cyber space, as effectively as we do on land, at sea, and in the air. 

Cyberspace was already added as a new operational domain at our Warsaw Summit in 2016, and space at our leaders meeting in London in 2019.

At our Brussels Summit this very June, Allies took bold decisions to tackle today’s and tomorrow’s security challenges together, through NATO, the indispensable transatlantic forum on everything related to security. 

We agreed a comprehensive new cyber defence policy, recognising that cyberspace is contested at all times. So we stand ready at all times - to actively deter and defend against all threats and actors.

For this we need the political resolve, technical capabilities, and military planning in place to keep our systems – our societies, our economies, our way of life, our democratic societies – safe.

Shortly after the Summit in June, NATO Allies demonstrated this resolve. By standing in solidarity with each other, and our partners in the EU and Asia-Pacific, to condemn malicious cyber activities, like the compromise of the Microsoft Exchange Server. That basically was the headline across the entire world. 

As well as mitigating the risks, NATO is also determined to seize the opportunities presented by new technologies.

We have already taken steps – through the NATO 2030 initiative we agreed at the Summit - to boost transatlantic innovation and cooperation and to harness this innovation ecosystem that connects all our 30 nations. 

At last month’s Defence Ministers meeting here at the NATO HQ where I am speaking you from, Allies committed to provide a network of technology test centres and accelerator sites for our new Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic – a superb acronym “DIANA.”

DIANA is designed to capitalise on dual-use technologies that can also be applied to our defence and security needs.

It will also help build an innovation pipeline across the Atlantic, to enable all Allies – large and small, east and west, north and south – to capitalise on our amazing entrepreneurs, academic institutions and finance and venture capital sectors.

At the Ministerial, a majority – 17 Allies – also agreed to establish and to contribute to a new NATO Innovation Fund.

We expect this new multinational venture capital fund to invest one billion euros over the next 15 years – could not be a lot of money – but this would be exceptional support for innovators developing tomorrow’s cutting-edge technologies, which might not come to market without this support. And by the way, when it comes to standards, NATO is the world gold standards on everything we do in terms of standards. 

The fund, the innovation fund, will also help to attract other sources of public and private sector and venture capital and private equity financial needs for innovation. 
DIANA and the Innovation Fund are true transatlantic endeavours. Headquartered in both Europe and North America, they will promote investment opportunities and market access across the Alliance.

They will ensure that we retain the all-important interoperability that enables us to continue to work effectively together, also in the realm of new technology. While protecting our brightest innovators and innovations from adversarial investment and actors, and sometimes, outright intellectual property theft. 

We are well on track to have both of these initiatives run up and running by our Summit in Madrid in the summer of 2022. 

Of the new technologies we are examining, Artificial Intelligence and Big Data are the drivers of so many other technological innovations. They are in a way a revolution in the way which we defend ourselves, so NATO has naturally made these a priority for us.

Last month, at the same defence Ministerial meeting, our Defence Ministers agreed NATO’s first-ever strategy on Artificial Intelligence and a framework for the data exploitation.
We want to set the standard – I mentioned the standards before – when it comes to the safe and responsible use of data and AI. And unlike other actors who develop and deploy new technologies with little or no regard for human rights and international law, NATO is also in the business of setting norms of responsible use and ethical norms for using these very important technologies in security and defence. 

These new strategies are designed to accelerate adoption and interoperability among Allies, while protecting against adversarial use and abuse. 

Because this is the uniqueness of NATO, from Silicon Valley to the Black Sea, and from the Baltic Sea region all the way back to the big biotech cluster around Boston, NATO is blessed with the most formidable talent, the brightest innovators, and world-class researchers and academic institutions.

So I am always heartened to see the increasing numbers of smart men and women coming from our region, from my home country Romania - from Central, Eastern, and South Eastern Europe - with fresh ideas and inspiration. Some of them becoming unicorns and going successfully in the global realm, others continuing to invest and continuing to try and continuing to bring this huge talent to fruition both in commercial but also, why not, in national and international security domains. 

I have said this before – and I will say it again. Open societies, where people can think freely, act in freedom, collaborate freely, and innovate freely are the only way to ensure our technological edge in these more competitive and uncertain times is kept. This has kept us as NATO safe for so many decades. This is the way to continue to provide the indispensable foundation for peace, for prosperity, for democracy, for choosing whatever future our citizens would freely choose. This is what NATO is all about, the precondition for prosperity, for development, for peace and stability in the world. 

So thank you again to GoTech World for everything you do to support these efforts. I wish you an extremely successful conference. I know this would be yet another one. Happy tenth anniversary. And I hope I and us here in NATO will continue to support your efforts and I hope that we can to count on your support for the next decade and beyond.

Thank you so much and good luck.