Making a difference

A woman paints a thank you message to nurses and doctors on a boarded-up shop in Vancouver, Canada. Picture: Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press

After decades of steady global growth and prosperity, the recent months have confronted us with the challenge of a generation.

Today, nations around the world are reckoning with a pandemic the contours of which we are just beginning to grasp.

But while the effects of COVID-19 have tested our collective sense of security and stability, they have also underscored the need for international solidarity.

In times like these, it is easy to turn inwards – to believe that continued lockdown and self-interested policies are inevitable consequences of a global crisis.

But what has become clear is that, in fact, the opposite is true.

Overcoming this virus will mean strengthening the ties that bind us – recommitting ourselves to the rules-based international order that has seen us through crises before, and which will allow us to prevail again.

That is why later this month, Canada is running for a seat on the UN Security Council.

Through our principled approach and ideas, we know that Canada can make a difference and advance the work of an institution that finds renewed relevance in today’s uncertain world.

Core to our platform is the concept of inclusive economic security, grounded in the knowledge that there cannot be sustainable peace and security until we achieve a prosperity whose benefits are felt by all.

As our world rebuilds in the months and years to come, we will doubtless see financial constraints tightened, food security imperilled, and supply chains disrupted. That is why the Security Council must take economic considerations into its agenda.

Failing to attend to these issues will only delay recovery and risk losing a generation to economic desperation.

That is why Canada along with Jamaica together with UN secretary general, António Guterres, recently convened a high-level international meeting of more than 50 world leaders to address the economic devastation caused by COVID-19 and advance concrete solutions to counter its effects on the most vulnerable, including small island developing states.

Canada’s seat at the Security Council will reflect the interests of our partners, and amplify the voices of nations whose interests do not always get a fair hearing.

Canada is a Pacific country, and we are committed to speaking alongside the regional voice of our Pacific Island partners.

We know that we have an important part to play.

Canada is supporting partners across the Pacific Islands, contributing over (CAN) $3 million ($F4.8m) in emergency funding to countries who are working on the front lines to prevent, detect and respond to COVID-19.

But even before this crisis, the Pacific region faced urgent challenges presented by climate change, compounded by threats to biodiversity and ocean health.

We know that these issues are inextricable from peace and stability, which is why Canada is committed to taking action on climate change domestically, bilaterally, regionally and globally.

This includes delivering on our pledge of (CAN) $2.65 billion ($F4.2b) to assist the developing countries most vulnerable to climate change, while also introducing measures at home such as carbon pricing, and supporting a low-carbon, sustainable and climate-resilient future for all.

We are proud to support actions to fight climate change in the Pacific as a leading donor to the Kiwa Initiative, which aims to protect, sustainably manage, and ultimately strengthen the resilience of ecosystems, economies and communities.

As we confront the issues of our time, we also know that we cannot do it alone.

Local, Indigenous, small island, and remote coastal communities will be critical partners as we move forward.

These voices are too seldom reflected in international and multilateral discussions, but Canada will seek to bring them to the fore, knowing that lasting solutions to global challenges must bring into the conversation those who are most affected.

For example, we can and must build on the strengths and natural endowments of the Pacific Island States, who can lead the way on ocean science and sustainable management.

Building a sustainable ocean economy, or “Blue” economy offers extraordinary promise, and will open new frontiers as we shape the world of tomorrow.

More than half a century ago, in the wake of the second World War, the world was faced with a rebuilding project of unprecedented proportion.

So much hung in the balance, and the future remained nebulous and uncertain.

Faced with this monumental task, the international community chose to turn outwards, building institutions like the UN and the Bretton Woods system.

Their architecture continues to underpin today’s international order.

The framers of these systems, among them many Canadians, knew that we go farther when we go together.

They chose openness over isolationism, cooperation over rivalry, and dialogue over confrontation.

Today, we must make that choice again. And as the world rebuilds anew, the Pacific Island States will have no closer ally than Canada.


  •  François-Philippe Champagne, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister while Karina Gould is the International Development Minister. The views expressed are the authors and not necessarily of this newspaper.




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