Keynote Address at the University of Campinas
Campinas, Brazil, Saturday, April 28, 2012
Thank you for welcoming me to the University of Campinas and for allowing me to speak to you about the robust relationship that Canada and Brazil enjoy.
It should be no surprise—given the similarities that exist in our countries and our histories—that we should gravitate towards one another as natural partners. We both have proud Aboriginal peoples and vibrant multicultural societies. We are resource rich and vast countries with populations centered in clusters: yours on the coast, ours along our southern border. And we share a similar history of colonial settlement: ours from France and England, yours from Portugal.
Collaboration between our two countries is flourishing, sparked by the changes brought about by our globalized world. In addition to our enduring people-to-people ties, trade between Canada and Brazil has increased by more than 40% in the last five years, a remarkable sign of our continuing economic bond.
This growth is the result of a greater realization that we have so much to offer each other. That is why our mutual investment is also on the rise. The Brazilian mining company Vale is the largest of this country’s investors in Canada, but by no means the only one. Brazil, in turn, is the 11th largest recipient of Canadian investment abroad. Approximately 500 Canadian companies are active in Brazil in a wide range of fields.
Over the last few decades, Brazil’s presence on the world stage has increased. As one of the BRICS nations, Brazil is called an emerging economy, but in Canada we know you have already emerged. And it is, in part, your country’s commitment to collaboration with other countries that propels you forward. Consul General, we know that Brazil is not just another BRIC in the wall.
The city of Campinas is a perfect example of this. The Secretariat of International Cooperation has existed since 1994 with the purpose of identifying ways that other cities, states and countries can invest in the city. The result? A diverse community that boasts the presence of many of this country’s leading investors.
That Brazil and Canada both know the importance of collaboration results in what I like to call the diplomacy of knowledge.
Permit me to explain. I am a big believer in working together. As such, I define the diplomacy of knowledge as our ability and willingness to work together and to share our learning across disciplines and borders. When people achieve the right mixture of creativity, communication and co-operation, remarkable things can happen.
A common type of partnership finds its roots in the halls of academia, such as the University of Campinas. At universities around the world, I have seen the diplomacy of knowledge at work. Universities, academics, researchers and students are ideal ambassadors for our countries. The exchanges of people and of knowledge have led to amazing experiences and innovations.
As much as diplomacy happens between governments, it happens equally between peoples.
Our people-to-people links are a major interest for many of those 500 Canadian companies, all of which are looking to expand their consumer base and realizing that Brazil is the place in which to do so.
In fact, a recent study by Statistics Canada found that those companies that entered new markets, that went beyond their comfortable niche and expanded to other communities, cities and nations, tended to improve their productivity. In other words, innovative approaches yielded significant gains.
Indeed, Canada and Brazil have a great history of innovation sharing. It was 1876 when then Brazilian Emperor Pedro II came to Canada. There, he met with Alexander Graham Bell who demonstrated his newly invented telephone. Like most that saw the strange device, he was shocked. “This thing speaks,” the Emperor was heard to exclaim.
A year later, the Emperor brought the first telephone to Brazil. Today, this story proves not only that Brazil and Canada share a long-standing innovation relationship, but also that Brazilians have a keen eye for new and emerging technologies that strengthen their country.
Brazil’s dedication to modernization can also be seen right here. The Campinas Development Company of High Technology, within the secretariat, focuses on developing policies to improve lives through technology.
It is this focus on improving the country that allowed Campinas and the state of Sao Paulo to create and develop the alternative fuel ethanol in the 1970s. Brazilians saw an opportunity to innovate and chose to embrace it. This is but one way the city, state and country have grown.
History has shown that this focus on innovation within communities has been successful.
During my mandate as governor general of Canada, I have seen first-hand the transformative results when communities innovate. To create smarter, sustainable communities, we must devise creative solutions to everyday problems.
Let me give you two Canadian examples—from Waterloo and Rimouski—that give us lessons in creating better communities through innovation, collaboration and education.
For a number of years I served as president of the University of Waterloo, which is among Canada’s most innovative universities. And recently, the 120-acre University of Waterloo Research and Technology Park opened to foster collaboration between the community and the university. It is one of the largest research parks in Canada. The research park has access to Waterloo’s talented co-op students, alumni and professors, who share the goal of making breakthrough discoveries that lead to social and commercial advantage.
This shows how vital it is for communities to look ahead, to recognize sectors that might be struggling and to take action to bolster their fortunes or take another course that will transform the community from sagging to successful. This is social innovation at its best—new ideas for a new time.
In Brazil, this takes shape in such organizations as COEP. For nearly two decades, this networking agency has worked with many Brazilians to fight against poverty and hunger. In its quest, it has embraced change, new ways of doing things, to benefit communities.
Most importantly, this organization has encouraged active citizenship in its campaigns. The greater involvement people have in their communities, the more those communities are strengthened.
Whether through non-profits, corporate involvement, university research, or governmental intervention, countries have to adapt to changing times. Brazilians know this and have used the tools available to them to spark societal change. This benefits Brazil. This benefits Canada. And this benefits the world.
Time and again, Brazil has shown that it is open to new ideas, that it is willing to grow and change for the sake of its people. That is why Brazil has invested so much in the last decade in education, research and innovation. It recognized how to achieve global success and took steps to bring its society forward.
These success stories also demonstrate the collaborative nature of knowledge building in the 21st century, with researchers, universities and organizations pooling their talents and resources to greater effect.
Few discoveries today are made in isolation—particularly in research and innovation—and our greatest advances often occur at the intersections between disciplines, organizations and communities.
Ultimately, all knowledge is interrelated.
Recently, our two countries have done much to improve our collaboration. Here at the university, you are eager to receive Canadian students. The growth of two-way mobility between our students and professors is one of the better ways that we practise the diplomacy of knowledge.
Other projects, such as the Canada-Brazil Joint Committee for Cooperation on Science, Technology and Innovation, are creating new ways for the leading thinkers, entrepreneurs and innovators of our societies to interact and to discover opportunities for us to work together. I can only imagine that the outcome of this will be favourable to both our countries.
And more broadly, the Canada-Brazil Joint Action Plan will focus on our innovation strategies and on our key strengths. This will, no doubt, lead us to discover even more areas where we can co-operate with each other.
Brazil’s collaboration extends beyond its borders because you know that a globalized world brings with it the challenge of open communication. No country can exist in isolation, just as ideas cannot thrive without application.
Brazil brought the telephone to its shores because it knew that communication would bridge the distance between communities and help connect them with the wider world. And in recent year, just looking at the rise in the number of cell phones in Brazil, from 174 million in 2008 to over 200 million in 2010, we can see the resolve for connectivity.
Today, with the fast rise of the Internet, we cannot ignore the fact that we are all connected, that ideas are evolving as quickly as technology.
The last example I want to share with you is that of Rimouski, Quebec. Located on the shores of Canada’s vast St. Lawrence River, the Université du Québec à Rimouski achieved success by becoming a leader in marine research. They did this by looking at local strengths and local needs, and then using a strategic approach that built outward.
Through the use of Rimouski’s resources, and through the promotion of marine research as a viable course of study, the university has succeeded and with it, the community has renewed its fortunes.
Rimouski underscores the value of “seeing things whole” in crafting an education strategy for communities, particularly for universities.
What do I mean by this?
Universities have a responsibility. As one of the largest universities in Brazil, especially when it comes to research, you know of what I speak. This responsibility reaches beyond these walls to the community outside, to the country, and to the world. A responsibility that involves answering the fundamental questions of the universe and the land. A responsibility that encompasses health and how we care for our world. A responsibility to see the nuances of our society—to see things whole—and ask whether we can do better.
The Université du Québec à Rimouski saw a need in our society and in the community, a field that had not yet been explored, an opportunity for jobs and careers being underutilized, and took it upon itself to build up this field.
When I look at cities like Waterloo, Rimouski, Sao Paulo, Campinas, I see a commitment to education that not only delivers quality, but also allows for communities to thrive.
The challenge that we face is simple: to seek out and develop those networks of people within our schools, our communities, our countries and the globe who together can help make this a smarter and wiser world.
Knowledge is not something to protect. Not between nations, not between people. A strong, vibrant, successful Brazil is good for Canada and the world, just as Canada’s success will improve Brazil.
As Michael Fullan, who was one of the architects of the rise in the Province of Ontario’s high school graduation rates, has pointed out, “Every country that gets better educationally becomes a better neighbour. The moral imperative in education is about the whole world advancing.”
All of you here understand this, which is why Brazil has such high expectations for its education system.
Innovation, collaboration and education intertwine to create the communities that will be creative, sustainable and global.
I have been in Brazil for the past week, travelling across the country. I have met with and spoken to a cross-section of Brazilian society, including officials, business leaders, students, innovators and educators.
In Brasilia, I met with President Rousseff to jointly announce Canada’s participation as a host country in the Science Without Borders program. Through this program, more than 12 000 students will be able to come to Canada to experience what our own universities have to offer. I hope that after they return home to complete their studies, they will have the desire to share what they have learned in Canada. It is these young people who will lead the Brazil and Canada of tomorrow and will, I hope, do so with an eye towards collaboration.
Yesterday, in Sao Paulo, I saw your commitment to education. I met with Governor Alckmin Filho. We discussed the very significant foundation that Canada and Brazil have laid together and concluded we have a very positive agenda for collaboration. Also there was Secretary Fernandez, a long-time member of UNICAM’s faculty who spent a most pleasant sabbatical in Montreal at McGill.
Also during my time in Brazil, I have had the honour of leading a delegation from the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada to the Conference of the Americas on International Education. There, I was able to give my views on just how important international education is in our globalized world and talk about the great opportunities for learning in Canada and Brazil.
The ways in which Brazil is focusing on research to give the country a great advantage in science and technology on the world stage is truly remarkable.
Finally, my visit ends right here in Campinas, and it is here that I would like to share with you my final thoughts on my visit.
Brazilians have opened their arms to welcome me, my wife, Sharon, and the accompanying Canadian delegation. They did so not out of duty, but out of friendship. I leave here with a greater understanding of your country, of the resilience of your people. I leave here with even more respect and greater admiration for Brazil’s place in the world.
I have seen the great potential in our two countries’ relationship, both realized and still growing. We have so much to offer each other, whether in trade or knowledge. Our two countries should not waiver from our commitment to education, innovation and collaboration, which build strong communities.
And we should never forget the importance of the diplomacy of knowledge that fosters a smarter, more caring world.