Address on Education, Innovation and Trade—“Partnerships for a Better World” (Peru)
Lima, Peru, Monday, December 3, 2012
I would like to thank you for inviting me to this institution here in Peru to speak about the relationship between our two countries that will define our successes in the 21st century.
This beautiful country has such a rich cultural heritage, which I am delighted to be able to discover it. As the first governor general to visit this country, my visit thus far has afforded me opportunities to witness how Peruvians are dedicated to building a better world. As well, I have seen how our two peoples are working together.
Here in Peru, I see great opportunities for further collaboration, for coming together in common cause, for growth. When I look at Canada and Peru, I see differences in language and culture. Yet, I also see, overwhelmingly, our similarities—as well as opportunities we share.
One is the opportunity that arises out of both countries sharing the Pacific Ocean coast.
As Pacific nations, and as partners in the Americas, we have a robust relationship, one that is strengthened by shared values and by links through institutions and especially through people.
In fact, it is people-to-people ties that define the relationship between countries. Through people, we are able to increase trade, strengthen education, and support innovation.
And we can do so through what I call the diplomacy of knowledge.
Permit me to explain. The diplomacy of knowledge refers to the exchange of ideas not only at a governmental level, but also at an institutional level and a personal level. In this way, we are ensuring that we better understand and respect each other’s needs, and can therefore help each other to thrive.
Take, for instance, trade. Peru represents one of our largest trading partners in the region. A fantastic growth over the last decade. Billions of dollars flow annually between our two countries. This is not surprising given that we have many examples of mutually beneficial knowledge, technology, products and services needed by both our peoples.
Another reason is the myriad investment opportunities that can be found here and in Canada. With so many avenues for success, it is no wonder that our relationship continues to grow.
And yet, we must be constantly vigilant that any growth actually benefits and serves the people and our communities, and we must be conscious of our environmental impacts.
In short, sustainable development, which includes social responsibility—corporate and governmental—is paramount to sustained, real economic growth. When we respect the ideals that we hold dear, when we value people above profit, that is when we truly succeed in creating not only success, but also a better world.
While in Peru, I have been meeting with business leaders and government representatives to talk about our economic ties and how our peoples can better benefit from them. We have gained more insight into our trade and have heard how we can work together to achieve even better results.
But how can we accomplish this? There are many forms of trade growth. Our governments are often increasing these ties, making it easier to do business with each other. But there is an opportunity outside of official channels to achieve this growth.
The Universidad del Pacífico, with a sharp focus on business and economic education, is poised to make an impact with the next generation of students. Already, you are teaching and learning what it takes to do business in an increasingly globalized world. You are educating global citizens.
No longer are borders an impediment to communicating with each other, thanks, in part, to the fast rise of the Internet. And as you know, communicating is the first step towards opportunity in business.
But the success of which I speak is not simply recognizing business prospects, but also recognizing that education at all levels must be a priority for our economic vitality.
For example, during this visit I will be visiting the SENCICO Technical Institute of Peru, in San Borja. I am interested in seeing how this low-cost technical school trains students in various trades and how it works in the community.
SENCICO is a great example of how Peruvians, no matter their social or economic status, have the chance to obtain a solid education and a promising career.
In short, this institute fulfills a basic need. Education can lead to jobs—not to mention critical thinking that applies to all areas of our lives—which can lead to discretionary income, which can lead to economic prosperity, which then leads to greater chance of success on the world stage.
That is why what we learn and how we interact is so important. That is why what you do here is vital for the future of both our countries.
We can see, then, how trade and education must work in tandem. Success in one assures a better chance of success in the other. And by working together, we can strengthen both our countries.
I was delighted to learn of the variety of ways that educational institutions here and in Canada are already partnering for the good of students.
We do this in several ways.
Several universities in Peru, including this magnificent one, have direct ties to institutions in Canada. This is a perfect way to encourage students to look not just locally, but internationally.
I have always said that one of the greatest learning experiences I ever undertook was when I travelled overseas to study.
To be immersed in unfamiliar surroundings, to be thrust into the midst of other people from around the world, to study ideas and theories different than your own, that is how we are able to grow as people. That is one way we can succeed in our globalized world.
A few months ago, the Canadian Embassy here in Lima hosted more than a dozen Canadian colleges and universities, encouraging Peruvian youth to consider travelling overseas for an international education. I applaud this type of initiative, because when we give our young people the chance to experience another society, we all benefit.
In turn, I hope to gain a better insight into Peru’s education system during my visit here. You well understand the importance of learning, and I look forward to encouraging more Canadians to travel to this country to immerse themselves in Peru’s rich culture.
Canada and Peru also share the understanding that a good education must begin right from the very start. Among other priorities, the Canadian International Development Agency is proud to invest in basic education for Peruvian children in rural areas of the country.
Our country, like yours, has populations in many vast areas which makes it difficult to reach all the children.
The success of this program hinges on the co-operation between Canadians and Peruvians—that it has achieved such great results speaks volumes on how wonderfully we are able to collaborate.
But to collaborate well, to grow education and trade, we must think ahead, we must be creative. We must innovate.
In today’s world, innovation is the key to prosperity, and prosperity is the means by which we can invest in the things that are crucial to our quality of life: education, health care, infrastructure, scientific research, the environment, culture, security.
I have seen up close how innovation is not a one-directional process from education and research, to experimentation, to practical application. Rather, innovation occurs back and forth at various points along that storyline.
I have also seen how the process of innovation is so often shared. In the 21st century, it is increasingly rare for a single person acting in isolation to make a breakthrough discovery, and the same applies to innovation in trade and education. Collaboration and dialogue are among the keys to our success.
In fact, we should and must encourage technological exchanges, and we need to support more integrated research and development. In other words, we need to collaborate on our innovations. This is at the core of all our other ties.
I often draw on Jefferson’s image of a burning candle when illustrating the importance of sharing our knowledge and experiences. In fact, I have crafted this image, along with that of books, which represent learning, into my coat of arms.
The candle symbolizes not only enlightenment, but also the transmission of learning from one person to another. The sharing of knowledge collectively enlightens our societies and our world. And when you light your candle from mine, my light is not diminished, it is enhanced.
Whether through CIDA helping Peruvian youth, through universities encouraging student exchange, or through dialogues such as the one we will have here today, we need to discover the heretofore undiscovered ways to collaborate.
We need to look beyond borders, think differently, and form lasting ties, between governments assuredly, but most of all between citizens. In this way, we can strengthen all other ties.
It is the formula for a smarter, more caring world, and a fairer, more just society.
This starts right here, with people reaching out to others with the diplomacy, with the sharing, of knowledge.