Op-Ed: Water is Canada's new peacekeeping opportunity

February 05, 2018

By Zafar Adeel

Canada has a reputation as a peacekeeping nation and as a water country, one of the most richly endowed in the world.

These two elements are connected and put our nation in a strong position to offer leadership to avoid future global conflicts. If we are going to claim that “Canada is back,” we must draw upon our strengths and make a concerted effort to support the international community.

Canadian leadership in peacekeeping dates back to the Sinai Crisis in 1956. It was Lester B. Pearson’s proposal, as Canada’s minister of external affairs, that led to the  first peacekeeping mission in United Nations’ history. During the Cold War, Canada maintained notable peacekeeping involvement in South Asia, Middle East, and Sub-Saharan Africa. This role has declined considerably since, where Canada has slid from the No. 1 contributor to peacekeeping missions in 1990 to ranking 67th in the world in 2016.

The world around us and the nature of peacekeeping have also changed considerably, reflecting the evolving nature of threats. Climate change is now a leading threat that exacerbates existing social and societal weaknesses; it is affecting the global water cycle greatly – too much water, too little water, extreme weather events, melting of ice, sea level rise – making water security crucial to economic and political stability.

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