As both places have robust water technology sectors, Israel and the Canadian province of Ontario should combine forces in bringing innovation to nations in water crisis, a minister from the province stressed on Tuesday.
“We have opportunities to join forces to provide water solutions to third countries who need water,” Eric Hoskins, Ontario’s economic development, trade and employment minister told The Jerusalem Post in an interview that day.
Hoskins spoke with the Post on the grounds of the Water Technology and Environmental Control (WATEC) Exhibition and Conference, organized by the Israel Trade Fairs Center and Kenes Exhibitions company. He came to the exhibition with a delegation of 10 businesses from the Ontario region.
Although Ontario and Canada in general have copious amounts of freshwater, the province and country have not remained complacent and are eager to share their technological knowhow with less fortunate portions of the world, Hoskins stressed.
“We often refer to it as a blue economy,” he said. “I think that having the Great Lakes and an abundance of freshwater has almost given us a responsibility to develop technology and reach out to more portions of the world that are more challenged.”
Although Canada has an enormous water supply, there are still remote communities that do not have easy access to clean water, which has necessitated the development of innovative technologies, Hoskins explained. Meanwhile, the oil and gas sector has also caused the country to face water challenges related to these industries, he added.
Israel has the same forward way of thinking as does Ontario in the water sector, and Hoskins expressed confidence that the two would be able to make a positive impact by assisting third parties in developing their water sectors together.
“Water security is incredibly important to any country, but the opportunity to export is also a tremendous economic opportunity as well,” Hoskins said.
Not only are such efforts profitable, they also can drift into the humanitarian sector – providing help to those in need. A lifetime humanitarian, Hoskins spent a decade as a medical doctor and humanitarian in war-torn regions of Africa, and later went on to found the War Child Canada charity with his wife, Dr. Samantha Nutt.
“From early on in my career, I became aware of how important access to adequate quantities of clean water is,” he said. “The gap is getting worse, and in the years and decades ahead I think that water is going to become an even more challenging issue for many communities around the world.”
As far as cooperation among Israeli and Ontario water firms and businesses in general are concerned, Hoskins stressed the fact that already a tremendous amount of collaboration exists between the two. In particular, he cited an ongoing partnership between Israel’s national water supplier Mekorot and Canadian firm Real Tech Ltd., which produces absorption measuring instruments to identify organic contaminants.
“I’m here to support our businesses, build those partnerships, see ways that Israel and Ontario, Israel and Canada, can work together, whether it’s bilateral or on other jurisdictions,” Hoskins said.
Although his delegation to Israel is primarily from the water sector, Hoskins himself has also met with government officials, business leaders and social enterprises while here.
Hoskins also met with team members of Access Israel, an organization that he explained is doing remarkable work creating employment opportunities for people with disabilities – something that he is also focused on in Ontario.
“What brought me here is water, but the purpose of the trade mission is broader than that,” he said. “I think we’ve got great potential to use that friendship to develop even stronger business and economic ties.”