Rotary conference aims to make peace

Can an insurance salesman from Port Coquitlam or a muffler shop owner from Port Moody help save the world?

Maybe not in a day, or even a weekend. But by contributing their voices to six peace-building conferences being hosted throughout the world in 2018 by Rotary International, the president of the Rotary Club of Port Coquitlam Centennial, Mohan Mohanan, says the world can creep a little closer to freedom from conflict and strife.

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The first of the conferences — on the role environmental sustainability can play in building peace — will be held Feb. 9 to 11 at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver. Speakers include scientist and author David Suzuki, the director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dr. Jonathan Patz, and environmental attorney and advocate, Kathleen Rogers as well as other experts in sustainability and peace.

Mohanan said it’s not unusual for Rotary’s 1.2 million business and professional leaders from around the world to take an active role in finding solutions for global issues. After all, the organization played a part in the formation of the United Nations and its efforts have been instrumental in helping rid the world of polio, a disease that used to affect 350,000 children a year in 120 countries but has now diminished to just 21 cases in three countries in 2017. And members work tirelessly at local projects like lunch programs for school kids that help improve their communities with the hope those efforts could spawn future difference-makers.

“Rotary has always been an initiator,” Mohanan said.

The local Rotary’s approximately 120 members belong to one of 58 clubs in a district that runs from Everett, Wash., to Hope. Clubs in Vancouver and Burnaby belong to a different district. But Mohanan said they all share a common goal of maximizing their efforts to make the world a better place.

“The steps may be slow but, ultimately, it feels like we’re making a difference,” Mohanan said, adding members often absorb the cost of projects on their own, so 100% of donations collected or money raised can go towards those projects. Various matching programs from government and international agencies can help magnify Rotary’s impact as well.

• To learn more about Rotary International’s upcoming presidential peace-building conference, go to www.environmentandpeace.com.

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