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Freshwater Stewardship in Canada: Another 150 years and beyond

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Evidence-based freshwater stewardship lies at the heart of sustainable development. Freshwater science, transboundary basin management and technology innovation are all critical aspects of sustainable freshwater management.

In January 2017, IISD and the University of Ottawa convened a small group of experts to discuss fresh water in Canada, particularly as it relates to the federal regulatory regime. Discussions included the need for a pan-Canadian freshwater strategy, improved regulatory implementation and enforcement and coherent risk-based approaches to water management. Working with partners within Canada and internationally, IISD will focus on two follow-up themes to contribute to evidenced-based freshwater stewardship: 

  1. Ecosystem management: The Sustainable Development Goals and other aspects of the international agenda set out a significant challenge by referencing freshwater ecosystems to complement wastewater, sanitation and sewage issues. With partners, IISD will focus on identifying some key science aspects of freshwater ecosystem approaches, bringing lessons from different jurisdictions in identifying critical ecosystem processes and watershed ecosystem service. IISD will also identify methods to link ecosystem stewardship with economic analysis, including through comprehensive wealth analysis.  
  2. Open data and freshwater stewardship: A recurring gap in freshwater management across the globe is the lack of credible data and information: onsite water monitoring systems are expensive, while self-monitoring monitoring systems often face both public confidence and data comparability gaps.  At the same time, rapid advances both in big data and open data are creating new possibilities for innovative water management. With partners, IISD will assess current and emerging options in open data systems, including linking open data with freshwater regulatory compliance and enforcement. 

To help mark Canada’s 150th anniversary, IISD will hold an international meeting of experts on freshwater management in Winnipeg in November 2017 to further develop engagement around these two themes.  

  • Paper
    Public Policy Assessment and Advancing Science-Based Freshwater Protection: Background paper

    Public Policy Assessment and Advancing Science-Based Freshwater Protection: Background paper

    In January 2017, IISD and the University of Ottawa convened a small group of experts to discuss fresh water in Canada, particularly as it relates to the federal regulatory regime. This paper written by M.P. Trudeau served as the background document for this event. Read More
  • Commentary
    Building Transboundary Water Security

    Building Transboundary Water Security

    This article highlights a new generation of transboundary agreements that aim to integrate wider freshwater benefits, notably ecosystem functions. It also points to the need for holistic approaches to freshwater management moving forward, as countries turn towards implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Read More
  • Report
    Watershed Indicators: The challenge of consistency

    Watershed Indicators: The challenge of consistency

    In 2014–2015, with support from Environment Canada, the Canadian Sustainability Indicators Network (CSIN) explored the question of watershed indicator consistency and coherency across Canada and between Canada and the United States. Read More