Press release

IISD's Lake Winnipeg bioeconomy pilot project gains international recognition

June 19, 2012

Sustaina100 award committee includes Brundtland, Hedegaard, Pachauri, Schwarzenegger

RIO DE JANEIRO—June 20, 2012—An International Institute for Sustainable Development initiative to produce economic, environmental and social benefits from ecological biomass was named at Rio+20 as one of the world's best 100 solutions to move society towards sustainable development.

IISD was selected to become a member of Sustainia100 for its "beneficial cattail" initiative that harvests and processes the common wetland plant, cattail (Typha spp.), to produce low-cost bioenergy, fight nutrient loading to waterways by capturing phosphorus, recycle this phosphorus into fertilizer, produce carbon credits and improve wetland habitat—five benefits to sustainable development.

The initiative is part of IISD's Lake Winnipeg Bioeconomy Project—a transformative economic model in which the basic inputs for industry comes from renewable resources.

"In the face of widespread concerns around food, energy, water, and resource security and scarcity, the increasing use of renewable inputs to industrial economies is inevitable and urgent," said IISD project leader Richard Grosshans.

"The beneficial cattail project demonstrates how innovative thinking can turn environmental problems into downstream and upstream opportunities that can be applied around the world," said Henry David (Hank) Venema, director of IISD's Water Innovation Centre. "For example, IISD is working with (electric power and natural gas utility) Manitoba Hydro to displace coal using cattails."

Gro Harlem Brundtland, member of the Sustainia Award Committee and former prime minister of Norway, said Sustainia100 members help provide a way forward for sustainable development. "With the Sustainia100 there is no excuse for not choosing a sustainable path to the future. The solutions are there."

Honorary chair of Sustainia Arnold Schwarzenegger said, "I am very excited and inspired by this, as it makes it absolutely clear that our mission is possible. That we do have the ammunition we need to tackle this challenge. That we have what it takes to create fun and attractive societies without destroying our planet."

The award committee also includes IPCC chairman Rajendra K. Pachauri and EU commissioner Connie Hedegaard.

The 100 solutions come from 56 countries. The full list of Sustainia100 solutions will be posted at


Please see the media backgrounder for more information about the initiative.

Editors please note that photos are available at the following link:

For more information, please contact Nona Pelletier, IISD manager, public affairs at +1 (204) 958-7740 or cell: +1 (204) 962-1303.

About IISD

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is an award-winning independent think tank working to accelerate solutions for a stable climate, sustainable resource management, and fair economies. Our work inspires better decisions and sparks meaningful action to help people and the planet thrive. We shine a light on what can be achieved when governments, businesses, non-profits, and communities come together. IISD’s staff of more than 250 experts come from across the globe and from many disciplines. With offices in Winnipeg, Geneva, Ottawa, and Toronto, our work affects lives in nearly 100 countries.