Press release

IISD's Scott Vaughan welcomes Ontario's support for Experimental Lakes Area

International Institute for Sustainable Development president and CEO Scott Vaughan today welcomed Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne's commitment to help save the world-renowned freshwater research facility known as the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA).

April 23, 2013

Premier Wynne sees IISD as new home for world-renowned research facility

WINNIPEG—April 24, 2013—International Institute for Sustainable Development president and CEO Scott Vaughan today welcomed Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne's commitment to help save the world-renowned freshwater research facility known as the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA).

In a speech today, Wynne said Ontario will provide operating support and work toward an agreement with IISD and other partners so that the important science conducted in the ELA can continue.

"Premier Wynne's commitment to the ELA is an important step, and we look forward to working with the province and the federal government on a plan that enables IISD to take over the operations of this extraordinary facility," said Vaughan.

"What is special about the ELA is that it takes research out of the lab and right into the environment — so the ELA presents a rare opportunity for research, perhaps unique in the world," said Vaughan.

Owing to its remote location in Northwestern Ontario, the ELA provides a real-world laboratory in which researchers can isolate the effects of specific pollutants on aquatic ecosystems. Over the past four decades, research conducted at the ELA has provided the scientific evidence-base on the environmental effects of acid rain, phosphorous and other pollutants that has informed policy within Canada and around the world. With new pressures like climate change, and poorly understood emerging environmental contaminants such as chromite, nanoparticles and endocrine disrupters, the logic for a research station like ELA is very strong.

"The ELA complements IISD's work in freshwater management," said Vaughan.

"If the ELA does come to IISD, we would work with other stakeholders to ensure it remains an independent, world-class research facility that continues to produce leading-edge freshwater ecosystems science in the public domain and in the public interest."

Vaughan assumed his role as IISD president and CEO at the beginning of April, following five years serving as the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development for Canada.


For more information or to arrange an interview with Mr. Vaughan please contact Nona Pelletier, IISD manager, public affairs at or +1 204 958 7740 or mobile +1 204 962 1303.
More about IISD, WIC and the ELA

About IISD

The International Institute for Sustainable Development is a non-partisan, charitable organization specializing in policy research, analysis and information exchange to further advance sustainable development globally. Through its head office in Winnipeg, and its branches in Ottawa, New York City and Geneva, IISD applies human ingenuity to help improve the well-being of the world's environment, economy and society. IISD creates and communicates innovative policy research for decision-makers in government, business and civil society. IISD is fundamentally committed to evidence-based policy making. IISD operates in four program areas, based in each of four physical locations as follows:

·       Natural and Social Capital (Winnipeg),

·       Climate Change and Energy (Ottawa),

·       Trade and Investment (Geneva),

·       Reporting Services (New York).

 About the Water Innovation Centre

The Water Innovation Centre is part of IISD's Winnipeg-based Natural and Social Capital Program. IISD launched the Water Innovation Centre (WIC) in 2009 as a global knowledge hub for water management, with the specific goal of developing a sustainable management strategy for the Lake Winnipeg Basin. Lake Winnipeg is one of the largest and most environmentally stressed lakes in the world, and a major sustainable development issue in IISD's home province of Manitoba.

In 2012, IISD's Water Innovation Centre received a Sustainia100 award for the Lake Winnipeg Bioeconomy Project, recognizing it as one of the world's 100 best sustainable development projects.  The Lake Winnipeg Bioeconomy Project transforms the issue of Lake Winnipeg eutrophication from a very difficult environmental challenge into a multi-billion dollar investment opportunity.

About the Experimental Lakes Area

ELA encompasses 58 freshwater lakes near Kenora, Ontario, Canada. The surface areas of each of the lakes and drainage basins are between one and 84 hectares. ELA serves as the only whole-lake laboratory in the world, which attracts scientists studying the impacts of stressors and pollutants from human activity and industrial development on freshwater lakes, streams and surrounding watersheds. Unlike other freshwater research facilities, as a restricted and remote area ELA has not been subject to interference and development, which presents considerable uniqueness for whole-ecosystem research.

The ELA value proposition is the opportunity for conducting whole-ecosystem, large-scale manipulations and experiments, and to effectively extrapolate research results to other systems. This is unprecedented globally.

Scientists at ELA provide multi-disciplinary expertise in: ecology, limnology, fisheries biology, water chemistry, geochemistry, radiation science, physiology, microbiology, toxicology, meteorology and hydrology. The diversity of expertise within the team facilitates a whole-ecosystem approach to research.

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.

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