Press release

Lake Winnipeg Basin Summit seeks made-in-Manitoba solutions: Leaders gather in Winnipeg

November 29, 2010

WINNIPEG—November 30, 2010—Scientists, policy-makers, researchers, business leaders and other stakeholders are meeting in Winnipeg this week to develop solutions for Lake Winnipeg that address environmental concerns and the related social and economic impacts.

The Lake Winnipeg Basin Summit, hosted by the International Institute for Sustainable Development's Water Innovation Centre (WIC) is focused on creating and taking advantage of opportunities for Manitoba's economy, while reducing the nutrient loading within the Lake Winnipeg Basin.

Over the past few years, IISD has worked with partners and other stakeholders to better understand Lake Winnipeg and its vast watershed.

"No one has as strong an interest in the health of Lake Winnipeg as Manitobans do," said Henry David (Hank) Venema, director of IISD's Sustainable Natural Resources Management program and WIC.

"Although other jurisdictions are involved we can't wait for the perfect plan that coordinates all the Canadian provinces and U.S. states—we have to lead. Half the nutrients originate within Manitoba and we have everything to gain in taking an aggressive leadership position," said Venema.

IISD believes an opportunity for Manitoba lies in harnessing "bioeconomy" principles for Lake Winnipeg nutrient management. A bioeconomy is an economy where the basic building blocks for industry are derived from renewable sources—the bioeconomy becomes the framework for implementing sustainable development. The key to Lake Winnipeg nutrient management is phosphorus recycling. Phosphorus is regarded as the noxious pollutant responsible for fouling Lake Winnipeg. However, it is, like potash, a resource, and it can be captured, recycled and transformed into high-value products.

"We know there will be no quick-fix," said IISD president and CEO Franz Tattenbach in an opening address to the meeting of 150 invitation-only participants at the two-day summit.

"What we need is a made-in-Manitoba-solution," Tattenbach said, adding that sustainable natural resource management is critical to the future of Lake Winnipeg and other environmentally stressed regions of the world. "What we do here can make a difference elsewhere."

Summit co-facilitator John Fjeldsted, executive director of the Manitoba Environmental Industries Association, said his role is to ensure Manitoba businesses have a constructive part to play in the process. "I was very pleased to be invited to take part in this summit. Too often Manitoba businesses have been excluded from the discussion. It's great to have a voice at the table," Fjeldsted said.

As part of his keynote address, Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger announced funding of $150,000 to support IISD's Netley-Libau Marsh Management Project.

For more information please contact Nona Pelletier, Media and Communications Officer, IISD
Phone +1 204 958-7740 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.