Fishing boats line the shore of a beach in Tanzania with people in the distance
Press release

Scientists from Two Continents to Work Together to Improve the Health of the African Great Lakes

The International Institute for Sustainable Development and the African Center for Aquatic Research and Education join forces to strengthen the global large-lakes scientific community.

September 15, 2020

ANN ARBOR, MI—World-class scientists and researchers from across North America and Africa will soon be putting their heads (and expertise) together to tackle some of the most pressing issues—algal blooms, climate change, invasive species, fragile fisheries, to name but a few—facing the African Great Lakes (AGL).

The AGL are highly valuable natural resources, renowned for their rich fisheries and "biodiversity hotspots." Consequently, they, and the ecosystem services they provide, underpin the welfare and livelihoods of over 50 million people across 10 countries.

This is all thanks to a new major partnership announced today between the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and the African Center for Aquatic Research and Education (ACARE). The IISD-ACARE collaboration will provide an opportunity for the world’s freshwater laboratory and networks on the African Great Lakes to come together and strengthen science on large freshwater resources and the countries in which they reside.

Despite the recognized importance of the AGL, these vital ecosystems and their livelihood support systems are threatened by the impact of human activity, such as overfishing and pollution at local, regional, and global scales.

To address some of the challenges on the African Great Lakes, IISD-ACARE, will combine the legal and policy expertise of IISD’s vast expert staff with ACARE’s African network of large-lakes experts in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

“We have recognized that no one organization, institution, or even country, can address the challenges that our global freshwater resources face. It is essential, therefore, to strengthen collaborations for leveraging the combined skills, assets, technologies and resources of public, private, and non-profit entities to deliver sustainable instruction, guidance, and research to protect these resources,” said Dr. Kevin Obiero, Chair, ACARE’s Board of Directors.

“Partnering with the International Institute for Sustainable Development will enhance our ability to strengthen science and positively affect policy and management on these critical resources and provide the experience of working with the global scientific community.”

Strengthening the IISD-ACARE approach is IISD’s Experimental Lakes Area (IISD-ELA)—the only place in the world where scientists can manipulate real lakes to understand what human activity does to fresh water. A series of 58 lakes and their watersheds in northwestern Ontario, Canada, IISD-ELA brings over 50 years of freshwater research like no other and policy analysis to inform decision making.

“ACARE has created a world-class, highly collaborative network of experts on each of the African Great Lakes,” said Dr. Matthew McCandless, Executive Director, IISD-ELA. “Resources from IISD and ACARE’s combined networks will allow us to accomplish three long-term goals: strengthening global and regional research partnerships; facilitating existing, and boosting new, transboundary and inter-jurisdictional lake advisory groups; and, strengthening the capacity of freshwater scientists through experiential education and public engagement.”

During its first year, the new partnership will boost the activities of six Advisory Groups that were created to address issues on each of the African Great Lakes (considered to be lakes Albert, Edward, Kivu, Malawi/Nyasa/Niassa, Tanganyika, Turkana, and Victoria). Members of each group are harmonizing priorities on the lakes to advance work on scientific inquiry, monitoring, climate change, and education and training, among other issues.

To learn more about the partnership and programs, click here.

For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Ted Lawrence, Executive Director, African Center for Aquatic Research and Education,

Sumeep Bath, Communications Manager, IISD Experimental Lakes Area,


The African Center for Aquatic Research and Education (ACARE) was established to help strengthen and harmonize science and information exchange through a highly collaborative network of freshwater experts.

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.