Press release

Stakeholders meet to review progress on action plan to contain nutrients in the Lake Winnipeg Basin

November 30, 2011

WINNIPEG—December 1, 2011—Scientists, policy-makers, researchers, business leaders, government representatives and other stakeholders met in Winnipeg Thursday to update progress on actions being taken to address the stressed condition of Lake Winnipeg and the related social and economic impacts.

The International Institute for Sustainable Development hosted the meeting to inform stakeholders about progress made in the development of a bioeconomy initiative as a critical component of an action plan to reduce the nutrient loading within the Lake Winnipeg Basin, while incorporating innovative approaches and economic benefits for Manitobans, such as the Netley-Libau Marsh project.

The meeting coincides with the anniversary of last year's Lake Winnipeg Basin Summit and unfortunately follows a year of serious flooding across Manitoba, which compounds the issue of nutrient loading in the lake. The meeting provides an update on project developments in the past year, including IISD's bioeconomy atlas concept—a roadmap for implementing bioeconomy opportunities across the province.

"The bioeconomy atlas will provide stakeholders with baseline data as the basis for a long-term action plan for the Lake Winnipeg Basin," said Franz Tattenbach, IISD president and CEO. "I am encouraged by the high level of interest from a wide spectrum of stakeholders as we continue to move forward."

Keystone Agricultural Producers policy analyst James Battershill said, "The bioeconomy atlas is a good step forward. It is a tool we can use to assist in the development of appropriate polices to help address water management, rural development and environmental issues."

Henry David (Hank) Venema, director of IISD's Natural and Social Capital program and Water Innovation Centre provided an update on the broader implications for the Lake Winnipeg bioeconomy initiative.

"The strategy is to develop a bioeconomy based on the principle that our water resources and nutrients, particularly phosphorus, are strategic resources that need to be harnessed and transformed into high-value products. The water and nutrients that we have in abundance will be key to our future prosperity and should become a critical component of the action plan to address the condition of Lake Winnipeg," he said.

Manitoba Chambers of Commerce president Graham Starmer said an economic approach to address the issues with the lake are supported by the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce as it aims to deliver on one of the promises of Manitoba Bold—an initiative to create new enterprises based on clean technologies that use renewable materials and energy sources.

"We are encouraged by the efforts of the institute's Water Innovation Centre and believe the development of a bioeconomy will encourage farmers, municipalities and entrepreneurs to make the investments necessary to improve the condition of Lake Winnipeg. We continue to encourage and call for strong leadership regarding our lake and its health," Starmer said.

Manitoba Innovation Council executive chair Jan Lederman said, "There is a compelling case to use innovative approaches to deal with Manitoba's ongoing problem of drought and flood, and help Lake Winnipeg at the same time."


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

For an interview with Graham Starmer, please contact Susan Barkman, director, policy and communications, the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce at +1 204-948-0103 or +1 204-948-0100.


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.