Just as our fresh water flows across borders, our work stretches across nation and sectors.
IISD can influence how we manage fresh water like no other think tank on earth, because we create scientific understanding of fresh water at our very own freshwater science facility, which then informs the policy recommendations developed by our team of policy analysts.
In other words, we truly bridge science and policy.
First the science.
IISD Experimental Lakes Area is the world’s freshwater laboratory.
A series of 58 lakes and their watersheds in northwestern Ontario, Canada, IISD-ELA is the only place in the world where scientists can experiment on and manipulate real lakes to build a more accurate and complete picture of what human activity is doing to freshwater lakes. The findings from its over 50 years of ground-breaking research have rewritten environmental policy around the world—from mitigating algal blooms to reducing how much mercury gets into our waterways—and aim to keep fresh water clean around the world for generations to come.
Then comes the policy.
We then take those scientific findings, and develop policy and programming solutions for governments, civil society, and industry that protect and enhance the natural environment, keep our fresh water clean, while also improving socioeconomic well-being.
We conduct economic analyses and hydrologic assessments so that governments best understand all the options before making final decisions. And we support the management of watersheds across national boundaries, bringing all the relevant sectors and stakeholders to the table.
IISD Experimental Lakes Area
We are the world’s freshwater laboratory—the only place in the world where scientists can manipulate real lakes to understand what human activity does to fresh water.
Speaking Each Other’s Language
When it comes to communicating the research findings of the world's freshwater laboratory, we need to speak to communities in their own languages. Literally.
Here’s What the Laurentian and the African Great Lakes Have in Common
In this short video, we want to introduce you to the African Great Lakes, and explain why they matter to so many people—and why they may be more familiar than you think.
Floating Treatment Wetlands: Keeping our fresh water clean and healthy
This short, engaging storybook takes you through what Floating Treatment Wetlands are, and how they could really help us keep bodies of fresh water clean and healthy.
How to Protect Fresh Water from Oil Spills
This episode looks at what freshwater scientists are trying to accomplish by spilling oil into a remote lake and the unusual solution they've found to help clean up future oil spills.
Is It Raining Plastic?
We need more research to understand the effects of microplastics on our fresh water—and find solutions. That's where our team of experts come in.
Our work in the news
Why we should be concerned about antidepressants in our environment - Toronto Star
"We need to know more. Governments, scientists and the pharmaceutical industry must work together to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the effects on the environment of these drugs on which we have become so understandably dependent over the last year."
Experimental Lakes Area to partner with African researchers in 2022 - CBC
"A new program in northwestern Ontario could bring up to a dozen young, female scientists, who usually conduct their research on the other side of the globe, to the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA)."
‘Guerrilla ecologist’ David Schindler was a powerful defender of lakes and streams - Globe and Mail
"In 1973, Dr. Schindler and his team took a shower-curtain-like membrane and stretched it across a narrowing in Lake 226, which was shaped like an hourglass."
Experimental Lakes Area near Kenora gets $180K in federal funds for planned climate centre - CBC
"The Experimental Lakes Area east of Kenora, Ont., has received $180,000 in federal funding to help in the construction of the Centre for Climate and Lake Learning."
Food Web Biologist
Field Sampling Technician, IISD-ELA
Deputy Director, IISD-ELA
Policy Advisor – Data and Technology
Research Chemist, IISD-ELA
Fisheries Research Biologist, IISD-ELA
Research Scientist, IISD-ELA
Senior Biologist, IISD-ELA
Senior Director, Fresh Water & Executive Director, IISD-ELA
Head Research Scientist, IISD-ELA
Senior Research Scientist, IISD-ELA
Research Fellow, IISD-ELA
Director, Water Management
Biologist - Field Coordinator, IISD-ELA
Biologist – Ecotoxicology, IISD-ELA
Canada Is a Land of Lakes, but Is Falling Behind When It Comes to Tracking Their Health
If Canada, at a local level, is to contribute to an increasingly global understanding of the world’s environmental health, we need to put the work in.
Indonesia Should Assess Fisheries Support to Minimize Overfishing Risk
A new report suggests that certain government supports may incentivize overfishing in Indonesia. Experts say these should be prioritized for possible reform.
How to Protect Africa's Great Lakes
This episode introduces you to the African Great Lakes and explains why they matter to so many people.
Why we should be concerned about antidepressants in our environment
Antidepressants are a lifesaver for millions of people around the world. And here in Canada, we are certainly no stranger to their benefits — in fact, we often figure among the most common users of antidepressants in the world.
A decade of failing Lake Winnipeg
Meeting phosphorus license limits at Winnipeg’s North End sewage treatment plant? Neither difficult nor complicated. Just a simple problem that has become so mired in competing agendas and so obscured by decades of political showmanship that it’s now hard to sort out evidence from ideology.
African Researchers hopeful to come to ELA in 2022
Residents of Northwestern Ontario may see some unfamiliar faces around the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA), come next year.
Experimental Lakes Area to partner with African researchers in 2022
A new program in northwestern Ontario could bring up to a dozen young, female scientists, who usually conduct their research on the other side of the globe, to the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA).
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