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.
Natural Infrastructure for Water Solutions (NIWS)
Put simply, it’s about looking after nature, so nature can look after us.
What are the African Great Lakes?
Whatever you know about Africa’s Great Lakes, sit back and allow us to explain all—in under 3 lil' animated minutes…
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.
Let’s Talk About Natural Infrastructure…
Allow us to take you on a whirlwind tour of Pelly’s Lake in southern Manitoba, Canada, where the marvels of natural infrastructure are already being felt.
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.
Our work in the news
Freshwater fish can recover from mercury pollution in just a few years - New Scientist
"Yet little is known from observations about how fast mercury levels decline once the pollution stops. To find out, the team ran a study in the Experimental Lakes Area in Ontario, Canada, a remote set of lakes set aside for science."
Experimental lake shows fish populations can recover quickly from mercury contamination - Science Magazine
"Now, a 15-year study of an experimental lake shows reducing mercury pollution that entered the ecosystem caused concentrations of the toxin in fish populations to drop substantially within only a few years. "
Animals and their DNA move through the environment in different ways - Massive Science
"Environmental DNA (or eDNA) is all the rage in ecology. Animals create and shake off DNA every day, leaving tracks as to where they’ve been. The DNA that has been shed into the environment can be sampled and tested later."
Here's what some Canadian researchers did during their summer of science - CBC Quirks and Quarks
"This summer Haley Moskal spent her summer studying those same lakes, to gather data on what is emerging as an environmental success story."
Food Web Biologist
Field Sampling Technician II, IISD-ELA
Deputy Director, IISD-ELA
Research Chemist, IISD-ELA
Scientific Data Officer
Fisheries Research Biologist II, 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 II - Ecotoxicology, IISD-ELA
New Initiative to Boost Natural Infrastructure for Communities across Canada’s Prairies to Launch Tomorrow
A new 5-year initiative to scale up natural infrastructure in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba to ensure cleaner water and resilient communities launches tomorrow.
Local student wins prestigious international award
A Grade 12 student from Sarnia’s St. Patrick’s High School has won the top prize at an international water awards ceremony in Stockholm. Annabelle Rayson represented Canada on Tuesday by receiving the prestigious 2022 Stockholm Junior Water Prize.
Sarnia student's science fair entry wins international prize
A Sarnia high school student has won top prize at an international science fair competition. Annabelle Rayson, a Grade 12 student at St. Patrick’s Catholic high school, was named the winner among 36 international entries at this year’s Stockholm Junior Water Prize Awards for her project, which was also a winner at the Canada-wide Science Fair and Lambton County Science Fair.
New report highlights ways to fill Canada's phosphorus gap amid global supply constraints
In 1669, German alchemist Hennig Brand was looking for a way to create gold when he boiled down gallons of urine and heated the smelly residue to a high temperature. The result was not the hoped-for precious metal but a pale solid that glows in the dark and burns brilliantly when exposed to air. Brand dubbed his discovery phosphorus, the Greek word for "light bearer."
Lake research station receives 5-year grant
The IISD Experimental Lakes Area fresh water research station near Kenora has received a federal operating grant of $11.7 million to be spread over the next five years.
Critical Funding Awarded to IISD Experimental Lakes Area to Foster Canadian Innovation in Science
IISD Experimental Lakes Area (IISD-ELA) is thrilled to announce that it has been awarded CAD 11.7 million over the next five years from the Government of Canada through its Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) Major Science Initiatives Fund.
Province keeps spotlight on invasive species
Be alert Manitobans: invasive species are seeking to tag along on your beach and fishing trips. Zebra mussels, rusty crayfish and spiny water fleas are the three main aquatic invasive species on the province’s radar. To prevent the spread, Candace Parks, aquatic invasive species specialist, said Manitobans should clean, drain and dry anything that goes in the water, be it boat, kayak or inflatable toy.
The looming “water crisis” in Pakistan needs due attention
Traditional security threats faced by Pakistan like extremism, terrorism, energy security, and external threats are largely discussed and debated in the policy circle as well as a political circle in Pakistan. However, non-traditional security threats are not getting due attention. Pakistan is facing numerous non-traditional threats and arguably the biggest threats are water scarcity and climate change.
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