I am here speaking on behalf of a Working Group that has been initiated by the Canadian Water Resources Association (CWRA) and includes representatives of the Global Economic Forum Water Council, Toronto Dominion Financial Group, Canadian Rivers Institute from the University of New Brunswick, the University of Waterloo, Canadian Aquatic Resources of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Trout Unlimited Canada, Sustainability Resources in Alberta and the Fraser Basin Council in British Columbia.In 2008 the CWRA commissioned Rob de Loe of the University of Waterloo to explore options and opportunities for developing and implementing a Canada wide Water Strategy. The report outlines CWRA’s vision, and proposes an approach for developing such a strategy. The recommended approach is grounded in the assumption that broad participation from all stakeholders – inside and outside of governments – is required to develop and implement a meaningful Canada Wide Water Strategy. As a result, it is argued, the precise form and content of a ‘strategy’ cannot be specified in advance, but must be revealed as the process unfolds and developed by the participants.
Since the release of de Loë’s 2008 paper, very little has been published on the subject of a national water policy. Unlike the energy conversation, there have been no specific conferences or large scale workshops dedicated solely to the details of developing a national strategy.Instead, there have been smaller meetings such as the one held in Toronto in September 2010, where a “working group” of representatives from the University of Waterloo, the Canadian Rivers Institute, Trout Unlimited Canada, the TD Bank, Canadian Aquatic Resources, the Canadian Environmental Network, Fraser Basin Council and the CWRA convened. The idea of developing a Canada Wide Water Strategy emerged as a result of a ‘unanimous call for action’ at a September 29, 2010 workshop hosted by the CWRA in Toronto that included about 50 attendees from the private and public sectors. The ‘Call for Action’ that emerged from the Toronto Workshop emphasized that the development of a Canada Wide Water Strategy (CWWS) needed to be a collaborative process that included the federal, provincial and local governments, Aboriginals, the private sector and non-government interests and needed to be well funded to enable Canada wide participation. (i.e “people will buy into a vision if they see themselves in that vision!”).
If we are successful in coordinating a coast-to-coast citizen engagement process on defining “common water management principles, objectives, guidelines, and targets”
Considerable progress has been made during the past few decades in reducing pollution and overuse, and the importance of water for Canada’s environment, economy and society is now widely recognized by citizens, governments and, increasingly, corporations. The 2010 Canadian Water Attitudes Study was commissioned by RBC and Unilever Canada, and administered online by Ipsos Reid from February 17-23, 2010. It included a sample of 2,022 adult Canadians across Canada. Another poll conducted by Nanos Research recently released in an issue of Policy Options reveals that 61.6 percent of Canadians ranked fresh water as the country’s most important natural resource — ahead of forests, agriculture, oil and fisheries.
Over the past while, there are lots of Water related initiatives going on all across the country - some national, however, many are also provincially, territorially and even regionally based. These include an interest by the Assembly of First Nations in developing a First Nations Water Strategy.
This report, on the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy’s (NRT) National Water Forum, provides the start of an action plan that will make important contributions to the management and governance of Canada’s water resources. The NRT’s report, Charting a Course, Sustainable Water Use by Canada’s Natural Resource Sectors, brings together the ecological and economic importance of water — highlighting the need to improve water management and governance to ensure healthy ecosystems and prosperous natural resource sectors. The Forum brought together experts from across Canada in January 2012 to discuss the NRT recommendations in Charting a Course and provide advice on how they could be put into action.There was clear consensus among the experts and participants at the Forum that now is the time to begin acting on many of our recommendations for better water governance, exploring the use of water pricing and investing in water-use forecasting and data. Participants felt so strongly about the importance of these issues they developed a new recommendation to create a charter affirming the legitimacy of collaborative water governance processes.
Over a two-month period, Sandford talked to hundreds of Canadians, getting a first-hand account of the state of fresh water across the country – the first time since the 1980s that anyone has taken the national pulse on water.The 42-page report on the tour documents the growing need for solutions that transcend chronic jurisdictional challenges. The report - Cross-Canada Checkup: A Canadian Perspective on our Water Future, is co-authored by Jesse Baltutis of the University of Victoria’s POLIS Project on Ecological Governance, and Timothy Shah of Simon Fraser University’s Adaptation to Climate Change Team (ACT), with guidance from Sandford. Both POLIS and ACT were partners with FLOW for the tour and the report.“We must shift the narrative and action on Canada’s most precious resource to one that ensures the prioritization of water allocations for environmental flows, conservation of water for future generations, and collaborative decision-making processes”“We must create a vision for understanding the value of water and for using it in the wisest and most sustainable way possible, now and in the future”.
Despite the fact that water is crucial to Canada’s economic and social well-being, we have often failed to treat it with sufficient care. Overuse, degraded ecosystems and contaminated water bodies were long seen as the cost of doing business in Canada. Reasons are numerous, and include a long-standing myth of water abundance combined with a tendency to prioritize economic development over environmental protection.Other places have created “National Strategies” that have harmonized water management principles and led to restorative water management practices, increased public support and acceptance of decisions that support better water management.“In the event that a CNWS is created, Canada would be following in the path of jurisdictions such as New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Brazil and the European Union. These jurisdictions have developed overarching frameworks to address the water-related challenges they face, and to position themselves to respond more effectively to global challenges and opportunities. Their experiences suggest that it should at least be possible for Canadians to bring a national perspective to water management policies and practices.” Rob De Loe – Toward a Canadian National Water Strategy
Collaboration continues to be a very effective way to engage diverse interests and promote joint action leading to the development and acceptance of common goals. Some prominent examples are the remediation of the former copper and zinc mine at Britannia in British Columbia and the establishment of the recent Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance.Transparent and inclusive decision-making that seeks to address concerns of those affected typically:Gives rise to more complete and enduring solutionsReduces the likelihood of conflict and interventions later Promotes more harmonious communitiesEnhances public trust in governments and the private sector
In advance of funding, the Working Group has started to develop a website that intends to create the space for the Strategy to unfold.The Site does three things:Provides information on the background of the conversation about water in CanadaProvides a space for Water Leaders to come together and share ideas, expertise, post problems/issues and seek innovative solutions from each other.Provides a platform for community members, water leaders, and organizations to post updates, articles, and add content to the “background” discussion about water in Canada.
David Marshall - CWRA
2012 CANADIAN WATER SUMMIT Building A CanadaWide Water Strategy June 28th, 2012
National Strategies Report Canada West Foundation – June 1st, 2012 1. Recognizes call for “Canadian Strategy for Water/Energy/Health” 2. Stresses interconnected nature of energy and water policy in Canada 3. Water and energy relationship the limiting factor of the Canadian economy 4. What is “sustainable economic prosperity?
KEY ISSUES TO ADDRESS Jurisdictional fragmentation and conflicting mandates in water management across the country; Need for coordination and a common framework for decision-making; Consistent data and models to address growing risks of surface and groundwater depletion; Focus on effective adaptation to current and future climate-related stresses on water; and Public awareness of limitations on water availability and the need for conservation and careful management.
Proposed Elements Of A Canada Wide Water Strategy• Collaborative• Common Goals and Principles• Immediate Priority Actions• Adaptive and Responsive• Cognizant of Regional and Geographical Considerations
Next Steps For ACanada Wide Water Strategy • Develop Business Plan • Acquire Financial Support • Develop Strategy
www.Water4Canadabeta.ca Contact: Rick Ross – Rick@Water4Canada.ca Contact: Lisa Fox – firstname.lastname@example.org