Columbia Basin Watershed Governance

Watershed governance is rapidly emerging as a critical, cross-cutting priority. Water security and sustainability and watershed health and function affect us all….new modes of thinking and innovative processes for decision-making are urgently needed, with practitioners, governments, and experts from a broad spectrum of disciplines and sectors recognizing the importance of watershed governance. -John Ralston Saul

In September 2013, Living Lakes Canada hosted a provocative and inspiring ’Think Like a Watershed’ Symposium with the Columbia Basin Watershed Network. Living Lakes Canada connected water stewardship groups, academia, policy experts, scientists, local and provincial government, industry and First Nations to talk about the need for better watershed governance  in the region. The keynote speaker, celebrated Canadian intellectual and author, John Ralston Saul, highlighted the need for a new cross-cultural narrative to change the ways we think about water, and on which to base a foundation for mutual respect, meaningful First Nations participation, and the beginnings of a water ethic which recognizes water as a public trust and essential for our survival.Watershed governance is where democracy meets community. A systems approach, it strengthens collaboration between citizens, communities and decision-makers at the watershed level.

The July 2013 publication ‘The State of the Water Movement in BC‘ states: “British Columbia has the potential to become a global leader in freshwater protection by establishing a new approach to governance that emphasizes watersheds and builds on the strengths of local leadership, community capacity, and a stewardship culture for fresh water. This could best be achieved through a combination of locally tailored watershed boards co-managed with First Nations and strong provincial oversight, support, and enforcement.”

With attention being paid to the Columbia River Treaty and the new BC Water Sustainability Act, the Columbia Basin has become a hotspot of dialogue on how we currently make decisions around water. Not surprisingly, high water literacy exists in the area due to the hard work of the many water stewardship groups, actively doing outreach and raising awareness around water issues.

Watch our three part video series—the aim of these videos is to extend and continue this urgent cross-cultural conversation on watershed governance in the Columbia Basin:

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