Monday, June 15, 2009

U.S. & Canada To Update Great Lakes Agreement

Jun 13: At a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Boundary Waters Treaty between Canada and the U.S. in Niagra Falls, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the two countries have agreed to update the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. She said we have "to update it to reflect new knowledge, new technology, and, unfortunately, new threats."

She said, "The Agreement was last amended in 1987 and since then, new invasive species have appeared in our lakes, new worrisome chemicals have emerged from our industrial processes, our knowledge of the ecology of the region and how to protect it has grown considerably. In its current form, the Great Lakes Agreement does not sufficiently address the needs of our shared ecosystem. So I’m pleased to announce that Canada and the United States have agreed to update the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. We look forward to working closely with state, provincial, and local governments throughout Canada, as well as other stakeholders, in the coming months to produce an agreement that reflects our best knowledge and our unshakable commitment to preserving this vital natural resource.

"Now, as we work together on this, we must also strengthen our response to other environmental threats, especially climate change, one of the most urgent problems facing our world which endangers our world’s water sources, the safety of coastal regions, the future of agriculture and health, and the stability of communities everywhere. It is a paramount threat, and it demands effective and bold action, which can only be achieved through partnership. . ."

Great Lakes United applauded the announcement. John Jackson, Director of Clean Production and Toxics at Great Lakes United said, “Citizens and organizations from across the region have been calling on the Canadian and United States governments to truly commit to the binational protection of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. With this announcement I’m more optimistic than ever that our governments will reinvigorate their dedication to shared responsibility and stewardship over these vital waters. Any renegotiation must involve the public, and it must build a framework for addressing the issues that the Great Lakes will face over the coming years and decades. Making the announcement is the easy part. The real work has only just begun.”

Access the full text of Secretary Clinton's comments (click here). Access the press conference Q&A text (click here). Access a release from GLU (click here). Access a report on Great Lakes Governance from the Centre for Engineering and Public Policy at McMaster University (click here).