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Water

Virtual Great Lakes Economic Forum Dialogues Slated for Fall 2020: Upcoming Events Address Water, Food Systems, Circular Economy, & Energy

July 9, 2020 | By |

“Seek first to understand,” said Stephen Covey, in his groundbreaking work, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “Then to be understood.” Some thirty years later, it’s still true, and the purpose of establishing a series of dialogues for the Great Lakes Region.

Starting in September, the Council of the Great Lakes Region will take the sessions originally intended for the Great Lakes Economic Forum, the 2020 in-person event in Chicago which was postponed due to Covid-19, and convert them to virtual round-table discussions.  Even in the midst of a global pandemic, CGLR remains committed to providing a forum in which leaders from business, government, non-profits, and academia can gather to bring diverse perspectives to focus on increased understanding of issues toward developing shared solutions.

The list of issues of highest interest to participants—all of whom will have an opportunity to contribute their expertise—will form the basis of the specific sessions. The following topics are the ones we anticipate will be of highest interest:

  • Water–specifically the impact of climate change on water levels from historic lows to historic highs in the span of a decade and the resulting implications on infrastructure, commerce, and property of one of the world’s most important fresh water basins.
  • Sustainable Food Systems—from farm to fork—and the requirements of every member of that vast system in one of the world’s most prolific producer of food and vegetables, and the required capital and materials, to grow, process, and distribute food for a hungry region and a hungry world.
  • Circular Economy—specifically the importance of curtailing the proliferation of plastic waste in the Great Lakes waterways, while at the same time identifying the necessary infrastructure, policy, and end markets to create a truly circular and sustainable system. 
  • Energy—specifically pathways for affordable, accessible, sustainable solutions throughout the Great Lake region, from the western tip of Minnesota to the eastern shore of Quebec.

If you are interested in attending and/or presenting at these sessions, or if you have a recommendation for another dialogues regarding the issue areas<link to issues>, please contact Laura Asiala (Laura@councilgreatlakesregion.org). 

The schedule for the fall events will be posted by August 1, 2020.

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International Joint Commission Boards Host July 17 Webinar: High Water Levels in Great Lakes

July 9, 2020 | By |

Interested in learning more about the historically high water levels in the Great Lakes? Attend the free webinar Friday, July 17 12:00 pm-1:30 pm (EDT) hosted by the International Lake Superior Board of Control, the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board and the International Niagara Board of Control.  The webinar will provide an overview of why the Great Lakes are at their current levels and how the International Joint Commission’s boards play a role in balancing the interests of all stakeholders impacted by water levels in the Great Lakes. While the event is virtual and free, registration is required:
https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/1398804598340053776

30 Jun

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$2.2 Billion Requested of Canadian Government to Address Flooding and Contamination in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence

June 30, 2020 | By |

Investment to foster a new green regional economy

On June 10, 2020, The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Collaborative released an Action Plan to Protect the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence, 2020-2030.

The Action Plan calls on the Canadian Federal Government to fund a forward-looking $2.2 billion 10-year roadmap to tackle some of the greatest environmental challenges facing this region. It also offers an effective means to kick-start the region’s economy today that is severely weakened by COVID-19 and to create long-lasting jobs in a new green economy. 

“For the first time ever, advocates, experts and indigenous groups from across the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence region have spoken with one voice, calling on the Government of Canada for a $2.2 billion investment to protect this massive and remarkable ecosystem where almost 20 million Canadians live and that binds us together by supporting our health and prosperity,” said Jean Cinq-Mars co-chair of the Great Lakes St Lawrence Collaborative and former Commissioner of Sustainable Development of Quebec.  

Action Plan 2020-2030 was developed with input from hundreds of experts and stakeholders in Quebec and Ontario, who forged a consensus on the investments needed to address some of the greatest challenges facing this exceptional but fragile ecological region. These include shoreline flooding and other climate change impacts, outdated wastewater infrastructure, exposure to toxic pollutants in the water, agricultural and urban runoff that feeds harmful algal blooms, and chronically contaminated beaches. Investments would benefit indigenous and non-indigenous coastal communities, such as Thunder Bay, Fort William First Nation, Chatham-Kent, Toronto, Clarington, Montreal, Kahnawake, Adanak Wolinak, Quebec City, Pessamit, Gespeg, and Sainte Flavie, Carleton-sur-mer, the Magdalen Islands among many others.  

Moreover, the Action Plan recommends innovative institutional arrangements to ensure alignment and collaboration amongst federal, provincial and local authorities and organizations, including: 

  • A cross-departmental federal task force to ensure financing and alignment efforts 
  • A Great Lakes Saint Lawrence Commission to coordinate federal, provincial, and local implementation of all recommendations 
  • An indigenous Great Lakes Saint Lawrence organization; 
  • Implementation teams 
  • Research and innovation centers and technical assistance teams to build knowledge and capacity throughout the region 
  • Regular oversight by the Federal Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development. 

“The US has already committed $2B over the past 10 years to Great Lakes protection,” said Gord Miller, co-chair of the Great Lakes St., Lawrence Collaborative and former Environment Commissioner of Ontario, “Canada needs to catch up, by putting money on the table to protect this globally significant remarkable ecosystem.” 

To learn more, contact Mark@councilgreatlakesregion.org

11 Jun

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Federal Government asked $2.2 billion to Address Flooding and Contamination in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence

June 11, 2020 | By |

Investment to foster a new green regional economy

Ottawa, CANADA, June 10, 2020 – The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Collaborative released today Action Plan to Protect the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence, 2020-2030.

The Action Plan calls on the federal government to fund a forward-looking $2.2 billion 10-year roadmap to tackle some of the greatest environmental challenges facing this region. It also offers an effective means to kick-start the region’s economy today that is severely weakened by COVID-19 and to create long-lasting jobs in a new green economy. 

“For the first time ever, advocates, experts and indigenous groups from across the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence region have spoken with one voice, calling on the Government of Canada for a $2.2 billion investment to protect this massive and remarkable ecosystem where almost 20 million Canadians live and that binds us together by supporting our health and prosperity,” said Jean Cinq-Mars co-chair of the Great Lakes St Lawrence Collaborative and former Commissioner of Sustainable Development of Quebec.  

Action Plan 2020-2030 was developed with input from hundreds of experts and stakeholders in Quebec and Ontario, who forged a consensus on the investments needed to address some of the greatest challenges facing this exceptional but fragile ecological region. These include shoreline flooding and other climate change impacts, outdated wastewater infrastructure, exposure to toxic pollutants in the water, agricultural and urban runoff that feeds harmful algal blooms, and chronically contaminated beaches. Investments would benefit indigenous and non-indigenous coastal communities, such as Thunder Bay, Fort William First Nation, Chatham-Kent, Toronto, Clarington, Montreal, Kahnawake, Adanak Wolinak, Quebec City, Pessamit, Gespeg, and Sainte Flavie, Carleton-sur-mer, the Magdalen Islands among many others.  

Moreover, the Action Plan recommends innovative institutional arrangements to ensure alignment and collaboration amongst federal, provincial and local authorities and organizations, including: 

  • A cross-departmental federal task force to ensure financing and alignment efforts 
  • A Great Lakes Saint Lawrence Commission to coordinate federal, provincial, and local implementation of all recommendations 
  • An indigenous Great Lakes Saint Lawrence organization; 
  • Implementation teams 
  • Research and innovation centers and technical assistance teams to build knowledge and capacity throughout the region 
  • Regular oversight by the Federal Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development. 

“The US has already committed $2B over the past 10 years to Great Lakes protection,” said Gord Miller, co-chair of the Great Lakes St., Lawrence Collaborative and former Environment Commissioner of Ontario, “Canada needs to catch up, by putting money on the table to protect this globally significant remarkable ecosystem.” 

To learn more or to arrange an interview please contact:

Mark Fisher, President and CEO, Council of the Great Lakes Region, mark@councilgreatlakesregion.org / 613-668-2044

31 May

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Cleaning Up Great Lakes Plastic Pollution via Innovative Materials Marketplace Platform: 2020 Pilots in Ontario

May 31, 2020 | By |

With financial support from Environment and Climate Change Canada, CGLR is spearheading two innovative projects targeting plastic litter in the Great Lakes and the loss of valuable materials to landfills in Ontario.

The first project employs two innovative technologies, the Seabin (https://seabinproject.com/) and LittaTrap (https://www.enviropod.com/), to capture and recover plastic debris at marinas along Ontario’s Great Lakes shorelines. The project is being rolled out in partnership with Pollution Probe, Boating Ontario, the University of Toronto Trash Team, PortsToronto, EnviroPod, Water Products and Solutions-America, and Poralu Marine.

The second project, undertaken in collaboration with the United States Business Council for Sustainable Development (USBCSD) and Pollution Probe, will use the USBCSD’s novel, cloud-based materials marketplace platform to create and pilot a materials marketplace in Ontario for the industrial, commercial, and institutional sector, a first in Canada. Once running, the marketplace will connect Ontario businesses and institutions to develop and scale new reuse and recycling market opportunities for hard-to-recycle and by-product materials, keeping their value in economy and out of our landfills. This project also aims to link Ontario’s materials marketplace pilot to existing marketplaces in Michigan and Ohio, creating regional trade opportunities and supporting the shift to a circular economy.

“We are pleased to support the Council of the Great Lakes Region in these two innovative projects aimed at not only protecting the Great Lakes from plastic pollution, but also preventing plastic waste by diverting valuable materials from landfills. These initiatives are in line with the Government of Canada’s goal to move the country to zero plastic waste, which includes working with industry and governments to recycle at least 55% of plastic packaging by 2030,” said Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada. 

Plastic litter in the Great Lakes and the loss of valuable materials to landfills is significant and results from a flawed, linear business model and poor recycling. This funding will help us shift to better, circular business systems while capturing and cleaning up plastic pollution already in the lakes.

The initial phase of these projects will run to March 31, 2021. Both projects are part of CGLR’s efforts to create a cross-border, circular economy in the binational Great Lakes region, home to 107 million people, the engine of the North American economy, and the largest freshwater system in the world.

According to the Rochester Institute of Technology, plastic debris accounts for around 80% of the litter found on the Great Lakes shoreline. In fact, each year, an estimated 22 million pounds of plastics enter the Great Lakes.

The University of Waterloo estimates curtailing Great Lakes plastic pollution could cost more than $400 million annually through beach and waterway cleanups, public anti-littering campaigns, and the development and deployment of advanced recycling and stormwater capture technologies.

During a recent PortsToronto pilot of Seabins in Toronto’s Outer Harbour Marina, a partnership with student researchers from the University of Toronto’s Trash Team, found that two Seabins collected up to two kilograms of litter per day, capturing a wide array of plastic pollution, including microplastics, and other debris.

With respect to the Materials Marketplace, the platform is currently in use by over 2,100 businesses and organizations across North America, 1,300 of which are doing business in the binational Great Lakes economic region.

Since its inception, the Materials Marketplace program has helped identify new end-markets for over 2,000 tons of hard-to-recycle materials and by-product materials, and is being used on a daily basis by leading companies to source recycled feedstocks to help reach recycled content and sustainability goals. The platform, designed by the USBCSD, received a Circulars: Digital Disruptor award from the World Economic Forum and a Project of the Year award from Environmental Leader in 2016.

About the Council of the Great Lakes Region

Established in 2013, the Council is a binational, member-driven, non-profit corporation that is dedicated to deepening the United States-Canada relationship in the Great Lakes economic region. It focuses on creating stronger, more dynamic cross-border collaborations in harnessing the region’s economic strengths and assets, improving the well-being and prosperity of the region’s citizens, and protecting the Great Lakes watershed for future generations. It achieves this by connecting regional leaders through the annual Great Lakes Economic Forum and sector dialogues, exploring key trends shaping the region and proposing solutions and strategies that move the region forward through public policy research, and acting as a strong voice for the region’s varied socioeconomic and environmental interests.

For more information, contact:
Mark Fisher
President and CEO
Council of the Great Lakes Region
613-668-2044 / mark@councilgreatlakesregion.org