Convening for Action in British Columbia: Turning Ideas Into Action


CFA_Turning ideas into action

Water Sustainability Action Plan

Convening for Action (CFA) is one of six inter-connected elements that comprise the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia.  The Action Plan guides partners and participants from government and non-government organizations and communities across the province in promoting, informing and implementing water stewardship.

According to Raymond Fung, Chair of the Water Sustainability Committee that is spearheading the CFA initiative, “CFA is aimed at building capacity through improving awareness about effective approaches to the sustainable use of water resources and demonstrating how to integrate these approaches into land and resource planning, development and management decisions at the regional, community through to site levels.”

‘Convening for action’ calls for moving from defining the problems (the ‘what’), to determining options (the ‘so what’) and taking action to achieve results (the ‘now what’).

On-the-Ground Changes: The purpose of the CFA initiative is to ‘inform change’ in British Columbia through the combination of:

  1. Outreach Presentations
  2. Partnership-Building
  3. Regional Events
  4. Product Development

The desired outcome in convening for action is implementation of on-the-ground changes in:

  • Policies
  • Programs
  • Applied Research
  • Practitioner Education
  • Standards of Practice

CFA is practitioner-oriented in order to achieve changes in the way we develop the landscape and manage water.

Informing Change: CFA is building an informed community of practice. According to Kim Stephens, Program Coordinator for the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia, “The focus of CFA is on education as the means for shifting practice in British Columbia to address water use as an integral part of land use. CFA places emphasis on practitioner education so that practitioners will be more informed and will then become more responsive. An integral part of the  education process is to create a picture of what the future landscape can look like. If we agree on where we wish to be in one or two generations, then we can map out the route to get there.”

Practitioners are reached through relationships plus events. Producing valuable longer-term products (e.g. research and publications) will ensure that CFA events have successful outcomes.  Turning ideas into action is a three-step process:

  1. Challenge practitioners and others to step back from their existing paradigms (e.g. big pipe solutions, whether for water supply or drainage conveyance).
  2. Inform practitioners and others regarding alternatives (e.g. rainwater harvesting to augment water supply and/or reduce rainwater runoff volume).
  3. Give practitioners the tools and the experience to do things differently.

““WSC workshops not only introduce new paradigms and demonstrate new practices, they engage participants in exploring steps that are appropriate to their settings to carry these forward to promote water stewardship and achieve more sustainable outcomes.” added Erik Karlsen (Chair, Smart Growth on the Ground) who is collaborating with Kim Stephens in co-leading the CFA initiative.

The CFA initiative is funded by the Ministry of Environment and the Real Estate Foundation of BC, and is led by the Water Sustainability Committee of the BC Water & Waste Association

Coordination of CFA events generates momentum in two ways: each event builds on the last event and paves the way for the next; and coordination ensures consistent messaging.