RECONNECT PEOPLE, LAND AND WATER IN ALTERED LANDSCAPES: “Together we keep raising our game. And so do our collaborators. Shared successes leads to more successes. There is a track record to continue building upon.” – A Short History of The Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia (November 2020)

Note to Reader:

The Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia, the non-profit society responsible for delivering the Water Sustainability Action Plan, has reached the 10-year milestone. To mark the moment, the Partnership published Celebration of Our Story: Genesis / First Decade / What Next.

Structured in two parts, “Our Story” first sketches an outline of many ideas and nuances about the work of The Partnership. The second part is a deeper dive into the story behind the story. It paints a picture that stretches over three decades. The strokes are broad-brush.

The reader will learn that the combination of a guiding philosophy, committed team members and timely actions built the foundation for The Partnership’s record of success. The Partnership’s mix of program initiatives are building blocks for reconnecting people, land and water.

Celebration of the Partnership Story:
Genesis / First Decade / What Next

“Incorporation of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia as a not-for-profit society on November 19th 2010 was a milestone moment. Incorporation culminated a multi-year effort; and signified a bold leap forward. The Partnership has not looked back. Now, our journey stretches over three decades,” states Kim Stephens, Executive Director.

“A group of like-minded and passionate individuals, including representatives of three levels of government, came together as a committee and created a ‘water roundtable; that evolved over time into The Partnership.”


Download a copy Celebration of Our Story: Genesis / First Decade / What Next

Right People in the Right Place at the Right Time

“The Partnership personifies what is envisioned by the term ‘collaborative leadership’. Expressed another way, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Is it good luck or good management when a group of individuals come together as a team? It is both. We share a vision for water-centric community development, guided by an understanding of how a community’s land ethic impacts on water,” continues Kim Stephens.

“Timing is everything. In 2002, revitalization of the BC water sustainability committee was coincident with a change in provincial government. It was the combination of the two that made it possible for us to champion alignment of efforts at cascading scales (provincial, regional, local) and pioneer a ‘top-down & bottom-up’ approach to collaboration. These concepts are foundation blocks for the Water Sustainability Action Plan.”

Charting a New Course

“Lynn Kriwoken played an instrumental role in the creation and launching of the Water Sustainability Action Plan. A true visionary, she immediately saw the value of the WSC as an advisory group to government at a time when BC was in transition after the 2001 election,” emphasizes Kim Stephens.

“Lynn connected the dots between her Ministry’s Service Plan and the Action Plan potential. There was a natural fit. Her advocacy within government was essential to securing a flow of provincial funding that got the ball rolling and resulted in a self-fulfilling prophecy. Without Lynn Kriwoken, there would not have been an Action Plan. It really is that simple.”

What Next / The Second Decade

In the Second Decade, a mix of Living Water Smart program initiatives delivered by The Partnership are building blocks for reconnecting people, land and water. These fall under four main program areas:
  • Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: The goal is that local governments would apply EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, to account for ecological systems and services in asset management strategies.
  • Local Government and Stewardship Sector Collaboration: When citizen talent is aligned with a local government that is visionary and focused, outstanding achievements are not only possible, but realistic.
  • Water Conservation & Resiliency Plans: With many plans in BC being more than 5 years old, a provincial requirement for plan updates provides a reason for local governments to use the new BC Landscape Water Calculator.
  • Interweaving of Western Science and Indigenous Knowledge: First Nations bring the spiritual dimension of water. When we are in tune with that way of reimagining water basics, it opens the door to reconnecting people, land and water (and ecology and hydrology too).
Blue Ecology, the ecological philosophy formulated by BC’s Michael Blackstock and recognized by UNESCO, is a water-first approach. Blue Ecology interweaves the best threads of Indigenous cultural knowledge and Western science into a stronger and more flexible system of knowledge. The Partnership embraces Blue Ecology.

A Short History of The Partnership

Download a copy Celebration of Our Story: Genesis / First Decade / What Next