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Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia

CONTEXT AND HISTORY REALLY DO MATTER: “In the moment, extreme events can be overwhelming. But the big picture situation is by no means hopeless. My key message is to view climate change as another variable, not a driver. Understand the system context because climate adaptation is about water, whereas climate mitigation is about carbon,” stated Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC (Sept 2021)


“The risks are real. Droughts affect all of us. BC is on fire and streams are drying up. We do not have the luxury of time to implement solutions. And we certainly cannot afford to reinvent the wheel due to generational and/or corporate amnesia. Context and history really do matter because it takes a career to develop perspective and understanding of what works and what does not. Because there is no silver bullet, communities need to do many little things to adapt to the new climate reality,” stated Kim Stephens.

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HIDDEN VALUE OF INTERGENERATIONAL COLLABORATION: “My experience is that collaboration between the generations is easier than most people think and the generational differences are not that wide. Also, intergenerational teams are much more innovative,” stated Kate Rushton, UK-based community strategist


“Two years ago I attended my first intergenerational innovation challenge. It was not my last. Afterwards, I occasionally thought about this new way of working. It sparked my interest in intergenerational co-creation. Not only as a way to build bridges between generations but as a way to innovate in general. By using an older adult’s experience-based knowledge, which is known also known as deep smarts, and the younger generation’s fresh eyes and new perspectives intergenerational co-creation can help create more rounded solutions,” stated Kate Rushton.

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WATCH THE VIDEO: “The Partnership for Water Sustainability has its roots in government – provincial, federal, and most importantly, local government. Over three decades, the Partnership has evolved – from a technical committee in the 1990s,to a water roundtable in the first decade of the 2000s, to a legal entity in 2010,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership Executive Director, in his remarks as part of the Bowen Island Climate Conversation (July 2021)


“Incorporation of the Partnership for Water Sustainability as a non-profit society allows us to carry on the Living Water Smart mission. We are growing a network, not building an organization. In terms of my professional career as a water resource engineer and planner, I have been in the right place at the right time, and with the right people. In a nutshell, my responsibilities revolve around delivering the Water Sustainability Action Plan through partnerships and collaboration, through a local government network,” stated Kim Stephens.

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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA – THE SERIES: “Water literacy is key to building a stewardship ethic. It is about understanding where our water comes from and caring where it goes,” stated Lynn Kriwoken, (retired) Executive Director, BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy


Each week, Waterbucket eNews celebrates the leadership of individuals and organizations who are guided by the vision for Living Water Smart. Featured authors explore specific themes, with an objective of helping others make a difference in the communities in which they live. “While legislative reform is a foundation piece, collaboration takes place outside the legislative framework. Living Water Smart is about motivating and inspiring everyone to embrace shared responsibility. Influencing behaviour and attitudes is at the heart of moving from awareness to action,” stated Lynn Kriwoken.

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RECONNECT PEOPLE, FISH, LAND AND WATER: “At the end of the day, it often comes down to the right people in the right place at the right time, over time. When the stars are aligned, it can result in pure magic,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia, in his panel presentation at the virtual Living Soils Symposium hosted by Regeneration Canada (February 2021)


“The vision is to reconnect people, fish, land and water in altered landscapes. The big question is HOW we will pull this off. Decisions ripple through time. So it is imperative that we replace short-term thinking with a long-term view that extends out 50, 100 or more years. Instant gratification and quarterly reports are examples of the worst kinds of short-term thinking. That is what we have to replace with a career perspective. It takes a career to figure things out. And then we have to pass that understanding and wisdom on to the next generation,” stated Kim Stephens.

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MOVING TOWARDS A WATER-RESILIENT FUTURE: “Given the New Normal of floods and droughts in BC, we are at one of those ‘watershed moments’ in time where we need to challenge folks to elevate their horizons. We are at a tipping point. Will we adapt? Will we get it right? Will we restore balance to the water cycle?” – Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia, at the Annual Conference of Engineers & Geoscientists BC (October 2018)


Kim Stephens quoted the author Eva Kras: “Our present global and societal problem is that short-term thinking governs much of what we do. In many organizations, the long-term view has somehow become excluded over many generations. We need to re-learn basically ‘how we think’, using both the right (long-term) and left (short-term) hemispheres of our brain. Both are important, but the sad part is that we have convinced ourselves that the Left Hemisphere can do EVERYTHING.”

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FLASHBACK TO 1997: “Looking back, British Columbia’s Fish Protection Act was both a defining moment and a call to action. The consultation process led directly to the SmartStorm Forum Series. Guided by a vision for an ecosystem-based approach to land and water development, the series set in motion a chain of events. Their outcomes reverberated and have rippled through time,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability (1st in a series / January 2021)


“I recall quite clearly that Erik Karlsen and Peter Law were sitting to our right as Bill Derry and I spoke impromptu to the ‘fish pictures’. It caught my attention how animated they were as they kept turning to each other during Bill and my presentation. When we finished, Erik was the first to speak. ‘At last,’ he said, ‘we have the science that explains the relationship between changes in land use and the consequences for stream health’. Little did I realize in the moment that my life was about to change. Nor did I realize how profoundly Erik Karlsen would influence my career direction,” recalled Kim Stephens.

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FLASHBACK TO 2008 / SUMMARY REPORT ON COMOX VALLEY LEARNING LUNCH SEMINAR SERIES: “Create liveable communities AND protect stream health is the vision. To make it happen, a premise underpinning the series is that consistency in understanding of approaches and desired outcomes is best achieved by taking a professional development program into the places where local government practitioners work,” stated Kim Stephens, Water Sustainability Action Plan


“An action in Living Water Smart is that all land and water managers will know what makes a stream healthy, and therefore be able to help land and water users factor in new approaches to securing the full range of stream benefits. To that end, the Comox Valley series was conducted as a cumulative process, from philosophy to tools, in order to advance a regional team approach to rainwater management and green infrastructure. The desired outcome is that local government and private sector practitioners will make green choices that create liveable communities and protect stream health,” stated Kim Stephens.

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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)


Lynn Kriwoken played an instrumental role in the creation and launching of the Water Sustainability Action Plan in February 2004. A true visionary, she immediately saw the value of the an advisory group to government at a time when BC was in transition after the 2001 election. Her advocacy within government 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.

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BRITISH COLUMBIA’S PARTNERSHIP FOR WATER SUSTAINABILITY CELEBRATES 10-YEAR MILESTONE: “The Partnership’s guiding philosophy is to help others be successful. When they are successful, we are successful,” wrote Kim Stephens, Executive Director (November 2020)


“The Partnership is the hub for a convening for action network. We keep raising our game. And so do our collaborators. Shared successes leads to more successes. We judge progress by the distance travelled, not the distance remaining. We are optimistic about the future,” stated Kim Stephens. “In our Partnership programs, we focus attention on the 4Cs – communication, cooperation, coordination, collaboration. The 4Cs guide what we do. We live and breathe collaboration. This plays out in everything that the Partnership does. Building trust and respect starts with a conversation,” stated Kim Stephens,

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