GEORGIA BASIN INTER-REGIONAL EDUCATION INITIATIVE: “One can have implementation without integration, but implementation will likely be ineffective without integration,” stated Tim Pringle, Past-President of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia, when he explained the process for designing with nature in a systems context

Note to Reader:

There is no formal mechanism to enable or facilitate inter-regional collaboration in British Columbia. For the past decade, the Partnership for Water Sustainability has filled this gap in the southwest corner of the province, where 75% of the population lives, through the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative (IREI).

Launched in 2012, the IREI facilitates peer-based education among local governments located on the east coast of Vancouver and in the Lower Mainland. In 2016, five Regional Boards – Cowichan Valley, Nanaimo Region, Comox Valley, Capital Region, and Metro Vancouver – recommitted through 2021 to support inter-regional collaboration.

What Have We Learned: Look Back to See Ahead

“During the period between 2006 and 2011, the CAVI-Convening for Action on Vancouver Island program served as a ‘proof of approach’ for collaboration within a region. By 2012, the partner regions were primed for formal collaboration between regions,” explains Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia.

“Creation of the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative, known by the acronym IREI, supported by Regional Board Resolutions, was a bold leap forward in 2012. This unique mechanism for inter-regional collaboration seeks to bridge the “implementation and integration gap”. It does this through a peer-based, collaborative education process.

Inter-regional sharing & learning helps everyone

“The Partnership asked five Regional Boards to endorse and support the IREI through commitment of staff resources because ‘collaboration would result in alignment and a consistent approach to Rainwater Management in a Watershed Sustainability Context. This would help everyone to go farther, more efficiently and effectively’.”

Benefits of Collaboration:

“The IREI concept resonated because benefits were clear and outcome-oriented:

  • Align workloads.
  • Share tools and resources.
  • Achieve more with the same resources.”

‘The Cowichan Valley Regional District hosted the IREI launch event – a Water Balance Forum – in March 2012. This was followed by Water Balance Workshops in the other regions.”

IREI spotlight is on bridging the “Implementation and Integration Gap”

“The purpose of the IREI is to learn and apply what ‘designing with nature’ looks like in practice. The process involves drilling down from the vision and goals of a regional plan to explore the ‘how-to’ details of implementation and integration,” stated Tim Pringle, Partnership President, in 2012.

“Integration means a holistic approach to use and conservation of land and water. It encompasses physical infrastructure, the built environment, and the ecosystems within which we work and recreate. And it includes all practitioners whose profession, work, volunteer role or responsibility as a landowner affects land and water sustainability.”

Regional Water and Watershed Initiatives

The image below identifies the set of regional initiatives that formed the foundation for inter-regional collaboration. Each region was at a different point of understanding on the watershed health continuum.

Prior to 2012, each IREI partner region had typically established its vision and goals for water and watershed sustainability through a community consultation process.

“Each region faces implementation challenges due to the gap between awareness of what should be done versus ensuring action on the ground. Bridging the gap is the IREI focus for the 5-year period 2012 through 2017. A program goal is to help all regions move forward with consistent and effective ‘implementation and integration’ on the ground,” Tim Pringle explained.

To Learn More:

Click on the image below. Also, download a copy of Rainwater Management in a  Watershed Sustainability Context About the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Educational Initiative for “Integrating the Site with the Watershed and the Stream”It is structured in four parts, with each part providing increasingly more detail.




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