POLIS Project at University of Victoria proposes new way to make decisions about BC’s freshwater resources


Note to Reader:

A Blueprint for Watershed Governance in British Columbia“, developed by the POLIS Project on Ecological Governance and published in January 2014, offers a path forward for how the Province of British Columbia could transform its current approaches to decision-making to ensure a more sustainable and resilient future. To download a copy, click here.


“A Blueprint for Watershed Governance in British Columbia”

A new model for British Columbia’s fresh-water management and policies, including improved accountability for decision-makers, is proposed in a report released by the POLIS Project on Ecological Governance at the University of Victoria.

The report focuses on current water governance issues and comes at a critical time as the Province of British Columbia prepares to replace its outdated Water Act with new legislation in the 2014 spring session. The POLIS report draws on leading examples of watershed governance from across Canada, and around the globe, and applies them to the BC context.

A Real Opportunity for Positive Change

“Over the past few years, the provincial government has led significant discussions about water management and policy reforms. This report takes the discussion a step further by addressing the complex details of who makes the decisions, and how Oliver Brandes_headshot_2013_120pdecision-makers can be held to account for the benefit of BC’s fresh water,” says Oliver Brandes, report co-author and co-director of the POLIS Project.

“This could be a real opportunity for positive change, particularly when it comes to engaging local communities in critical watershed decisions. It has the potential to ensure basic ecological health, such as minimum flows in rivers to keep fish alive and thriving.”

“Recognizing the unique institutional, legal, cultural, and geographic challenges of the province, this Blueprint outlines a timeline and clear milestones for moving towards watershed governance in BC.”

“The report proposes that water-management decision-making be aligned with the ecological boundaries of watersheds, instead of political lines on a map as the best way to achieve positive, long-term ecological, social and economic outcomes in BC.”

“The transformation in governance proposed in our blueprint will likely take a decade, at a minimum, but with these changes B.C. could have the potential to become a national, and even global, leader in freshwater protection and sustainability,” concludes Oliver Brandes.

10-Year Timeline for Action

1_jon-oriordan_120p“The blueprint sets out a strategic 10-year program and proposes nine winning conditions to ensure success,” continues co-author Dr. Jon O’Riordan, POLIS advisor and former deputy minister of BC’s Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management.

“Recognizing the unique institutional, legal, cultural, and geographic challenges of BC, we provide a clear timeline for successfully moving toward watershed governance to improve ecological resilience across the province.”

To Learn More:

To download a copy of the report, click on A Blueprint for Watershed Governance in British Columbia.

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