Protecting Shared Resources
It takes vision and commitment for nations to temper their self-interest and manage shared resources cooperatively.
Yet for more than a century, the United States and Canada have worked together to prevent and resolve conflicts over the hundreds of rivers and lakes that lie along or flow across the 8,800-kilometer (5,500-mile) border between the two countries.
This approach has successfully addressed transboundary issues such as polluted beaches, contaminated fish, damage to shoreline properties, and flooding and drought.
The key to this long history of cooperation is the International Joint Commission (IJC).
An independent, science-based body
In 1909, Canada and the United States signed the Boundary Waters Treaty, which created the IJC, because national leaders recognized that each country is affected by the other's actions in lake and river systems along the border.
With three commissioners from each country, the IJC finds science-based, independent solutions to transboundary conflicts, balancing competing interests in pursuit of the common good. This mission was reaffirmed with the signing of an updated Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement in 2012.