Section 10: Research and Development (Annex 17)
Since there is no mechanism in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement to set priorities and implement research programs as delineated in Annex 17, the designation by the Parties of lead agencies with the authority and resources to support Annex 17 would allow for an organized, binational approach to more comprehensively meet the annex requirements.
Annex 17 does not place priorities on the research it delineates to support the needs of the Agreement. The Annex requires the Parties to the Agreement to conduct research in coordination with state and provincial governments, but it does not identify lead agencies with responsibilities for binational coordination. Workshops and conferences sponsored by agencies throughout the Great Lakes basin foster collaboration, but there is no effort specifically targeted at Annex 17 goals.
In order to measure the level of research activity in support of the Agreement,
the Commission's Council of Great Lakes Research Managers established a Research
Inventory to assist research managers and serve as a networking tool. The Research
Inventory can be used to discern the level of support directed toward various
fields of research, which can be useful in determining future research agendas.
Areas that have less measured activity than others can be identified, leading
to a constructive debate over whether support should be increased.
When Research Inventory data from 1993 were compared to current data, trends in areas of emphasis in Annex 17 indicated increasing support for the goals listed in subparagraphs (d), (g), (h) and (l). A relatively high degree of emphasis continues to be placed on studies related to the impact of water quality and of alien invasive species on native fish and wildlife populations and habitats. Data from the inventory, however, indicate that two areas of Annex 17 continue to receive little emphasis in the basin: subparagraph (b) Development of Load Reduction Models in the Great Lakes and subparagraph (k) Development of Action Levels for Contamination that Incorporate Multi-Media Exposures and the Interactive Effects of Chemicals. It is possible that this research is being undertaken within or outside the Great Lakes and is not captured by the Research Inventory. Therefore, this issue merits further investigation.
In order to properly support all goals set in Annex 17, a more proactive approach to research management is needed. It will not be possible to manage priorities in research and development effectively without a binational mechanism in place to implement and support related research programs.