As part of its overall strategy to obtain advice and insight on progress under the Canada-United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the International Joint Commission (IJC) arranged a series of sessions with representatives of various societal sectors in the Great Lakes basin. The information received will be used to help the IJC prepare its Ninth Biennial Report on Great Lakes Water Quality, scheduled for release in 1998. Presented here is a summary of the session held with industry representatives in Windsor, Ontario on June 12, 1997.
|Werner Braun||Council of Great Lakes Industries|
|George Kuper||Council of Great Lakes Industries|
|Joseph Chadborne||Cleveland Advanced Manufacturing Program|
|Mary Chadborne||Cleveland Advanced Manufacturing Program|
|Rahumathulla Marikkar||Interface Flooring Systems (Canada), Inc.|
|Leonard Legault||Chairman, Canadian Section, International Joint Commission|
|Tom Baldini||Chairman, United States Section, International Joint Commission|
|Pierre Béland||Commissioner, International Joint Commission|
|Alice Chamberlin||Commissioner, International joint Commission|
|Frank Murphy||Commissioner, International Joint Commission|
|Susan Bayh||Commissioner, International Joint Commission|
|Ted Bailey||Engineering Advisor, International Joint Commission|
|M.P. Bratzel, Jr.||Physical Scientist, International Joint Commission|
|Murray Clamen||Secretary, Canadian Section, International Joint Commission|
|Jennifer Day||Public Information Officer, International Joint Commission|
|Jill Eynon||Special Assistant, International Joint Commission|
|Rudy Koop||Research Advisor, International Joint Commission|
|Doug McTavish||Director, Great Lakes Regional Office, Intl. Joint Commission|
|Geoffrey Thornburn||Economics Advisor, International Joint Commission|
|Garwood Tripp||Communications Advisor, International Joint Commission|
The discussion focussed on the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and related issues. Given the Agreement's commitment to restore, preserve and protect the Great Lakes basin ecosystem, the Commission sought the participants' input on seven questions. These are presented below, along with the insight and advice provided by attendees from the business community.
1) How well are the governments living up to their commitments under the Agreement?
The governments are doing a great job. The policies they have formulated have achieved tangible progress and results in the Great Lakes basin that are second to none. However, not enough progress has been made and challenges remain.
Regulations are important to help prevent pollution, and more regulations may be needed to meet future challenges. However, regulations that spell out the goal rather than what must be done to get there are preferable; the latter stifle innovation and creativity.
There is a clear place for volunteerism alongside regulations. Volunteerism builds consensus and needs to be nurtured.
The Binational Virtual Elimination Strategy allows opportunity to follow different routes. Nonetheless, concerns were shared about falling short of the strategy's goals. Monitoring, auditing and reporting are too general to know whether steady progress is being made; clearly defined baselines and targets are required. Government and business may differ on priorities and the details of how to get there, but solutions must be found together. There is optimism for the strategy's implementation phase.
2) Where should the Commission's efforts be placed? Are there things we each should be working on that we aren't at present?
IJC has respect and should exercise leadership, for instance, to build consensus, essential in formulating policy recommendations. A key is cooperation. Business wants to be part of the process and IJC appreciates industry's contribution to the environment and the economy. However, various stakeholders -- the Council of Great Lakes Industries (CGLI), environmental nongovernment organizations and others -- have apprehensions. IJC is in a position to allay such apprehensions and hindrances to achieving the Agreement purpose.
3) How can we better work together to the mutual benefit of the Great Lakes basin ecosystem?
CGLI can prepare a list of impediments that keeps it and IJC from working together. One concern is how IJC selects industry people to be involved with IJC activities, for example, appointments to the Science Advisory Board. The process could be enhanced.
The advice that IJC receives from diverse sources must be balanced. Regarding industrial input, CGLI asked for a list of issues on which IJC would like greater advice and insight. Questions were asked about the IJC process once advice has been received. To be credible however, IJC must preserve its independence.
4) What significant developments in the field of pollution prevention have occurred in the Great Lakes basin during the past decade and what are the driving factors behind these developments?
A variety of initiatives have achieved chemical load reductions in both the U.S. and Canada. In aggregate, the Great Lakes states are above the U.S. average. ISO 14000 is a significant development; there may be opportunities here for IJC as well as industry.
5) What do you see as the main requirements and obstacles related to further progress?
Small- and medium-sized companies often do not know the regulatory requirements are or how to comply with them. Large companies have an obligation to voluntarily work with such companies to move the environmental needle toward improvement. They have to "walk the talk."
CGLI is trying to bridge this gap by making resources and experiences of big companies available to small-and medium-sized companies. The key is to get people together to create awareness and promote cooperation and consensus.
6) What are you doing to fulfill the Agreement purpose, that is, how do you perceive your role and contribution?
Emphasis must be on prevention at source. Interface Floor Coverings is using creative solutions to eliminate pollution, recycle waste yet still meet the needs of the customer. The result is better human health, reduced stress and an improved work environment. Mechanisms are needed to pass such solutions on to others to find substitute, preventive technologies. Further labelling of emission numbers on products can help to bring customer demand for voluntary zero emission targets and create a level playing field for industries committed to the environment.
The Cleveland Advanced Manufacturing Program (CAMP) is also working on information and technology transfer to limit toxic chemical pollution in the basin. CAMP is focussing its efforts primarily on small sources that are below the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) reporting thresholds. CAMP has just received awards from the Joyce Foundation and Great Lakes Protection Fund to conduct nine workshops in the U.S. and Canada to demonstrate non-toxic cleaning technologies for manufactured products and to offer follow-on technical assistance to help small businesses make the transition from toxic chlorinated solvents to non-toxic water-based systems. CAMP will join with staff from the U.S. Small Business Administration and the National Institute of Standards and Technology to offer support to those small businesses as they consider, test and install new non-toxic technologies. The workshops will take place from 1997-2000.
Many problems in Areas of Concern are sediment related, and sediment cleanup is a top priority. Many industries feel a responsibility to clean up sediment problems they have caused and be part of the remedial effort. The CGLI has a policy in this area and will try to facilitate remediation. However, on the U.S. side, industrial involvement could constitute potential liability.
7) Are there other topics you would like to bring to the Commission's attention?
To update or renegotiate the Agreement would require a large amount of time and effort. Instead, we should look for opportunities to achieve its purpose.