Volume 22, Issue 3, 1997
November/December 1997

The International Joint Commission is an independent international organization established under the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909. Its purpose is to help prevent disputes over use of waters shared by Canada and the United States and to provide advice on questions of mutual concern when requested by the two federal governments. Three members are appointed by the President of the United States, with advice and approval of the Senate, and three by the Governor-in-Council of Canada, on the advice of Prime Minister.

Leonard Legault
Canadian Section Chair

Dr. Pierre Béland
Francis Murphy
Thomas L. Baldini
U.S. Section Chair

Susan B. Bayh
Alice Chamberlin



Environmental Challenges of the 21st Century

This issue of Focus is about setting a course for the future. In April 1997, the governments of the United States and Canada asked the International Joint Commission how we could best help the governments meet the environmental challenges of the 21st century. The Commission responded with several proposals in October 1997, after consulting with academic experts, scientists, all levels of government agencies and other stakeholders.

At the heart of the proposals is a system of international watershed boards stretching along the international boundary. The new boards would focus on the overall environmental integrity of each watershed -- water, land and air -- and monitor and report on all relevant concerns, including questions of habitat, biodiversity, exotic species and pollution from all sources. They would help to identify and address new issues before they develop into environmental crises or transboundary conflicts.

One environmental challenge that must be addressed is the injury to human health presently occurring in the Great Lakes basin, according to policy makers who attended a September 1997 workshop convened by the Commission's Great Lakes Science Advisory Board. Unless measures to clean up the sources and sinks of persistent toxic substances are undertaken on a more urgent basis, injury to human health will continue to occur. While many of these measures are likely to be expensive, the costs of delay are becoming increasingly evident.

FOCUS Staff:

Frank Bevacqua, Jennifer Day
Bruce Jamieson, Designer
Doug Bondy, Columns Editor

International Joint Commission
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International Joint Commission
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International Joint Commission
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Revised: 24 December 1997
Maintained by Kevin McGunagle, mcgunaglek@ijc.wincom.net