From September 25 to 29, the International Joint Commission was in Niagara Falls, Ontario, conducting public engagement activities, including participating in the Canadian and United States governments’ Great Lakes Public Forum.
Hosted by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), the forum featured three days of sessions to discuss the state of the lakes, progress made under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and proposed priorities to guide science and actions over the next three years.
The IJC at the Great Lakes Public Forum
One of IJC’s responsibilities is to assess progress made by the governments toward protecting and restoring the Great Lakes. As part of that role, IJC seeks input from the public on the progress report of the US and Canadian federal governments, called the Progress Report of the Parties (PROP).
The IJC held two listening sessions at the forum to consider input on the 2022 PROP. Wednesday afternoon’s session focused on examining the current realities of water quality in the Great Lakes. Thursday morning’s session focused on building on existing strengths and identifying opportunities moving forward. During these sessions, IJC Commissioners heard input on a wide variety of topics, including current and emerging chemicals of mutual concern, the impacts of climate change, and the need for greater engagement with youth, Indigenous peoples and communities of color.
Beyond the IJC’s sessions at the forum, Commissioners had an opportunity to meet one-on-one with ECCC Minister Steven Guilbeault and USEPA Regional Administrator Debra Shore to discuss key Great Lakes water quality issues. Additionally, IJC Canadian Co-chair Pierre Beland and acting US Co-chair Robert Sisson had the opportunity to speak at the forum’s reception.
USEPA Region 5 Administrator Debra Shore and USEPA Great Lakes National Program Office Director Chris Korleski with IJC Commissioners and IJC Great Lakes Regional Office Director Heather Stirratt at an evening reception for the Great Lakes Public Forum. Credit: IJC
IJC Public Meeting
Regional Chair for Niagara Jim Bradley shares opening remarks at IJC’s public meeting in Niagara Falls. Credit: IJC
In the evening on Wednesday, September 27, the IJC hosted a hybrid public meeting at the Niagara Falls Convention Centre. The meeting opened with remarks from local dignitaries, including Six Nations of the Grand River Chief Mark Hill, Member of Provincial Parliament for Niagara Falls Wayne Gates, Regional Chair for Niagara Jim Bradley and Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati. Following the remarks, the meeting focused on exploring the current reality of water quality in the Great Lakes, building on existing strengths and identifying opportunities moving forward. Commissioners received input from the public on topics including groundwater, nutrient run-off, radionuclides and how the introduction of wind turbines may impact Lake Erie.
A recording of the public meeting is available for those who were unable to attend.
We would like to thank everyone who shared their input with the IJC. If you missed us in Niagara Falls and have input to share, consider signing up for an upcoming fall webinar series, completing a survey or submitting a written comment. The IJC is accepting input on the 2022 Progress Report of the Parties until December 23, 2022. For more information about how you can provide your feedback, visit: ijc.org/2022-Great-Lakes-Progress-Input.
Rachel Wyatt is the communications officer at the IJC’s Great Lakes Regional Office.