UN 2023 Water Conference - virtual side event: Fostering Resilience Through Cooperation in Transboundary Waters
Now more than ever, effective cooperation is vital to ensure decision-makers have the tools to respond to rapidly evolving water challenges, particularly in waters shared along international boundaries. Inviting the knowledge and collaboration of those who are sustained by these waters – including Indigenous Peoples – is essential to these efforts, which are built upon an adaptive management approach.
This 2-hour virtual side event, linked to UN 2023 Water Conference themes 3 (climate resilience) and 4 (transboundary water cooperation), will illustrate how greater collaboration across borders – scientific, cultural, and economic – can promote the more resilient management of shared waters in an era of climate change.
Four presentations and case studies – spanning South America, Europe, and North America – will highlight the value of bringing diverse and competing interests together to learn from one another, collect data, discuss and analyze impacts, and cooperate on the sustainable management of shared waters.
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm (ET)
Welcome and opening remarks
Dr. Christopher Wilkie, International Joint Commission
Christopher Wilkie (IB, UWC Atlantic; BA Hons [Political Studies], Queen’s University; MSc [Economics], London School of Economics; DPhil [International Relations], University of Oxford) joined the International Joint Commission in 2021. Previously, he served as Canadian Ambassador to Algeria (2019-2021) and to Morocco (and Mauritania) from 2009 to 2012. Dr. Wilkie has represented Canada in senior capacities on international trade and other issues, including at the WTO and UNCTAD, and as chief negotiator for FIPAs (foreign investment promotion and protection agreements) with China, new EU member states and other countries. He also led Canadian Government representation to the IJC from 2012-2017. In addition to publishing widely on international trade, corporate social responsibility, and global governance, Chris has also worked at the Privy Council Office and Industry Canada in Ottawa, for the OECD in Paris, and for strategic consulting firms in Canada and Europe.
Presentation 1: Lessons from the 25th International River Symposium (Vienna, Austria): Bringing together science, business, communities, NGOs and government to advance international efforts towards resilient rivers.
Philip Weller, International River Foundation
Philip Weller is a board member of the International River Foundation (Brisbane Australia) and co-convenor of the recently held 25th International River Symposium (Vienna in November 2022) on behalf of IRF and the International Association of Water Service Companies of the Danube Catchment. He is an environmental planner by training and has had extensive experience in the management and running of both non-governmental, and governmental programs associated with the protection of the environment, and water resources in particular. He was Executive Secretary of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) from 2002 to 2012 and an author of three books related to environmental themes: Acid Rain: The Silent Crisis; Chemical Nightmare; and Freshwater Seas: An Environmental History of the Great Lakes of North America.
Presentation 2: Safeguarding freshwater resources through regional engagement, innovation, and exchange (Canada – United States).
Mark Fisher, Council of the Great Lakes Region
Mark Fisher became the President and CEO of the Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR) in 2014, which comprises CGLR Canada, CGLR USA and the CGLR Foundation. Immediately prior to joining CGLR, he served as a foreign policy advisor in the Privy Council Office, which supports the Prime Minister of Canada and the federal Cabinet, where he focused on advancing Canada’s interests in North America and the Asia-Pacific region. Mark has extensive experience advising senior government, corporate, academic and NGO leaders on a range of pressing socioeconomic and environmental issues facing their sector, as well as the pathways and dynamic collaborations required to address them. In addition to CGLR, he is an elected school board trustee with the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, is a member of the International Joint Commission’s Great Lakes Water Quality Board, and is a director on the board of Easter Seals Ontario. Mark is also a recipient of the Royal Canadian Legion Cadet Medal of Excellence.
Presentation 3: Towards a Blue Pact for the Lake Titicaca basin (Bolivia-Perú): Bringing civil society, government, and water users together to strengthen the sustainable management and use of transboundary waters.
Vladimir Arana, International Secretariat for Water
Vladimir Arana is the Programs Coordinator for the International Secretariat for Water, a not-for-profit international organization working for over 30 years on the Right to Water, access to water and sanitation, basins citizenship, transboundary water management, water advocacy, ecosystems services, and citizens’ participation in decision-making with special attention to youth. A former university professor, Vladimir has also worked as an environmental adviser for CARE international; served as a General Manager with Peru’s Ministry of Housing, Construction and Sanitation; and as a water and urban development adviser for the Latin American Development Bank, among other positions. He has completed urban planning and landscape architecture studies in the United States, M.Sc. studies in Sweden, and doctoral research in Canada. Author of books and articles related to water, environment, and development, Vladimir is also an equestrian trainer, pisco producer, painter, and musician.
Presentation 4: Supporting sustainable decision-making through public engagement (United States-Canada): Learning from those most impacted by severe flooding in the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River region.
Commissioner and Canadian Chair Pierre Béland, International Joint Commission
Pierre Béland is the Canadian Chair and a Commissioner to the International Joint Commission. A scientist in environmental biology and toxicology, he is best known as an expert on the conservation of beluga whales. He was a founder and research scientist with the St. Lawrence National Institute of Ecotoxicology, an NGO dedicated to research and education on toxic compounds in estuarine ecosystems. Dr. Béland has published three books, numerous scientific and popular articles, has hosted a TV series on the environment, and participated in several documentary films. He served for ten years as a Commissioner for BAPE, the Quebec environmental assessment Board. Dr. Béland headed the Fisheries Ecology Research Center with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and was a paleoecologist with the National Museum of Nature. Dr. Béland holds a BA and a BSc from Laval University (Quebec City), and a PhD from Dalhousie University (Halifax). He was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at ORSTOM Centre, New Caledonia, and at the University of Queensland, Australia. He resides in Montreal, Quebec and is fluent in French and English and proficient in Mandarin.
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