Convening and Collaborating

Series of recent events offers variety of perspectives on water management and governance

Published On: May 11th, 2018

This spring, the POLIS Water Sustainability Project team has been busy hosting and participating in a variety of events focused on various aspects of freshwater governance, planning, and protection. Looking toward the half-day Watersheds 2018 forum on June 5th, each of these recent events has offered different insight and perspective as B.C.’s freshwater community continues to work towards building capacity to advance watershed governance.

Tools for Groundwater-Surface Water Connectivity under SGMA Workshop
March 12, 2018

WSP Lead Oliver M. Brandes was an invited participant at this recent workshop at Stanford University on California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, hosted by Water in the West, the University of Victoria, Foundry Spatial, The Nature Conservancy, and the Environmental Defense Fund.

The workshop brought together individuals, organizations, and government agencies working on groundwater and surface water connectivity and groundwater dependent ecosystems. Participants examined recent research and tool development in California and other jurisdictions to determine if new tools are necessary and identified the potential role of new tools in water management decisions, as well as potential users, locations, and partners for pilot studies.

Focus on the Fraser Webinar—a Watersheds 2018 event
March 13, 2018

Home to 60 per cent of the province’s population, the Fraser watershed supports more salmon runs than any other river in the world, and is critical to B.C.’s economy. However, it also faces an array of threats to freshwater health—from critically low summer flows in the Nicola River system, to flood infrastructure in the Fraser Valley that fragments waterways and blocks access to critical salmon habitat.

This webinar, hosted by the WSP as part of the series of Watersheds 2018 events, attracted nearly 40 participants and profiled a variety of initiatives and programs led by Indigenous nations, local/provincial/federal governments, watershed groups, NGOs, and other stewardship entities all working to protect watershed health and ecological integrity within the Fraser basin. This event facilitated dialogue between water leaders and initiatives within the Fraser by providing opportunities for peer-to-peer learning between upstream and downstream projects.

Treaty Talks: Paddling up the Columbia River for People and Salmon Film Screening & Panel—a Watersheds 2018 event
April 18, 2018

On April 18, approximately 60 community members gathered at the University of Victoria for a screening of the short documentary Treaty Talks: Paddling up the Columbia River for People and Salmon followed by a panel discussion with experts on the Columbia River Treaty and transboundary water governance.

At a time when the renegotiation of the 1964 Canada-US Columbia River Treaty is at a pivotal state, the film took attendees on a 1243-mile journey from the ocean to the source of the Columbia River in five dugout canoes.

Panellists Jesse Baltutis (Graduate Fellow at the University of Victoria’s Centre for Global Studies and Water, Innovation, and Global Governance Lab), Kathy Eichenberger (Executive Director, Columbia River Treaty Review, B.C. Government), and Jay Johnson (Chief Negotiator and Senior Policy Advisor, Okanagan Nation Alliance) then discussed the upcoming renegotiation of the Columbia River Treaty, the role of Indigenous nations in a modernized treaty, and the numerous issues that have emerged since the treaty was introduced, including ecosystem integrity; bringing Indigenous values and perspectives to the decision-making table; a shift in energy demands; and climate change.

Moderator Rosie Simms with panellists Kathy Eichenberger, Jay Johnson, and Jesse Baltutis. Photo: R. Sevillena.

This event was hosted by the Canadian Freshwater Alliance; Centre for Global Studies; University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre; First Nations Fisheries Council; POLIS Water Sustainability Project; Water, Innovation, and Global Governance Lab (WIGG); Water Economics, Policy and Governance Network (WEPGN); and Watershed Watch Salmon Society as part of the series of Watersheds 2018 events.

Blue Drinks Victoria
Apr 26, 2018

Last month, the Canadian Water Resource Association (CWRA) Students and Young Professionals (SYP) Victoria Chapter hosted its inaugural Blue Drinks event at Caffe Fantastico in Victoria, B.C. Over 30 people came out to share a drink and participate in a discussion on “The Future of Water Law & Governance: Emerging Trends and Opportunities from the Global to the Local” led by the WSP’s Oliver M. Brandes.

Oliver M. Brandes leads discussion at Blue Drinks in Victoria, B.C. Photo: R. Simms.

The Hard Work of Hope in the Anthropocene Lecture & Discussion—a Watersheds 2018 event
April 27, 2018

Sixty people came out to this engaging afternoon lecture and discussion with sustainability experts Dr. Tim O’Riordan (Emeritus Professor of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, UK) and Dr. Jon O’Riordan (Strategic Advisor, Water Policy, POLIS Water Sustainability Project; Associate Fellow, Centre for Global Studies, University of Victoria; Advisor, Adaptation to Climate Change Team (ACT), Simon Fraser University), who discussed specific sources of hope, with a focus on the transformative potential of sustainability science.

Speakers Tim O’Riordan and Jon O’Riordan with moderator Laura Brandes. Photo: R. Simms.

“The emergence of the Anthropocene, when human activity has become the dominant influence on altering the planet Earth, requires new approaches to research methods and purposes,” said Dr. Tim O’Riordan. “In the old days, science was seen as being elitist, done by scientists. Now we see it is in everyone to be a scientist, communicate what they wish for, and what they don’t want to see. That combination of changing the dialogue is of essence to sustainability sciences.”

Dr. Jon O’Riordan shared insights from his books The Hard Work of Hope (Rocky Mountain Books, 2017) and The Climate Nexus (Rocky Mountain Books, 2015), and described how water is at the heart of this nexus, yet is also the worst managed resource that we have globally.

They laid out practical steps for creating the change of consciousness that will be necessary for humanity to survive in a changing climate, including the development of new institutions, new models for partnerships, new forms of financing watershed management, and a strong focus on communication and education.

This event was hosted by the University of Victoria’s Centre for Global Studies and POLIS Water Sustainability Project as part of the series of Watersheds 2018 events.