780 water champions come together for watershed governance forum

Published On: September 11th, 2018

Chief (Kukpi7) Wayne Christian speaks at Columbia River Treaty Symposium, part of Watersheds 2018

From record-breaking droughts and floods to conflicts over use and rights, fresh water across Canada and in B.C. is facing increasing threats. Addressing current and looming freshwater challenges requires new partnerships and innovative forms of shared authority and collaborative governance to respond to the many social and ecological needs of our watersheds.

For nearly a decade the POLIS Water Sustainability Project (WSP), along with many important partners, has been organizing and co-hosting the biennial series of Watersheds events. These forums are known for bringing forward new and innovative ideas with the goal of exploring policy, legal, and governance solutions while increasing watershed governance understanding and capacity. The Watersheds events focus on equipping a diversity of participants—including watershed groups, First Nations, all levels of governments, industry, community champions, water leaders, and funders—with the skills, knowledge, and networks needed to successfully collaborate. The success of these events demonstrates how engaged and sophisticated B.C.’s freshwater community is—and how it continues to grow and evolve.

“For this year’s event we tried something new,” said Rosie Simms, researcher at the POLIS Water Sustainability Project. “Instead of one large, in-person gathering like we’ve done in the past, we hosted a series of focused in-person and virtual events, all under the banner of Watersheds 2018.”

Watersheds 2018 emphasized water-centric land use planning, Indigenous-led approaches, and opportunities for collaboration. The series of events featured a film screening and panel discussion on the Columbia River Treaty, a session on water, peace, and global security with guest Robert Sandford, and the major one-day Columbia River Treaty Symposium, which focused on decision-makers and leading experts and was co-hosted by the WSP as part of the Canadian Water Resources Association’s annual national conference.

“These Watersheds 2018 events collectively contributed to the overall goals of engaging with innovative ideas and bold thinking, building connections and networks in our freshwater community, and finding sustainable solutions to pressing water problems,” said Oliver M. Brandes, POLIS Water Sustainability Project Lead. “The series culminated in the half-day virtual forum Planning for Success: New Thinking for Land Use and Water Governance on June 5th, 2018.”

This capstone virtual forum brought together over 230 water leaders to exchange information and learn about innovative watershed governance efforts across the province. It showcased existing watershed governance initiatives and offered opportunities for discussion about emerging issues related to water-centric land use planning and building robust and innovative partnerships.

The seven events bundled under the Watersheds 2018 banner attracted approximately 780 participants in total.


The links below provide more information on each of the Watersheds 2018 events. Proceedings reports on the May 28th, 2018 Columbia River Treaty Symposium and the June 5th, 2018 forum Planning for Success: New Thinking for Land Use and Water Governance will be released later this fall.

Watersheds 2018 Events