An Update on the Collaborative Monitoring Initiative

Where it came from and where it’s going

Published On: November 1st, 2022

In the spring of 2021, we announced the launch of the Collaborative Monitoring Initiative (CMI), a program that seeks to improve outcomes for water sustainability and watershed health by learning from, supporting, and amplifying the programs and efforts of regional monitoring groups across B.C.

What initially began as a six-month pilot partnership between POLIS, the BC Freshwater Legacy Initiative, and Watersheds BC has grown into a nascent provincewide hub for information on community-based monitoring and data management, as well as peer-to-peer support.

From the outset, development and implementation of CMI programming has been shared across several partners to ensure distributed leadership and to foster a collaborative networked approach. As a result of CMI’s growth and success over the past year and a half, another new partnership is underway as CMI transitions to become part of the larger and well-established programming at Living Lakes Canada, the award-winning NGO based in the Canadian Columbia Basin which has the mission to foster citizen-based water stewardship through science-driven community-based water monitoring, assessment, and restoration programs.

POLIS congratulates the CMI team on this next phase of its evolution as this new partnership takes root. The important link between community-level monitoring and governance and local decision-making remains a priority for POLIS. Living Lakes Canada has a strong history of building capacity through community-based water monitoring to help address climate impacts, and the Collaborative Monitoring Initiative will complement and strengthen this ongoing work.

Photo: Living Lakes Canada

Looking back

As the CMI team proceeds with this transition, we wanted to highlight the successes over the past year, including:

  • Outreach to over 20 Indigenous and non-Indigenous community-based groups to better understand their needs and how CMI might provide support around coordination to impact decision-making.
  • Development of a Community of Practice approach, while building a broad network, to assist groups in elevating their scientific and collaborative capacities, including webinars and workshops, advisory services, and development of a web platform with tools and guidance.
  • Development of case studies aimed at illustrating the pathways to capacity- and competency-building among community-based monitoring groups.
  • Engagement with the provincial government  to support coordination, identify areas of alignment, share information, and provide insight on long-term support for regional monitoring groups, including by supporting the development of the provincial Watershed Security Strategy mandate.

Looking forward

The CMI team will collaborate with Living Lakes Canada to identify opportunities for community-based monitoring data to be incorporated into planning and decision-making through the regular use of data repositories, such as the Columbia Basin Water Hub (the open source platform facilitated by Living Lakes Canada for water data in the Columbia Basin).

A high priority for CMI is to deepen work with Indigenous groups and First Nations governments to support information sharing and to identify ways to share using Western science and Traditional Knowledge in concert. The CMI team also encourages and supports non-Indigenous partners to build their capacity to work with Indigenous peoples by investing in reconciliation and developing an improved understanding of Indigenous systems of knowledge.

Other priorities identified by CMI and Living Lakes Canada include continuing to collaborate with provincial and federal agencies on providing long-term support for community-based monitoring groups; and supporting community-based monitoring groups in developing robust monitoring protocols and procedures, as well as best practices for data collection and management.

As we look toward the future of CMI based out of Living Lakes Canada, we are excited for what lies ahead. As one of the founding partners, POLIS will continue to partner with and support the CMI steering committee and advisory network.