Protecting Watersheds in the 21st Century

By the Mackenzie DataStream Team
Carolyn DuBois, Water Program Director presents at CEGN’s Annual Conference

Earlier this month, the DataStream team travelled to Fredericton, New Brunswick to take part in the annual Canadian Environmental Grantmakers Network (CEGN) conference. During the event various important discussions were had on a wide array of topics including reforming Canada’s environmental laws, reconnecting with nature and protecting freshwater resources.

Bruce Anderson of Abacus Data kicked off the conference with an introductory keynote, “Forging a Sustainable Future in Uncertain Times.” His opening remarks served as inspiration in the face of uncertainty and posed the question: “Are we, as environmentalists, facing headwinds or tailwinds?”

Bruce’s research indicates that despite these uncertain times, Canadians remain optimistic. Many believe we are in a unique position, with the opportunity to become an environmental leader and propel our country towards a more sustainable future.

During the event, Carolyn DuBois, Director of the Water Program at The Gordon Foundation co-presented with WWF Canada’s VP Freshwater, Liz Hendriks on “Protecting Watersheds in the 21st Century.” This speech focused on efforts to aggregate and better understand water quality data — issues that both Liz and Carolyn have worked on for years.

One of the Slides from Carolyn DuBois’ presentation untangling how data and evidence can help inform action and policy.

While Mackenzie DataStream has been aggregating and publishing data, WWF Canada has been working to understand what the data is telling us. This work culminated in the recent announcement of their WWF Watershed Reports.

This hard work is indeed being noticed. In a speech at WWF’s Healthy Waters Summit, the following week in Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed concerns regarding the lack of data. According to the Winnipeg Free Press the Prime Minister stated:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during WWF’s Healthy Waters Summit in Ottawa, Monday June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand

“Those of you who know me know that I’m a bit of a math and data geek, and hearing about what WWF Canada had to go through for the past four years to collect, collate data from so many different sources, to try and get a picture of something that, quite frankly, Canadians take for granted and we should know much more about, is a real challenge.”

Prime Minister Trudeau issued a call to action, encouraging everyone, including various levels of government to “step up” and ensure water quality data is collected and shared.

Organizations across Canada are doing just that, building partnerships and exploring opportunities to collaborate on environmental initiatives. We share the optimism that Bruce spoke of in his opening keynote at CEGN’s Conference and believe the time for action is now — while the wind is still strongly at our backs!

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