Agriculture and water

The Blue Economy Initiative
(press release)

The Blue Economy Initiative, will provide information to Canadians and key decision makers about the economic benefits of protecting Canada’s fresh water, and the economic risks of neglecting the health of our watersheds. Its goal is to create an upswell of support for sustainable water management in Canada, addressing questions that so far remain unanswered such as:
  • What is the value of protecting/restoring aquatic ecosystems?
  • Can we decrease healthcare costs by reducing water pollution?
  • Can we enhance agricultural productivity to help address the global food crisis while at the same time ensuring responsible water use?
  • How can cities tackle the costs imposed by climate change with new and innovative forms of water infrastructure?

Agricultural Participation in Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in Canada: Four case studies
» Dimple Roy, Bryan Oborne, Karla Zubrycki, Rosemary Dohan, Henry David Venema, IISD, 2011. Paper, 127 pages, copyright: AAFC

Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) has been recognized as an effective means of integrated landscape and regional planning in Canada and around the world. In exploring the role of the agricultural community in IWRM initiatives in Canada, IISD produced a report, IWRM in Canada: Recommendations for agricultural sector participation. The report recommended the use of financial and technical tools, with a broader understanding of the various approaches being used across the country and in selected international cases

A second phase of this work with AAFC involved a more detailed look at the linkages between IWRM and agri-environmental management in four watersheds in Canada and resulted in a report titled Agricultural Participation in Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in Canada: Four case studies. These include: the Okanagan River Basin in B.C.; the Lower Souris River Basin in Saskatchewan; the Yamaska watershed in Quebec and the Souris River Watershed in P.E.I. The case studies highlight regional differences and the need for context-specific planning, and also highlight the value and need for strengthened place-based approaches, such as those implemented through IWRM processes in watersheds.

Our main finding was that, while watershed planning and agri-environmental management are being promoted as areas of focus for federal, provincial and regional governments, there is little linking these complementary processes and targets.

Our main recommendation is to invest in place-based targets and outcomes, as well as in institutional and professional capacity to improve effective delivery and measurable outcomes of agri-environmental programming. This investment includes stronger support for IWRM and watershed groups, looking toward agricultural sector integration; cost-shared support for professional capacity in watersheds; and stronger support for water quality and quantity monitoring in agricultural watersheds.

Published in April by IISD.  Please note this is on IWRM (groundwater is included).