CEO Blog: State of the Water Movement in BC

Imagine a day without water. A day when you didn't eat or drink anything that was produced with water, wash or use plumbing of any kind. It wouldn't be easy.

We all want and need a clean, abundant supply of fresh water. While citizens, businesses, and governments haven't always done a good job as stewards of this vital resource, there is hope—great potential, in fact.

A new report published by the Real Estate Foundation of BC and the POLIS Project on Ecological Governance at the University of Victoria indicates that British Columbia could become a global leader in freshwater protection and sustainability.

"The State of the Water Movement in British Columbia: A Waterscape Scan & Needs Assessment of the BC NGO Sector" compiled data from interviews with 11 freshwater leaders and an online survey completed by 61 non-governmental organizations working on water issues across BC.

Authors Tim Morris and Oliver Brandes found that addressing watershed priorities at both provincial and regional levels will be key to sustaining improvements in freshwater governance, planning, and management.

In addition to big picture items—such as modernizing the century-old BC Water Act; addressing climate change impacts; and formally recognizing First Nations water rights and shared decision-making—there are exciting new opportunities for the people who live, and the businesses that operate, in BC communities.

One idea is watershed boards, a form of collaborative governance that allows local stakeholders to gain a measure of control in the sustainability of their "home" lakes, streams, and rivers. With strong provincial oversight and regulatory backstop, watershed boards could be one way to help British Columbians see how decision-making about water issues affects their local environments.

The Real Estate Foundation has been involved in freshwater sustainability to support some emerging ideas and projects about watershed governance in BC. POLIS Project, Cowichan Watershed Board, Okanagan Basin Water Board, Wildsight, Living Lakes Canada, Canadian Freshwater Alliance, and Adaptation to Climate Change Team at Simon Fraser University are a few groups that are leading the way. They are helping to transform attitudes, practices, and policies around how we interact with the natural systems we depend on for life and prosperity.

A prosperous and healthy future depends on engaged businesses and citizens making well-informed decisions now. Let's form innovative alliances to tackle these challenges.

I encourage you have a look at the new POLIS Project-Real Estate Foundation report to learn more about the emerging water movement in BC.
- Jack Wong CEO, Real Estate Foundation of BC