International Commission Calls for New Plan to Restore, Protect Great Lakes

The International Joint Commission (IJC) calls on the governments of Canada and the United States create and apply an uncommonly strong Accountability Framework for Great Lakes restoration and protection under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

In its Thirteenth Biennial Report on Great Lakes Water Quality, released on Feb. 7, IJC urges the governments to present a preliminary framework by June 2008.

"We chose to focus this biennial report on a single theme -- accountability -- because accountability is absolutely indispensable if the governments are serious about their commitments to improve water quality under this agreement," said Commissioner Allen Olson.

The report sets out the following elements for such a framework:

  • Developing a rigorous, coordinated plan that identifies and prioritizes the actions needed to realize the goals of the agreement, includes measurable targets and sets timelines for completion -- such targets and timelines are generally not in the current agreement.
  • Whether it be an existing or a new organization, some binational entity needs to be fully and clearly charged with the responsibility to gather information that can be used to assess progress toward the agreement's purpose and goals.
  • Providing substantive and meaningful progress reports on a triennial basis.
  • Using the reports to review and adjust action plans.

"Experts and concerned citizens across the Great Lakes basin have told us that accountability needs to be the cornerstone for Great Lakes' restoration and protection programs," said Commissioner Jack Blaney.

The governments of the United States and Canada are currently leading a comprehensive review of the agreement for the first time since 1987. The commission also recommended that the governments accelerate their review so that the results coincide with the release of the draft Accountability Framework.

For its part, the commission committed to forming a task force to assist it in consulting with the governments on a practical and effective Accountability Framework as well as convening, in collaboration with governments and others, a Great Lakes Accountability Summit in summer 2008.

For additional information or a copy of the report visit the commission's Web site: http://www.ijc.org.

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