Canada to Invest in Inland Quality Science Program

The Honorable Jim Prentice, Minister of the Environment, announced March 20 that Canada will invest $2.5 million over five years to support the United Nations Environment Program's (UNEP) Global Environment Monitoring System GEMS/Water, an international water science program aimed at understanding inland quality issues around the world.

The $2.5 million from Environment Canada will allow the program to expand, adding data quality management activities, water assessments, and capacity building -- offering training and advice to least-developed countries on how to set up water sampling programs. These funds are in addition to Environment Canada's core annual support to the program.

In addition, Lynne Yelich, Minister of State, Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) is working to position Western Canada as a national and international leader in water resource technology and innovation. To achieve this, WD is actively working with the University of Lethbridge and the University Saskatchewan to finalize all steps in the due diligence process to allow for a federal investment of up to $2 million in support of a water resource technology initiative.

"I am pleased to announce that Canada, a country with the third largest renewable fresh water supply in the world, will continue to support this important international program," said Minister Prentice. "With these investments totaling $4.5 million, we are taking a leadership role in preserving water quality in Canada and around the world. I am proud that we are continuing our 30-year legacy of working with the United Nations in support of GEMS/Water."

GEMS/Water provides evidence-based information on the state and trends of global inland water quality required for the sustainable management of the world's freshwater. GEMS activities, which include assessments of freshwater lakes and rivers, maintenance of a global water quality database and management of an international network of participating countries, support global environmental assessments, water resource management and economic and environmental decision making.

"The impacts of climate change allied to population growth, agriculture, and industrial demand are putting increasing stress on the world's freshwaters. Thus, the way the world manages its inland water resources over the coming years and decades will be crucial to the success of the UN Millennium Development Goals and poverty reduction targets", said Achim Steiner, UN under-secretary general and executive director, UN Environment Program (UNEP). "Sound science is the foundation of sound policy making and in the realm of freshwater GEMS is a key element of that foundation and therefore a key contribution to the sustainable development agenda. I would therefore like to thank the Government of Canada for continuing its support for GEMS and its mission to provide authoritative assessments of the state and trends of the world's rivers and lakes."

More than 100 countries participate in GEMS/Water, along with several United Nations agencies and other organizations. Many participate by sharing the information they collect on water quality and other data that can be compiled for regional and global assessments.

GEMS/Water is based at the Burlington, Ontario, Canada site of the National Water Research Institute, which has hosted the GEMS/Water Collaborating Centre since 1978.