Great Lakes water quality agreement: science

A male and female scientist

A male and female scientist stand side by side to discuss a lab sample, while working in front of their lab equipment.

Photo: Taken from MSC section of Environment and Climate Change Canada website.

Objective: To enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of Great Lakes science activities through cooperation and coordination.

This annex of the Canada-United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) consolidates science activities from the 1987 GLWQA and includes activities that consider other forms of knowledge, including traditional ecological knowledge.

The annex also commits Canada and the United States to implement a cooperative science and monitoring initiative for each of the Great Lakes on a five-year rotational basis, currently delivered through the Coordination Science and Monitoring Initiative (CSMI).

It commits the countries to maintain comprehensive, science-based ecosystem indicators to anticipate emerging threats and to measure progress. This action is currently undertaken through the State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conference (SOLEC).

Why is action on science important?

Science supports management actions and policy decisions for the various issues covered by the Agreement. Knowing that the right science efforts are being undertaken is vital to supporting these actions and decisions.

Many organizations and entities undertake science that supports work in the Great Lakes basin. Fostering science coordination and collaboration helps to reduce duplication of efforts and allows for reprioritization of science efforts when required.

Commitment to key activities within the 2012 GLWQA

Foster coordination and collaboration of scientific efforts by:

  • Undertaking the necessary monitoring and surveillance to anticipate science needs and to address emerging environmental concerns;
  • Ensuring that science and information are available to support Great Lakes programs and activities in the basin and to inform the public, who also have a role to play in meeting GLWQA objectives;
  • Reviewing the science supporting the agreement's objectives to inform management actions and policy development;
  • Identifying science priorities and using best efforts to ensure that science funding agencies orient their research programs in response to research priorities;
  • Fostering coordination and collaboration of scientific efforts in support of the GLWQA;
  • Utilizing comprehensive, science-based ecosystem indicators to assess the state of the Great Lakes, to anticipate emerging threats and to measure progress;
  • Implementing a cooperative science and monitoring initiative to help coordinate science programs on the Great Lakes;
  • Publicly describing basin-wide environmental trends and lake-specific conditions through a State of the Great Lakes Report.

Expected outcomes

  • Coordinated research and monitoring to inform management approaches;
  • Enhanced science and information to support meeting the objectives of the GLWQA through the periodic review and assessment of science, identification of science priorities, and coordination of science efforts;
  • Documented status of the Great Lakes' condition and information made available for public use.

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