Clarkson University hosted the International Joint Commission (IJC) earlier today in a unique dialogue with undergraduate and graduate students from across the lower Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River basin. The Commissioners, appointed by the US President and Canadian Prime Minister, discussed how best to protect the Great Lake basin and St. Lawrence River system now and into the future with the students.
Commissioners and IJC staff joined students from SUNY Brockport, University of Buffalo, Clarkson, RIT, SUNY ESF, Cornell, the University of Ottawa, Carleton University, and the University of Windsor for the day-long event. The meeting included a scenario-based discussion of “What would the Great Lakes future hold for residents if the population doubled to 70 million people in 2070?”. They also acted out a role-playing game to simulate solving an immediate pressing environmental pollution problem facing the Great Lakes. Students also had an opportunity to present their own research related to environmental issues in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River system directly to the Commissioners. The conversations are part of a series of public consultations held by the IJC since June, to hear how people feel the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River system is faring. With the students in particular, Commissioners were eager to hear what their priorities and hopes are for the waters we all share.
The IJC was formed in 1909 by the Boundary Waters Treaty to prevent and resolve disputes over boundary waters. The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, first signed between Canada and the United States and 1972 and revised in 2012, give the IJC responsibility to assess the governments’ progress to meet the Agreement’s goals. Public consultation is an essential part of that assessment process.