Great Lakes Commission holds 2019 Annual Meeting in Québec City
Key discussions on binational partnership and resilience; new officers elected; 2020 Semiannual Meeting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, announced
Québec City, Québec – The Great Lakes Commission held its 2019 annual meeting in Québec City, Québec, celebrating 64 years of the Great Lakes Basin Compact and the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Partnership that formally recognized Québec and Ontario’s representation on the Great Lakes Commission. The Commission greatly appreciated the warm hospitality of the Government of Québec and the beautiful setting of Québec City.
During the three-day meeting, the Commission passed important policy resolutions including support for the increased congressional authorization of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, further investment in the data-driven approach to management applied under the principles of Blue Accounting, enhanced regional collaboration on efforts to address PFAS contamination, and recommitting to the Commission’s partnership with Québec and Ontario.
“The St. Lawrence-Great Lakes system is the economic artery that has allowed our region to prosper,” said Nadine Girault, minister of International Relations and La Francophonie. “As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of Québec’s participation in the Great Lakes Commission, we reiterate our commitment to this forum that shapes the future of our region – a future focused on the blue economy, new green technologies, economic growth, as well as the protection of our ecosystems. The potential for sustainable economic development and business opportunities is significant, with access to one of the world’s largest economic zones. Alongside our Canadian and American partners, we are guaranteed to benefit from this exemplary collaboration.”
The Commission also elected new leadership, with Sharon M. Jackson of Indiana accepting the chair’s gavel from outgoing chair John Linc Stine of Minnesota. Incoming Chair Jackson serves as Deputy General Counsel to Indiana Governor Eric J. Holcomb and has served on the Commission for three years. Additionally, the Commission elected Todd Ambs of Wisconsin as vice chair. Vice Chair Ambs serves as Assistant Deputy Secretary at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and returned to the Commission this spring, shortly after he returned to the WDNR. He previously served as a commissioner from 2003 to 2011.
“The Commission continues its advocacy on many of the critical issues that face the Basin,” said Chair Jackson. “As chair, I look forward to ongoing, robust discussion among all of our commissioners as we continue to seek consensus on policies that will continue to accelerate Basinwide economic growth and protect the natural resources that define our region. I thank outgoing chair John Linc Stine of Minnesota for his years of partnership, dedication and collaborative leadership on the Commission.”
Additionally, the Commission engaged in thoughtful and spirited discussions around a common theme of planning for and investing in resilient communities. Commissioners and the public heard from experts in the fields of conservation, planning, economic development, and the connections between data, science, policy and management. Commissioners also discussed the first-ever assessment of the law and authorities under the Great Lakes Basin Compact.
Finally, the Commission agreed to manage and govern Blue Accounting, an initiative initially created in partnership with The Nature Conservancy to develop a coordinated approach to provide relevant and reliable data to support Great Lakes leaders in managing the world’s largest freshwater ecosystem in a more collaborative and effective manner.
The Commission also announced its 2020 Semiannual Meeting will be held the week of May 18, 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
“The Commission’s dialogue on resilience and data-driven solutions is thoughtful and welcome as we continue to address fluctuating lake levels, legacy contamination in water sources, and infrastructure investment to ensure efficient navigation throughout the Basin,” said Vice Chair Todd Ambs. “As vice chair, I look forward to working with my fellow commissioners to tackle these items as we prepare for our meeting in Kenosha, which my fellow Wisconsin Commissioners and I are excited to host.”
The Commission was pleased to host a joint session and discussion with members of the International Joint Commission, during which commissioners from each agency explored opportunities to collaborate on management of lake levels, water quality, resilience, and Blue Accounting. The Great Lakes Commission looks forward to continuing and strengthening its partnership with the IJC.
The Great Lakes Commission, led by chair Sharon M. Jackson, Deputy General Counsel for Governor Eric J. Holcomb of Indiana, is an interstate compact agency established under the Great Lakes Basin Compact of 1955. The Commission is authorized by state and U.S. federal law and dedicated to promoting a strong economy, healthy environment and high quality of life for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Basin and its residents. The Commission consists of governors’ appointees, state legislators, industry and nonprofit leaders and agency officials from eight states and two provinces. Associate membership for Ontario and Québec was established through the signing of a “Declaration of Partnership.” The Commission maintains a formal Observer program involving U.S. and Canadian federal agencies, tribal authorities, binational agencies and other regional interests. The Commission office is in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Learn more at www.glc.org.