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Citizen Engagement
From Solitudes to Rallying
 
Great Lakes & St. Lawrence River and Gulf Symphony
 
The Great Lakes & St. Lawrence River and Gulf Symphony is an attempt to make everyone realize that all life on the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River and Gulf watershed hinges on interdependent relationships. On June 26 and 27, 2012, 40 participants from all over the basin —  from Chicago, to Îles de la Madeleine, Lake Champlain and the lower North Shore — came to Quebec for the first citizens’ meeting organized by the International Secretariat for Water (ISW) and its partners.  
During the work seminary - the preparations for which spanned a year and a half - participants devised common guidelines, identified conditions for improved citizen participation within integrated water resource management, and created the Citizen Engagement “From Solitudes to Rallying.”
 
On June 28, 2012, two representatives from the ISW and the International Network of Basin Organizations (INBO), and a representative from the North America Network of Basin Organizations (NANBO) were invited to present their preliminary findings to the Mayors of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, at the Annual Meeting and Conference in Quebec City.
Following that, the Engagement and an action plan proposal will be presented to other government bodies and interest groups.
Background
The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence territory is a freshwater and saltwater basin containing 20% of the planet’s renewable freshwater reserves, of which only 1% is renewed every year. Many interdependent hydrological relationships are at play between ground water and water from the lakes, rivers, and Atlantic Ocean. 
The First Nations were the first to live in the basin; as a result, they developed a strong relationship with water, through which they acquired inspiring knowledge and know-how.
Today, over 50 million people live in the basin, all of whose quality of life depends on its water resources. Although the population is primarily concentrated on the shores, the hydrographical territory extends hundreds of kilometres away from them. 
Spread over 3000 kilometres, 6 Canadian provinces and 10 American states, the basin houses a patchwork of multifarious jurisdictions and governance mechanisms. It is a hub for the North American economy because of its vital importance for transport, commerce and communications.
 
 
The challenges
The various climatic, demographic and economic pressures have had debilitating effects on the quality and quantity of the basin’s water and on its ecosystem preservation. Furthermore, the absence of a framework to facilitate a concerted effort taken by all stakeholders, especially by civil society, and the population’s meagre awareness of the challenges faced by the basin tend to elicit a “not in my backyard” reaction.
We, the participants of “The Quebec Rendez-vous,” consider these threats to be an opportunity to remind people that the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River and Gulf basin is in everybody’s backyard and that we must advocate for a common, participative and integrated management of it.
We, the participants of “The Quebec Rendez-Vous,” have created the neologism “Basiners” to underline the fact that we share a common territory. The word symbolizes our common history, the richness of our cultural and economic exchanges, and our interdependence, from the headwaters to the ocean. Basiners have, both individually and collectively, a vested interest in the future of the basin, since it is their home.
 
Citizen Engagement
Whereas water is essential to life and is a shared resource,
Whereas we belong to the Great Lakes & St. Lawrence River and Gulf basin and recognize the territory’s multiple components,
Whereas our actions are interdependent and have direct and indirect cumulative effects, from the headwaters to the ocean,
Whereas we are the guardians of 20% of the planet’s freshwater reserve and we have a responsibility to uphold to the rest of the population and to future generations,
Whereas the citizens must be actively involved in creating and implementing a shared vision for the basin,
We are calling all Basiners to contribute to:
Strengthen the feeling of belonging within the basin, regardless of political and administrative boundaries :
·         By embracing and spreading the notion of Basiner to redefine our identity in relation to the basin and our shared history, which was formed by various political, economic, social, cultural, environmental and territorial issues;
·         By consistently taking into account all of the basin’s components when referring to it: the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence River, and the Gulf of the St. Lawrence, including all the tributaries and their basins;
·         By creating and sharing awareness raising tools, like the Blue Passport, that promote the hydrographical basin as being the most appropriate natural unit for water management.
 
Promote sustainable water sharing, by taking into account the ecosystems’ vulnerability and human needs :
·         By ensuring equitable access to drinking water and sanitation in sufficient quantity and quality for all, through adapted and adequate infrastructures, especially for remote populations;
·         By planning, in an era of climate change, flexible and adaptive management to ensure the ecosystems’ integrity and answer humans’ water needs in a sustainable manner for all uses.
 
Reimagine land use planning and economic development by taking into account their impact on the basin:
·         By entering into an open and transparent dialogue, with an honest intent of agreement, between all parties involved: economic and community users, civil society organizations, academics and legislators;
·         By supporting cities’ green initiatives: using renewable energy, developing sustainable urban agriculture, recycling wastewater and reusing rain water, promoting and certifying environment-friendly industrial practices, etc.  
·         By expanding protected area by developing a network of parks and natural corridors within the basin to promote eco-responsible tourism, and landscape and natural resource preservation;
·         By taking a more concerted stand against alien invasive species to preserve the integrity of the basin’s ecosystems.
 
Facilitate the creation of a shared and concerted vision, held by all parties involved, by sharing knowledge and existing planning, management and awareness raising tools:
·         By mobilizing municipal, provincial and federal authorities within the basin, from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of the St. Lawrence, to create more coherent regulatory frameworks and water management practices; 
·         By getting today’s youths involved with the initiatives taking place in the basin to ensure that future generations are involved in integrated water and territory management and that they assimilate that notion into their vision of the basin’s future;
·         By taking into account and learning from the First Nations’ skills and know-how, as well as their many governance and conflict resolution traditions;
·         By promoting research on new technology and management practices, and by encouraging the basin’s various academic and research institutions to network and share their knowledge.
 
Develop, as citizens, the notion of “Sentinels for Water.”
 
 
 
 
 
 
“The Quebec Rendez-Vous” participants who have written and adopted the Citizen Engagement
 
Allard
Daniel
 
Lanoue
Roger
Anctil
François
 
Larivière
Tania
Archambault
Anne
 
Latraverse
Pierre
Boisclair
Duane
 
Linzmeyer
Paul
Burton
Jean
 
Poirier
Martin
Cazalis
Pierre
 
Raîche
Jean-Paul
Chamard
Luce
 
Reilly
Kate
Chamberland
Hubert
 
Rioux
Claude
de Swarte
Alice
 
Rosenbatt
Sarah
Delisle
Martin
 
Schaldembrand
Céline
Durand-Nolett
Michel
 
Stein
Nika
Enquist
Philip
 
Strauss
Marianne
Faucher
Jean-Robert
 
Thiboult
Antoine
Fourneaux
Laurie
 
Turcotte
Jean-Éric
Gaborit
Étienne
 
Turmel
Manon
Gagnon
Chantal
 
Verville
Antoine
Gauthier
Raymond
 
Vescovi
Luc
Gauthier
Annie
 
Vézina
André-Anne
Gros-Louis
Steeve
 
Welch
Melanie
Guillet
François
 
White
Maggie
Jost
Raymond
 
Wild
Elizabeth
 
Quebec, June 27, 2012.

The Coalition-SGSL is responsible for coordinating, sometimes creating, projects on issues that affect the sustainability of the Southern Gulf . These projects engage communities in learning and sharing experiences. Here are some of these projects.
 
 
 
 
 
Coming soon
 
Sustainability Indicators
 
Thank you!
We would like to thank all the volunteers, coordinators, partners and service providers who help us accomplish all these projects through the power of collaborative community oriented partnerships.

If you are interested in the projects or would like to volunteer with us, contact us at the following email admin@coalition-sgsl.ca or call us at (506) 336-9005.

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