Towards Sustainable Development in Manitoba: Recommendations for Manitoba's Watershed-Based Policy Framework
The Province of Manitoba recently proposed a series of initiatives as part of a new watershed-based policy framework to streamline and coordinate provincial programs and initiatives in the geographic context of watersheds.
These include a proposed "GRowing Outcomes in Watersheds (GROW)" program focussed on obtaining ecological goods and services from the agricultural landscape; "Watershed-Based Drainage and Water Resource Management" for creating a streamlined approach for addressing drainage and water retention projects; and the "Modernization of Manitoba's Conservation Districts Program" to strengthen collaboration and delivery measurable outcomes.
IISD has been active in Manitoba-based research for close to three decades, providing technical and policy insight on provincial issues including climate change mitigation and adaptation, sustainable agriculture, watershed management, and water resources management in the context of Lake Winnipeg. IISD works to balance social, economic and environmental outcomes in policy design and implementation. In addition, IISD-Experimental Lakes Area provides world-class research on aquatic ecosystems and has provided evidence for global decisions around air and water pollution.
IISD is pleased to see the structure and content of the three consultation documents under the proposed watershed-based policy framework. We have long promoted a watershed approach to integrated land and water management as a means to greater impact, more measurable outcomes and stronger local-level engagement.
Watersheds provide us with a range of important benefits, and good management can mean better environmental, economic and social systems for Manitobans long into the future. The proposed programs are an opportunity to demonstrate strong, made-in-Manitoba solutions for coordinated, evidence-based watershed management resulting in multiple benefits for all Manitobans. In order for the proposed watershed-based programming to be impactful, achievable and sustainable, they must:
- Aim for restoration or a net gain of identified, priority ecological goods and services (EGS) and water-retention capacity;
- Target regions and ensure that the most effective actions are matched with them for the most impact and the least cost;
- Include a robust, evidence-based evaluation framework focused on cumulative improvements and a value-for-money analysis;
- Adopt effective measurement that takes into account conventional environmental monitoring, cost–benefit analyses, community-based monitoring, traditional and local knowledge, remote sensing and other analytical means available.
- Strengthen coordination in the context of watershed management, particularly between geographies, impacts, agencies and processes.