PNWER: “The Gold Standard of US - Canada Relations”

OWC attended the July PNWER Summit in Calgary, with 534 legislators, business leaders, academics, and local government representatives from around the region joining in for in-depth work sessions, high-level networking, and enlightening keynote speeches. OWC was able to network with leaders from the Northwest region and explore the beauty and innovative practices of Alberta on guided policy tours.

One of the main themes was Water Policy and how strong legislation is best combined with education and deep conversations to initiate meaningful., effective social change.

The Pacific NorthWest Economic Region (PNWER) is a collaboration between elected officials, the private sector and non-government organizations in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Yukon, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.

PNWER takes pride in its reputation as “The Gold Standard of US - Canada Relations” and indeed it was apparent at the 2016 Annual Summit that elected officials have strong relationships across borders.

Elected Governors, Premiers and other legislators (or their representatives) take a lead role in setting the agenda for the organization and PNWER is tackling important watershed issues such as water policy, aquatic invasive species and climate change.

 Shannon Phillips, Alberta’s Minister of Environment and Parks and Lethbridge West MLA, speaking about Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan at PNWER’s 2016 Annual Summit.

Shannon Phillips, Alberta’s Minister of Environment and Parks and Lethbridge West MLA, speaking about Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan at PNWER’s 2016 Annual Summit.

Water Policy Working Group Co-Chair David Hill, Director of Centres and Institutes and Research Advocacy (CIRA) at the University of Lethbridge invited Watershed Planning and Advisory Councils (WPACs) to speak at the 2016 Annual Summit in Calgary.

The Oldman Watershed Council, Mighty Peace Watershed Alliance, Bow River Basin Council and Southeast Alberta Watershed Alliance each spoke about the key role of stakeholders and voluntary actions in watershed management and health.

 Rhonda Clarke-Gauthier Executive Director of the Mighty Peace Watershed Alliance speaking at PNWER's 2016 Annual Summit. 

Rhonda Clarke-Gauthier Executive Director of the Mighty Peace Watershed Alliance speaking at PNWER's 2016 Annual Summit. 

OWC’s Executive Director, Shannon Frank, presented on the importance of mobilizing action from within the community to affect lasting change. Our Engaging Recreationalists Project is an example of how through education and direct involvement in solutions, citizens are empowered to change current practices. As we have seen in major changes to social norms such as smoking in public, the best approach to spur cultural shifts in acceptable behaviour is through strong legislation coupled with education that is meaningful to the individuals directly involved.

PNWER, like WPACs, believes that through collaboration we, the whole community, public, private and nonprofit, are better able to put the many puzzle pieces into place that are needed to manage complex societal challenges. Enforcement, education, policy, communications, plans - all are needed to successfully manage the issues we currently face locally and internationally.

As a partner of the Government of Alberta and Advisor to the Minister of Environment and Parks, OWC understands the importance of a multi faceted, cross border approach to any complex issue and that is why our work includes both policy and planning recommendations to all levels of government, partnerships with both local and international organizations as well as education and outreach.

PNWER also values education and focuses their efforts mainly on their audience of legislators. Their Invasive Species Working Group has been instrumental in raising awareness among legislators about the economic and environmental impacts of aquatic invasive species in particular. These efforts have helped secure millions of dollars across the region to fund watercraft inspections, information sharing portals and researching possible control measures. Cross border agreements have also been signed to ensure a coordinated approach across the region.

Please donate today to ensure your voice is heard in these international conversations and the Oldman Watershed is supported across borders. Donate through our website www.oldmanwatershed.ca/donate.

Visit pnwer.org or follow @PNWER to learn more about this important organization. See photos from the 2016 Annual Summit here https://www.flickr.com/photos/130716966@N07/albums/72157668444500484.