Data harmonization, nutrients and climate change key successes under IJC’s International Watersheds Initiative


The International Joint Commission (IJC) has released its fifth report to the Canadian and US governments on the International Watersheds Initiative (IWI), which describes how the Commission has built on its successes to run a program that supports watershed management for water quality and quantity and aquatic ecosystem health.

The Fifth Report to Governments on the IWI describes what the IJC has accomplished through the IWI program between 2015 and 2019 and lays out priorities for the next five-year period. Over the past five years, the IWI has helped enable the IJC to carry out its mandate to prevent and resolve transboundary water disputes by:

  • helping increase membership diversity on IJC watershed boards;
  • harmonizing datasets between Canada and the United States through the data harmonization initiative;
  • developing the Climate Change Guidance Framework for IJC boards to assess their vulnerabilities to anticipated impacts from climate change;
  • assisting boards to assess impacts from high-water events in the Great Lakes; and
  • improving basin wide understanding of nutrient sources and movement in several transboundary watersheds using the SPARROW model.

Going forward, the IWI intends to prioritize studying how climate change may impact transboundary basins and the work of IJC boards, examine the potential benefits of new IJC watershed boards, and improve how project results and successes are organized and communicated.


The IWI started with a reference from governments in 1998 following their request for the IJC to look at how water management needed to be improved for the 21st century. Since then, several of the IJC’s regional boards have been reorganized to follow the principles of whole-watershed management.

The report can be found on the IJC website under:


For more information, contact:

Kevin Bunch                     Washington, DC               (202) 632-2014               

Sarah Lobrichon              Ottawa, ON                     (613) 794-8592