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Review of Canada-US Great Lakes Water Quality Programs Advises Greater Support for Indigenous Engagement, Climate Resiliency and Science


Windsor, Ontario, Canada: In the spirit of celebration and reflection on five decades of binational cooperation to protect, restore and enhance the Great Lakes, the International Joint Commission (IJC) offers its advice on Great Lakes water quality to the governments of the United States and Canada.

In a report released today – the 2023 Triennial Assessment of Progress – the IJC recommends that both federal governments:

  • Ensure that First Nations, Métis and Tribal governments are full, active partners in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement review process to better empower Indigenous engagement and leadership on Great Lakes water quality issues.
  • Increase climate resiliency throughout the region by developing basinwide goals, adopting accountable and transparent performance metrics and working to achieve them with local, regional, and provincial governments, regional watershed authorities and other stakeholders.
  • Proactively support and actively participate in the continued development of a 10-year Great Lakes Science Plan that works toward managing, funding, governing and implementing a coordinated and comprehensive binational science initiative.  

The 2023 Third Triennial Assessment of Progress Report on Great Lakes Water Quality is available now at

To release the report, the IJC is hosting a bilingual (English and French) virtual news conference today at 2 p.m. ET. Media should register for the event, which will be presented with simultaneous translation in English and French. There will be time reserved at the end for answering questions from the media.

United States Co-chair Gerald Acker, United States Commissioners Robert Sisson and Lance Yohe, and Canadian Commissioner Merrell-Ann Phare will provide a presentation on the report. 

“Collaboration with all levels of government – federal, state, provincial, municipal – and regional watershed authorities is crucial to protecting the Great Lakes. The governments should empower and elevate First Nations, Tribes and Métis led programs addressing Great Lakes water quality,” said Chair Acker. 

“Greater support is needed for science activities that advance knowledge about how the Great Lakes system functions. We need a better understanding of how the lakes will respond to the impacts of climate change and the needs of the growing population around the basin,” said Commissioner Phare. 

Quick Facts 

  • The IJC is an independent treaty organization which assists Canada and the United States to prevent and resolve disputes over shared waters, including the Great Lakes.
  • Under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the IJC assesses the progress of the Canadian and US governments every three years relative to water quality and other environmental and health-related factors. The IJC must consider the federal governments’ joint State of the Great Lakes report and review the Progress Report of the Parties.  
  • Binational concern about water quality spurred the governments of Canada and the United States to sign the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement in 1972.  


Rachel Wyatt, IJC Communications Officer, 226-787-0721, 

Sarah Lobrichon, IJC Public Affairs Manager, 613-794-8592,  

Ed Virden, IJC Policy Advisor, 202-372-7990,