IWI project proposals originate from two places; they either come from IJC boards as part of workplans or they are strategic initiatives. Board-initiated projects are those that are specific to a board and watershed, whereas strategic initiatives are multi board and driven across multiple watersheds. Official calls for proposals and proposal deadlines are sent to the boards twice a year, in the spring and the fall. These dates correspond to the beginning of the fiscal years for Canada (April 1) and the U.S. (October 1). All projects submitted by the boards undergo a rigorous evaluation from the IWI Review Committee. The Committee is comprised of IJC staff that includes the Canadian and U.S. secretaries and the legal, engineering, scientific and communications teams from the Ottawa and Washington offices.
Under IJC funding criteria, IWI project proposals are required to address one or more of three overarching IWI objectives. Each objective serves to contribute to the IWI goal of prevention and resolution of watershed conflicts. They include:
Contributing to the prevention and resolution of watershed issues by building a shared scientific understanding of watershed issues by harmonizing data and information, developing shared tools, knowledge, and expertise, and expanding outreach to and cooperation among stakeholders and Indigenous communities to prevent and resolve watershed issues.
Contributing to the prevention and resolution of watershed issues by communicating transboundary water issues at the local, regional, and national levels, including First Nations, Métis, and Tribes, to increase awareness and understanding of these important issues in order to prevent and resolve watershed issues.
Contributing to the prevention and resolution of watershed issues by facilitating discussions, participating in development of shared solutions, creating decision-making tools, fostering common ground, brokering resolutions, and bringing unresolved issues to the attention of the IJC, including by engaging with broader communities that are affected by these issues more directly.
In addition to these objectives, boards submitting projects must consider whether their project could have applicability to other boards, whether the proposed project is included in their board workplan, responsibilities and mandate, and whether the board is in agreement with the submission of the proposal.