Three images of the binational data harmonization workshops

To put the IWI approach into practice, IJC boards seek to facilitate watershed-level solutions to transboundary environmental challenges by promoting communication, collaboration, and coordination among the various stakeholders and interests, using an integrated ecosystem approach. 

Since each watershed is unique, effective and lasting watershed-level solutions must take into account the local context and cannot simply be imposed from the outside. IJC boards work to build a shared understanding of the watershed, communicating watershed issues at all levels, resolving watershed issues, and administering existing orders and references from the governments. Boards may form specialized committees to focus on a subset of watershed issues, and many board members bring their informal perspective as employees of various government agencies with important roles in the basins. Boards also depend on public input through annual or semi-annual public meetings, as well as through more informal channels.

The 1998 Reference from the two governments encouraged the IJC to draw on existing expertise, data, technology, and systems in setting up the IWI. Therefore, rather than becoming a cumbersome bureaucracy, the IWI by and large navigates through existing frameworks to promote and coordinate watershed-level approaches to transboundary issues. The IWI does receive some modest funding, totaling approximately $5 million from 2010-2015, from the two governments to provide hydrologic and ecosystem analyses, data collection and harmonization, board support, and public outreach.

All IJC boards are eligible to submit project proposals to the Commission for approval. For more information on this process, please refer to the Funding Criteria tab to the left.