The Great Lakes Water Quality Protocol 2012: A Focus on the Effectiveness of the International Joint Commission

By Savitri Jetoo and Gail Krantzberg.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability in Economic, Social and Cultural Context

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The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement Protocol 2012 (the Protocol) was signed on September 7, 2012 by Canada’s Environment Minister Peter Kent and US EPA’s administrator Lisa Jackson. Both Kent and Jackson endorsed the Protocol, articulating that the changes signify a commitment by both the US and Canada to improving water quality in the region. While there is optimism that the Protocol will lead to a more resilient Great Lakes basin ecosystem, there is great uncertainty regarding specific solutions required to tackle the stressors to the nearshore areas. Some of the stressors impacting the nearshore areas and threatening the sustainability of the ecosystem includes extensive colonization of zebra mussels in the lower lakes, invasion by other aquatic invasive species basin-wide, algal blooms in Lake Erie, toxic contaminants and hydrologic modifications. Experts feel that this is a crisis in governance, as Great Lakes Institutions have had limited success in addressing essential policy needs. This paper aims to critically evaluate the effectiveness of the International Joint Commission, the transboundary bi-national institution that could be at the helm of governance to enable implementation of the protocol and the goal of sustainability of the Great Lakes aquatic ecosystem. The methodology employed for this critique is archival analysis.

Keywords: North American Great Lakes, Sustainability, 2012 Protocol, Governance, International Joint Commission

The International Journal of Social Sustainability in Economic, Social and Cultural Context, Volume 11, Issue 2, June 2015, pp.1-11. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 691.516KB).

Savitri Jetoo

Ph.D Student, Department of Civil Engineering, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Dr. Gail Krantzberg

Director, Engineering and Public Policy, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada