Collaborative Watershed Governance Initiative

Year 2009 (ongoing)
Leader Fraser Salmon and Watersheds Program
Project type Governance
FSWP funding source Living Rivers
Grant amount $60,000
ID number FSWP09-LR120-G

Location: entire Fraser Basin

Project Summary


The Collaborative Watershed Governance Initiative Phase 2 is intended to focus on the engagement of a Leadership Group, to broaden partnership in the Initiative, develop relationships among governments and resource sectors, to research and report on governance models and best practices, and to facilitate information sharing and dialogue that will be used to develop a Collaborative Watershed Governance framework. 

Following the November 2008, the CWGI Working Group met in January 2009 to identify next steps in developing a collaborative framework.  The immediate priority is for the Working Group to continue its efforts in establishing the CWGI Leadership Group and assisting the Leadership Group in developing and implementing it’s 2009/10 work and business plans. 

In addition to 2009 funding requested from the Fraser Salmon and Watersheds Program, it is anticipated that the Living Rivers Trust and the Living Rivers - Georgia Basin/ Vancouver Island (LR-GB/VI) will be approached to request continued financial support of the initiative as it moves forward with this critical phase. 


The impetus for this initiative came in early in 2008, when the Living Rivers Advisory Group (LRAG) requested the Pacific Salmon Foundation, the Fraser Basin Council and the BC Conservation Foundation to plan, coordinate and host a workshop that would report on the innovation, best management practices and new governance models beneficial to salmonids and their watersheds as a result of investments made by the Living Rivers Trust Fund, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Pacific Salmon Endowment Fund, and others in the Fraser Salmon and Watersheds Program (FSWP) and Living Rivers - Georgia Basin/ Vancouver Island (LR-GB/VI).

Over 2008 and under the direction of the Working Group, Phase 1 of the Collaborative Watershed Governance Initiative was designed to scope the critical elements of collaborative governance frameworks necessary to achieve watershed sustainability. 

In November 2008, representatives from the four orders of government and a number of industry sectors convened at a workshop to explore the issues, benefits and challenges related to watershed management in British Columbia and to determine the level of interest in developing a Collaborative Watershed Governance framework.  The unifying consensus at the workshop was a call for collaborative action to achieve watershed sustainability, and agreement among participants to continue the dialogue and engagement.

Future broad engagement will depend on several key factors identified by participants: 

* Clarity that the initiative will focus on achieving environmental and economic health in our watersheds, and the social and cultural benefits that flow from this. This can be achieved through collaborative decision-making and management of land and water uses. This is important for the positive engagement of First Nations, stakeholders and other interests, who participate because they see the benefit, not to protect their positions.
* The work to move forward has the support of government, including an element of political support for the outcome. It was mentioned many times at the workshop that people need to have confidence that the results of working on a new framework will be used. This provides a powerful incentive to stay engaged.
* The work is sufficiently resourced to accomplish the intended results.
* There must be engagement and be effective leadership by all of the affected interests.


  • Formation of a CWGI Leadership Group consisting of collaborative watershed governance advocates from Governments, First Nations, Resource Sectors, NGOs and the Public, having responsibilities, interests and activities in BC Watersheds.  Deliverable:  Appointments to and Terms of Reference for a CWGI Leadership Group
  • The CWGI Leadership Committee will continue to facilitate and engage in focused dialogue and broad-based participatory processes necessary to develop a Collaborative Watershed Governance framework.  The Leadership Group will also engage key partners and funding support for the Initiative.  Deliverable:  Development and implementation of the CWGI Work Plan and Business Plan for 2009/10


Formalizing participation in a CWGI Leadership Group will signal Government, First Nations, Resource Sectors and the Public’s commitment to achieving integrated and collaborative watershed governance in BC.  In February 2009, the CWGI Working Group sent letters to a number of potential Leadership Group members to determine their interest in participating in the Initiative. 

Over the next 3 - 6 months, the Working Group will be meeting with CWGI partners and prospective Leadership Group members to formalize their participation. 

Using information and input gathered during Phase 1, the Working Group will seek direction from the Leadership Group to draft a Collaborative Watershed Governance Initiative Terms of Reference and 2009/10 Work Plan for their approval. 

Develop CWGI Business Plan to secure financial support from project partners, governments, industry and other sources. 


By creating a collaborative framework for improved watershed governance would accommodate the continued use of watershed resources in a sustainable way, using clear and collaborative decision making processes that support healthy watersheds and healthy communities.