Great Lakes Governance Essay

3041 words - 13 pages


Great Lakes Governance and its Contribution to the Great Lakes Ecosystem

Great Lakes refer to the collection of the fresh water lakes consisting of the five Great Lakes (Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario) and other numerous minor lakes and rivers (Kettl D.F, 2002). In Africa, Great Lakes refer to a series of lakes located on the floor of the Great East African Rift Valley and they include Lakes Victoria, Tanganyika, Malawi, Albert, Kivu and Edward. The five Great Lakes are located on the Canada-United States border in the northeastern side of the North America. As such, Great Lakes ...view middle of the document...

A need has therefore been aroused to forge a strong cooperation among the nations and also to protect these channels from further degradation. Nonetheless, even with the legislation being put in place, binational cooperation has not been achieved and the ecosystem perspective is yet to be adopted (Marcia Valiante, 2007).
According to Laurent Grands (n.d), lack of national cooperation has proved to be the major impediment towards the realization of a healthy and dignified Great Lakes ecosystem.
After many years of consultations and attempts to protect the Great Lakes ecosystem, the first international agreement to adopt the ecosystem approach to water management was finally signed in the year 1972. This agreement was popularly known as the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA). Due to its comprehensiveness, this agreement has been widely used as the basis for the formulation of other international and local environmental legislations (Marcia Valiante, 2007). The GLWQA called for joint efforts to restore water quality by checking the phosphorous levels and other forms of pollution. As a result, each country was then supposed to develop programs to foresee the control of sewage and industrial wastes. The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement was however too narrow in its water quality objective approach and there was a need to expand the scope to encompass the problem of the Great Lakes toxic contaminations. Consequently, a new approach was adopted and it was named ‘an ecosystem approach to problem identification and management’. (Marcia Valiante, 2007)
According to Bosselmann (2008), there were experienced some periods of vigorous activities in the Great Lakes governance following the signing of the revised Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement in 1978. The implementation of this agreement was however impaired by the emergence of new atmospheric contaminants that affected the Great Lakes ecosystem. This prompted the amendment of the 1978 protocol in 1987. More controversies surrounded the Great Lakes institutions in the early 1990s. The exposure to harmful pollutants in the Great Lakes ecosystem affected the wildlife health posing a greater policy challenge to the Great Lakes institutions. This made the activities in the Great Lakes governance to decline. In addition to this, the ideological changes both in the United States and in Canada, misunderstanding of the ecosystem approach and the downsizing of the government from environmental programs also led to the decline in the activities in the Great Lakes governance (Caldwell L. K. 1988).
The GLWQA was then amended in 1987. This made the two concerned countries, Canada and the United States, to examine the governance aspect of the GLWQA. According to Valiante M, (2007), the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement focused on six aspects namely;
• Participation in Binational Management Process
• Principles, Governing concepts, and Tools Applicable to Implementing the GLWQA
• Review of the...

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