News Archives

IISD says $1.1 mln for Lake Winnipeg will support integrated management approach

WINNIPEG—June 25, 2009—Funding of $1.1 million to help clean up the Lake Winnipeg watershed will help develop an integrated water resource management approach, which is critical to dealing with the problem, according to the International Institute for Sustainable Development.

Canada Treasury Board President Vic Toews announced the release of funding by Environment Canada for 14 projects under the Lake Winnipeg Basin Initiatives involving two projects managed by IISD’s new Water Innovation Centre (WIC), headed up by Henry David (Hank) Venema.

Lake Winnipeg is fed by a vast water basin covering 960,000 square kilometres extending over four provinces and four U.S. states. The problems facing the lake are the result of excessive phosphorus and nitrogen from agricultural, municipal and natural sources ending up in the lake. More than half of these nutrients originate outside Manitoba’s borders.

“The problems with Lake Winnipeg are compelling and complex,” Venema said, adding that the transboundary issues alone are an important dynamic in reducing pollution in Manitoba’s largest lake.

The Environment Canada funding will accelerate two key WIC projects—one concerning the restoration of Netley-Libau Marsh. The other, in partnership with the Red River Basin Commission, concerns multi-purpose land and water investments that produce nutrient and flood reduction benefits.

“The proximity of the Water Innovation Centre to Lake Winnipeg in essence offers a dynamic and living laboratory where we can test new innovative water management strategies and policies that offer valuable lessons for similar circumstances in many other parts of the world,” Venema said.

About WIC and IISD

The Water Innovation Centre will develop, communicate, and help implement an integrated Lake Winnipeg Basin strategy based on natural capital and integrated water resources management principles. The Centre will respect the mandates of other water-related agencies, take into account the importance of regional initiatives and provide technical, logistical, and policy support to federal and provincial agencies, community groups and municipalities.

Since 2004, IISD has conducted seminal analyses on Prairie watershed issues, identifying the Lake Winnipeg watershed as ecologically vulnerable. Our work in ecosystem service and community management assessments, as well as our pioneering efforts in ecological engineering approaches to Lake Winnipeg Stewardship—paved the way for the Water Innovation Centre.

For more information, please contact Henry David (Hank) Venema Phone: +1-(204)-958-7706 or IISD media and communication officer, Nona Pelletier Phone: +1-(204)-958-7740, Cell: +1-(204)-962-1303.

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IISD Board welcomes new members: launches search for new president and CEO

WINNIPEG—June 12, 2009—The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) international board of directors is meeting in Winnipeg this week to discuss important new business, including a search for a president and CEO.

The two-day meeting began with the appointment of three new members to the board, replacing Laxanachantorn Laohaphan, Khawar Mumtaz, and Mohamed Sahnoun who retire after many years of dedication, hard work and outstanding commitment to sustainability and the vision and mission of IISD. Mohamed Sahnoun becomes a Distinguished Fellow of the Institute, as well as former chairman of the board Jacques Gérin.

Board member Stephanie Cairns is also stepping down to lead the search for the new president and CEO to replace David Runnalls, who is retiring in 2010 after a decade in the position.

The new board members and fellows offer a wealth of sustainable development experience in the fields of education, governance, business and the environment.

“Isabelle Hudon, Papa Kwesi Nduom and Erna Witoelar are renowned leaders and bring considerable experience to IISD,” said board chair Dan Gagnier.

With the addition of these new directors, there are now 20 members of the board, representing nine countries. IISD’s board of directors meets twice a year.

New members of the board:

  • Isabelle Hudon is President of Montreal ad agency Marketel. She was previously President and CEO of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal. Currently, she is Chair of the Board of the Université du Québec à Montréal, the Société du Havre de Montréal and the Fondation les petits trésors of the Rivière-des-Prairies Hospital. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of Aéroports de Montréal and Holt Renfrew Canada. She was part of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 2005 roster, and honored in 2006 as one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100.

  • Papa Kwesi Nduom is a renowned entrepreneur in Ghana. He owns hotels in Accra and Elmina and has been a board member of the Ghana Heritage Conservation Trust. He has been Ghana’s Minister for Energy and was a presidential candidate in 2008. He worked his way through the University of Wisconsin, where he earned his Ph.D. in Service Delivery Systems.

  • Erna Witoelar is Indonesia’s UN Special Ambassador for the Millennium Development Goals in Asia and the Pacific. She was the former Minister of Human Settlements and Regional Development (1999-2001) and a former member of the National Assembly of Indonesia. She currently serves as chairperson of the Indonesia Biodiversity Foundation (KEHATI), co-chair of the Partnership for Governance Reform in Indonesia, and an Earth Charter Commissioner (based in Costa Rica). Before joining the government, she pursued a long career in civil society. She is a board member of several civil society organizations at national and international levels, including chair of the YIPD (Foundation for Local Governance Innovation), and advisor to the Indonesian Association of Municipalities and Association of Districts.

About IISD

International Institute for Sustainable Development is a Canadian-based not-for-profit organization with a team of 60 employees based in Winnipeg (our head office), Ottawa, Geneva and New York and an additional 90 interns, writers, and researchers in 30 countries around the world. At its core, IISD supports the integration of economic, social and environmental considerations into decision-making. Its vision is better living for all—sustainably; its mission, to champion innovation, enabling societies to live sustainably.

For more information, please contact Nona Pelletier, IISD media and communications officer, phone: +1 (204) 958-7740 or cell: +1 (204) 962-1303.

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Climate change poses threat to peace and security in Middle East

WINNIPEG—June 2, 2009— A new report developed by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), commissioned by The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and launched this week in the Middle East, has found that climate change may hold serious implications for peace and security in the Levant.

Climate models are predicting a hotter, drier and less predictable climate in the Middle East—a region already considered the world’s most water scarce and where, in many places, demand for water already outstrips supply. For Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, climate change threatens to reduce the availability of scarce water resources, increase food insecurity, hinder economic growth and lead to large scale population movements. This could hold serious implications for peace in the region, according to the report.

Rising Temperatures, Rising Tensions: Climate change and the risk of violent conflict in the Middle East (PDF – 4.4 mb) is the latest report on the links between climate change, peace and conflict by IISD, an independent Canadian policy think tank. Drawn from extensive consultations and workshops throughout the region, augmented by desk research, the report makes three key points:

  • The legacy of conflict in the countries of the Levant undermines the ability of countries and communities in the region to adapt to climate change. The history of hostility and mistrust in the region greatly complicates efforts to collaborate over shared resources, to invest in more efficient water and energy use, to share new ways to adapt to climate change and to pursue truly multilateral action on climate change. Ultimately, climate change presents an even more serious challenge than it would otherwise.

  • The report shows that climate change itself poses real security concerns to the region. It may increase competition for scarce water resources, complicating peace agreements. It may intensify food insecurity, thereby raising the stakes for the return or retention of occupied land. It may hinder economic growth, worsening poverty and social instability. It could lead to destabilizing forced migration, increased tensions over refugee populations, the increased militarization of strategic natural resources and growing resentment and distrust of the West.

  • Nevertheless, the report points out there is much that national governments and authorities, civil society and the international community can do address the challenge of climate change, and in so doing, address some of the threats it may pose to regional peace and security. They can promote a culture of conservation in the region, help communities and countries adapt to the impacts of climate change, work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and foster greater cooperation on their shared resources.

Note to Editors:

For more information on preparations for the Climate Summit in Copenhagen in December 2009, see

More of IISD’s work on environmental change and security can be found at here.

For more information please contact the authors:

Oli Brown ( or Alec Crawford (

For additional information or assistance please contact:

  • Nona Pelletier
    IISD Winnipeg
    Phone: +1 (204) 958-7740
    Cell: +1 (204) 962-1303

  • Damon Vis-Dunbar
    IISD Geneva
    Phone: +41 (22) 917-8748
    Cell: +41 (78) 818-0501

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