On April 12, 2013, the Mowat Centre of the University of Toronto and the Canada-U.S. Law Institute of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland successfully launched the Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR). Dawson Strategic played a key role in the inception of this organization. While still maintaining DS client work, Laura Dawson will serve as Acting Executive Director, on a part-time basis until a permanent director is appointed.
The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region is comprised of two provinces, eight states, over forty First Nations, and numerous Canadian and U.S. regional authorities. With a population of 105.6 million, a $4.5 trillion GDP and supplying 18 percent of the world’s fresh water, “the Great Lakes are the heartland of North America and support one of the most vibrant economies in the world.”1
The positive global impact of the region is evident. If it were a nation state, it would represent the 4th largest economy in the world. Cross-border trade supports 2 million jobs, and the region is rich in oil and natural gas deposits. With an area of 95,000 square miles covered with fresh water, the Great Lakes region is a world leader in the generation of hydroelectric power.
However, the region faces many challenges that stem from state and provincial legislatures, businesses, academics, and NGOs, working in different directions. More profound collaboration is needed across borders and among all sectors, to make progress on the particular economic and environmental issues of the region and to make the Great Lakes voice heard in Washington, Ottawa, and around the world.
Although there are a number of national and cross-border organizations within the Great Lakes dealing with various economic and environmental issues, there is no single organization that deals with the economic transformation, prosperity, and sustainability of the region in an integrated way.
The CGLR fills a void by speaking for the region’s interrelated long-term economic and ecological interests and by furthering these objectives through a series of tangible projects. These include:
- Economic impact of declining Great Lakes water levels – to provide a comprehensive economic evaluation of the impact of low water levels on specific sectors across the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region.
- Mutual skills recognition for regional workforce development – to facilitate regional recognition of highly skilled worker certifications and to more efficiently respond to skilled labour shortages.
- Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region tourism initiative- to develop a bi-national tourism plan, including the creation and marketing of vacation programs, hike/bike trails, and the designation of a world heritage biosphere.
- Reduction of regulatory, border and capacity barriers to Canada-U.S. trade, especially in the SME sector.
- Building coherence in regional security issues such as emergency preparedness and threat assessment.
With a solid foundation in place, CGLR’s next steps are to work with partners throughout the Great Lakes to identify and act upon regional priorities.
This summary is drawn from a longer report available here