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Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health, 2014

ANNEX 11: PROMOTING INNOVATION

The purpose of this Annex is to create long-term, environmentally sustainable economic opportunities that improve water quality and ecological health and contribute to the well-being of the Great Lakes community.

Ongoing support for water quality and ecosystem protection in the Great Lakes will require public understanding of the local and regional business cases for environmental protection and a long-term commitment to seek new and efficient ways of delivering it.

By promoting innovative practices and technologies to keep our lakes clean and healthy, we can continue to enjoy the many benefits and prosperity they bring for generations to come. At the same time, as the global demand for water-related technology increases, Great Lakes restoration can also play a role in generating jobs and prosperity through the development of marketable water innovations.

The Great Lakes are a natural tourist destination for domestic and international visitors. Each year thousands of people experience an incredible array of diverse landscapes, including the region’s National and Provincial Parks. The Great Lakes form a natural setting for waterfront festivals, recreation activities and heritage attractions that strengthen communities, build local economies, and present opportunities for people to vacation close to home.

Canada (with the support of the Federal Economic Development Agency) and Ontario support the work of the Southern Ontario Water Consortium, which is creating a platform for research, demonstration and testing of water and wastewater technologies and services for local, national, and global markets.

The Ontario Water Opportunities Act, 2010 together with Ontario’s Water Sector Strategy and Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy, will help make Ontario a leader in water innovation. Currently, water and wastewater is the largest sub-sector of Ontario’s environment industry, employing 22,000 people in high-paying jobs, generating $1.8 billion in sales. Ontario’s Great Lakes basin contains 40 percent of the country’s economic activity. Global opportunities in the water sector are significant, as the sector is estimated to be valued at USD $424 billion, doubling in size every 10 years. Ontario businesses have broad expertise, including ultraviolet disinfection, membrane filtration technology, leak detection and repair, and watershed management.

This Annex includes commitments to build capacity in the water and wastewater sector, enhance ecosystem goods and services, and encourage sustainable tourism and recreation opportunities. Opportunities to access and enjoy the Great Lakes will encourage more people to value them and support water quality protection, ultimately increasing the number of people engaged in lake stewardship.

Goal 1: Position the Great Lakes as a hub for new water and wastewater research and development, technology innovation, demonstration and commercialization, and use innovative technologies to address outcomes such as water conservation and efficiency, nutrient recycling and water quality protection.

Result 1.1 – The Great Lakes region becomes a key contributor in the growth of the water sector/market, and a global leader in applying innovative technologies, services and solutions to remedy environmental problems.

Ontario will:

  • (a) Foster innovative research and development hubs, support demonstration and commercialization initiatives (e.g., Water TAP) to attract global research and development leaders to the Great Lakes region, and encourage companies to develop innovative solutions for local and international markets;

  • (b) Work with companies to commercialize their new technologies (e.g., by supporting demonstration initiatives such as Water TAP), and access markets, approvals, information or training related to commercialization and demonstration;

  • (c) Foster an environment where entrepreneurs can develop solutions for local and international markets by continuing to improve processes, approvals, information or training related to commercialization and demonstration;

  • (d) Identify opportunities to support pilot and demonstration projects that address identified provincial priorities (such as nutrient recovery, green infrastructure, low impact development, and managing nutrients, wastewater and stormwater) and encourage municipal, industrial and developer uptake of innovative technologies;

  • (e) Identify one or more international forums to showcase Great Lakes technology innovation and share lessons learned from various programs and projects, such as Showcasing Water Innovation; and

  • (f) Leverage Ontario’s success protecting the Great Lakes when promoting Ontario’s water sector and helping firms export to global markets.

Goal 2: Maintain or enhance the capacity of the Great Lakes to provide ecosystem goods and services for Ontarians to enjoy and to support environmentally sustainable economic development.

Result 2.1 – The Great Lakes community is more aware of the benefits of environmentally-sustainable economic development.

Ontario will:

  • (a) Communicate information to the Great Lakes community on the economic benefits resulting from Great Lakes commitments; and

  • (b) Increase awareness and/or promote the use of new technologies, services and practices to improve sustainability in the water sector’s growth and development.

Result 2.2 – Economic growth linked to opportunities derived from sustainable tourism and recreation dependant on the Great Lakes.

Ontario will:

  • (a) Identify opportunities for participation, linkages and efficiencies to better implement waterfront revitalization;

  • (b) Encourage increased public access to waterfront areas where possible, to enhance community and tourist appreciation for the Great Lakes;

  • (c) Continue to support waterfront festivals, sporting events and heritage attractions that build Great Lakes engagement and foster sustainable shoreline use;

  • (d) Continue to promote and support sustainable waterfront trail systems that link communities and support local economies around the Great Lakes through walking, cycling and other trail activities; and

  • (e) Work with the cruise ship industry to capitalise on and further enhance the Great Lakes cruising industry in order to attract more visitors and generate more economic activity.
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