Charting a Path: Water and Canada’s Natural Resource Sectors






Our process helps Canada achieve sustainable development solutions that integrate environmental and economic considerations to ensure the lasting prosperity and well-being of our nation.


We rigorously research and conduct high quality analysis on issues of sustainable development. Our thinking is original and thought provoking.


We convene opinion leaders and experts from across Canada around our table to share their knowledge and diverse perspectives. We stimulate debate and integrate polarities. We create a context for possibilities to emerge.


We generate ideas and provide realistic solutions to advise governments, Parliament and Canadians. We proceed with resolve and optimism to bring Canada’s economy and environment closer together.

Charting a Path: Water and Canada’s Natural Resource Sectors

report cover

February 2009

Freshwater resources are critical to Canada’s natural resource sector. The natural resource sector is, by far, the largest water user in the country and is thus a major influence on the sustainability of Canada’s water resources.

Although Canada has a relative abundance of freshwater resources, it is not free from water management challenges. Rising and competing demands for water resources create water quantity and quality issues as well as allocation challenges. These challenges are expected to intensify as the consequences of climate change and increased demands take hold. They are having, and will continue to have, significant impacts on ecosystems and are predicted to have major implications for the natural resource sectors, including potential serious economic impacts.

The effects of climate change on quantity and quality of Canada’s water resources will be profound. Climate change risks and impacts are increasingly being considered in industry planning and policy decision-making alongside other risk factors; however, integrated approaches to finding solutions are still in their infancy.

Adaptation and mitigation of these impacts are in the early stages in Canada. In some cases, firms have already implemented adaptation measures to climate change; however, a mix of policy responses will likely be necessary to achieve the goals of watershed and sector sustainability for the four water-dependent sectors we are examining.

While a wealth of research information related to water and the natural resource sectors exists, gaps remain. As a convener of diverse and competing interests and a catalyst for sustainability solutions, the NRTEE wants to seize this opportunity to advance Canada’s public policy knowledge and research and provide recommendations to governments and others on the sustainability of water and the natural resource sectors.