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.

Changing Currents: Water Sustainability and the Future of Canada’s Natural Resource Sectors – Advise

In June 2010, the NRTEE released Changing Currents: Water Sustainability and the Future of Canada’s Natural Resource Sectors. This report provides a description of the relationship between Canada’s natural resource sectors and water, focusing on the current and emerging key water issues facing the sectors.

The world’s supply of freshwater is limited and finite. While Canada is blessed with an abundance of freshwater, an expected increase in the development of the natural resource sectors begs the question of whether our country has enough to support economic growth while also maintaining the health of our ecosystems. We need to know whether we are in a position to sustainably manage our water resources for future generations and if we have the capability to deal with issues like an anticipated change in precipitation patterns caused by climate change.


Executive Summary

As Canada’s largest water user, growth in our natural resource sectors means we must think fresh on how to ensure strong water management so that use of this precious resource is made sustainable for our environment and economy.

Access to clean, sustainable supplies of water is essential for the operation and growth of Canada’s major natural resource sectors — energy, mining, forest, and agriculture. The health of our ecosystems is also dependent upon those same clean, sustainable water supplies, creating the potential for competing uses. With development of the natural resource sectors on the rise, does Canada have enough water to support economic growth while maintaining the health of our country’s ecosystems? And are we in a position to sustainably manage our water resources for future generations? Canada’s apparent water abundance masks a looming scarcity challenge for our important natural resource sectors and for certain regions of our country. [Read more]

Collaborative Governance

Water governance and management are central to ensuring sustainable water use by Canada’s natural resource sectors. Water governance refers to the processes and institutions through which decisions are made about water. This includes the range of political, organizational, and administrative processes used to make and implement decisions, as well as how decision makers are held accountable. [Read more]


In order to understand the linkage between water sustainability and Canada’s natural resource sectors, the NRTEE examined (1) the importance of freshwater to our ecosystems, (2) the governance structures managing water in Canada, and (3) the most important water uses and critical issues within each of the natural resource sectors. [Read more]


The NRTEE has identified four water sustainability issues that are of national importance, cutting across all natural resource sectors and jurisdictions. These are water governance and management, the impacts of climate change, the water-energy nexus, and the public licence to operate. [Read more]

Next Steps

The NRTEE believes that the opportunity is now to put Canada on a policy path to ensure sustainability of our water and natural resource sectors. We must ensure that Canada’s ecosystem services are protected to ensure the long-term health of our natural environment. At the same time, we need to ensure that our natural resources are developed in a sustainably responsible manner, and do not significantly impact upon our natural environments including our water resources. To do so, Canada needs to put in place a national framework for integrated water governance and management and should do so before water availability is constrained. Governments and water users are currently in a position to consider trade-offs of water use as well as future options. [Read more]





At a glance 

changing-currents-water-leaf-1 (75 pixels)

About the sectors

changing-currents-water-leaf-3 (75 pixels)

Electricity Sector

changing-currents-water-leaf-6 (75 pixels)

Oil and Gas Sector

changing-currents-water-leaf-4 (75 pixels)

Agriculture Sector

changing-currents-water-leaf-5 (75 pixels)

Mining Sector

changing-currents-water-leaf-2 (75 pixels)

Forest Sector