Watersheds was a series of forums held in watersheds across British Columbia (and online) in the decade from 2010 to 2020. The people who initially catalyzed the Watersheds series recognized an urgent need for change around how water and watersheds are managed and governed. They recognized that fresh water in B.C. faces many challenges, and addressing them requires cross-cutting solutions in water law, policy, and governance. Grappling with these challenges requires us to work together—across cultures, disciplines, and institutions—and to build or re-build relationships with each other based on trust, respect, and meaningful collaboration.

Rather than host a boring one-off conference, the Watersheds gatherings were developed from the outset as an ongoing series of “solutions forums”—offering a space for water champions across B.C. to check in every couple years, re-kindle connections, review new freshwater priorities or policy or governance changes, and to celebrate the good work so many people are doing across the province.

Each forum was uniquely developed and co-hosted by several partners with an emphasis on place-based learning and immersive experiences, including local Indigenous protocols and field trips on the land. And each unique gathering brought forward new and innovative ideas, skills development, and community-building. For a decade, these gatherings inspired and nourished B.C.’s water community by intentionally offering a space for participants to explore themes around building a provincial-scale watershed governance movement, and also to engage with specific, relevant local priorities in deep and fulsome ways.


This image communicates the unfolding journey towards place-based watershed governance in B.C. While this journey is ongoing, this graphic focuses on the decade between 2010 and 2020 and uses the biennial Watersheds forums as touchpoints along the way. Created by Sam Bradd (Drawing for Change) with Kelly Bannister (POLIS) and Claire Wood (POLIS).


By focusing on regional successes, unique opportunities, and solutions, these forums had local impact while also resonating across B.C. and beyond.  This is why many of the themes, resources, and sessions have such long-term value—even, in some cases, 10 or more years after the original forum was held.

Even though this phase of the Watersheds work has now run its course, the people behind these forums believe there is still value in the “Watersheds approach” and the new paths forward that this series of gatherings offered. As such, they are committed to refreshing and evolving this work as needed to address the ongoing challenges facing fresh water and communities across B.C.

The information archived on this website—proceedings reports, photos, videos, and lists of partners and speakers—offers a robust memory of these past events, reminding us of the people, places, ideas, and actions that have catalyzed and grown the B.C. watershed movement that we are all part of today.


Learn More About Each Gathering


Solutions Forum 2012: Water Gathering: Collaborative Watershed Governance in B.C. and Beyond
xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Territory | Vancouver, B.C.
January 26-27, 2012

Watersheds 2014: Towards Watershed Governance in British Columbia and Beyond
Quw’utsun’ Territory | Duncan, B.C.
January 27-29, 2014

Watersheds 2016: Building Capacity for Collaboration and Watershed Governance in British Columbia
xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Territory | Vancouver, B.C.
September 30-October 1, 2016

Watersheds 2018: Planning for Success: New thinking for land use and water governance
Online & lək̓ʷəŋən, Songhees, Esquimalt, and W̱SÁNEĆ Territory | Victoria, B.C.
January 1-June 30, 2018

Watersheds 2020: Stepping Stones to Collaborative Watershed Governance
October 15-16, 2020