Watersheds 2014: Towards Watershed Governance in British Columbia and Beyond

January 27 - 29, 2014

Quw'utsun' Cultural and Conference Centre
Duncan, B.C.


Watersheds 2014, “Towards Watershed Governance in British Columbia and Beyond” was a three-day forum, held on Cowichan Tribes territory in Duncan, British Columbia from January 27th to 29th, 2014. 

Watersheds 2014 focused on bringing forward new and innovative ideas, skills development and capacity-building for watershed groups, First Nations, and community watershed champions. The delegates who attended are part of a network of engaged leaders, volunteers, and professionals working to better collaborate with stakeholders and rights holders, government, industry, and not-for-profits to improve collaborative governance as it pertains to their home waters. This national event featured speakers from across the country and around the world, with a particular emphasis on watershed governance opportunities in B.C. It explicitly integrated perspectives from First Nations, researchers, practitioners, government, community organizers, and funders from across the public and private spheres.


In “Taking the Pulse & Setting the Scene: Water Attitudes & the Emergence of Watershed Governance”  keynote presentation, speakers shed light on attitudes towards fresh water and sustainability, and put watershed governance in its broader context as an emerging priority and opportunity.

In “Water as Our Relative: Redefining How we view Water in Governance Processes” keynote presentation, speakers acknowledge water as something with a spirit and life force, discuss transforming the status quo for water governance by using core indigenous/in-situ value and belief systems, and describe the role of women and youth in water governance.

In “First Nations & Water Governance: Understanding the Framework”panel presentation, participants explored the role of First Nations in watershed decision-making and how water governance and management processes can be built to be respectful and inclusive of First Nations rights. This panel aimed to express how much the rest of Canadian society could learn by listening carefully to what First Nations have to say about how to sustain land, water, and community culture.

In “The Cowichan Experience: An Adventure in Governance Evolution”, panel presentation, participants focused on how the Cowichan Watershed Board is succeeding in building local trust and offers lessons for other organizations facing similar challenges. 

In “Social Finance 101: Emerging Ideas to Support Community-Led Governance” keynote presentation, speakers defined “social finance” and aimed to express how new collaborations and unlikely partnerships are generating a host of innovative opportunities to change the status quo and support new solutions. This keynote presentation explores the question of how they can be used to support watershed governance and related investments for the benefit of ecosystems and communities.