Great Lakes

The Great Lakes are a vast shared resource containing a significant portion of the world's freshwater. They are fundamental to the well-being of many Canadians and Americans, as well as sustaining a rich variety of plants and animals. The Great Lakes provide the foundation for billions of dollars in economic activity, and they are a direct source of drinking water for millions of Canadians.

The sustainability of the Great Lakes ecosystem is threatened. The ecosystem continues to experience ongoing biological, physical and chemical stresses, as well as new and emerging challenges like invasive alien species, new chemical contaminants and the impacts of climate change.

To address these challenges, science, governance and action are essential to the restoration and protection of the Great Lakes.

What is Being Done?

Many governments, organizations, groups and individuals are contributing to the restoration and protection of the Great Lakes. Work is being done at the local, regional, lakewide and basinwide scales, and all of these efforts help to restore and protect the Great Lakes. There are many success stories to be told but there is still work to be done.

Environment Canada (EC) plays a significant role in science, governance and taking action to restore and protect the Great Lakes.


EC coordinates and undertakes science activities in the Great Lakes. These include national science programs as well as unique research and monitoring activites tailored specifically for the Great Lakes basin. Great Lakes reports and publications are based on science carried out by EC and others.


EC's governance role includes leadership, coordination and decision-making. These governance activities are carried out in conjunction with American, Canadian federal, and Ontario provincial partners at the basinwide, lakewide and local scales.


Actions to restore and protect the Great Lakes are accomplished in two ways: through Great Lakes specific initiatives, and through a wide range of national programs. In collaboration with other participants, EC is taking action to address ecosystem problems at basinwide, lakewide and local scales.

Infographic: The Great Lakes (See long description below)

Infographic: The Great Lakes

The infographic title is The Great Lakes.

  • Image depicting a map of the Great Lakes above an image of the globe. Associated text: The Great Lakes’combined shoreline is equal to about 42% of the earth's circumference.
  • Image depicting a globe. Associated text: The Great Lakes contain approximately 20% of the world’s fresh surface water.
  • Image depicting clouds and raindrops. Associated text: Less than 1% of the water is renewed annually by precipitation.
  • Image depicting a large group of people. Associated text: 1 in 3 Canadians live in the Great Lakes region.
  • Image depicting an urban landscape. Associated text: The Great Lakes region contains seven of Canada’s twenty largest cities.
  • Image depicting two children drinking from water bottles. Associated text: The Great Lakes directly provide drinking water to over 10 million Canadians.

For more information on the Great Lakes and the role Environment and Climate Change Canada plays in their restoration and protection, visit

Great Lakes Public Forum 2016: Register Now!

Registration is now open for the Great Lakes Public Forum 2016 to be held in Toronto October 4-6, 2016.

For more details and the tentative agenda, visit  You can also join the conversation on Twitter: #greatlakesforum.

Date modified: