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.

Great Lakes Highlights

On December 18th 2014, the governments of Canada and Ontario renewed their commitment to restore, protect and conserve the Great Lakes by signing the Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health (COA).

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