The Great Lakes declared a Commons and Public Trust at the Saving the Great Lakes Forever Conference in Traverse City

On May 6 and 7th, I attended the Saving the Great Lakes Forever conference in Traverse City, Michigan. Maude Barlow kicked off the event with a keynote address at the State Theatre. She was first welcomed by Mayor Chris Bzdok who gave her a key to the city. She outlined the threats of the Great Lakes and explained why we need to declare the Great Lakes a Commons, Public Trust and Protected Bioregion. The Council of Canadians launched her report Our Great Lakes Commons: A People's Plan to Protect the Great Lakes Forever at the conference.

On Saturday, Wenonah Hauter began the morning with a speechon the various threats to water including fracking and bottled water. Afterwards, there were a number of panels including: 1) Abuses to the Great Lakes Water Basin Invasive Species, Deep Fracking, Mining and Asian Carp, 2) Threats of Privatization of our Public Water Resources and Diversions of the Waters from the Great Lakes Basin and 3) Documentary Crossing the Line: Defending Wisconsin’s Environmental Commons – the Defeat of Nestlé’s Perrier Group. I sat on the panel on the Threats of Privatization of our Public Water Resources and Diversions of the Waters from the Great Lakes Basin and discussed privatization threats in Canada including the Alberta water markets, the Canada-Europe Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement and First Nations drinking water (or lack thereof).

We ended the conference with a roundtable discussion on Solutions to Saving the Great Lakes Forever. The panellists included: Wenonah Hauter (Food and Water Watch), Melissa Scanlan (MEA), Jim Olson (FLOW for Water), Frank Ettawageshik (Great Lakes Tribal Policy) and myself. We ended the conference by declaring the Great Lakes a Commons and Public Trust. To read the Grand Traverse Resolution, click here.

There were many committed organizations, activists and residents at the conference, all of who were excited to move forward together in implementing commons and public trust principles to their Great Lakes' communities.