Great Lakes Restoration and Climate Change Symposium

The purpose of the Great Lakes Restoration and Climate Change event was to convene Great Lakes leaders and climate experts to assess the range of impacts of climate change on the Great Lakes, and to develop policy-based strategies to integrate climate variation into future restoration and stewardship practices. Jenny Kehl, the director of the Center for Water Policy at University of Wisconsin’s School of Freshwater Sciences, spearheaded the meeting and action plan.

The symposium addressed this issue in two ways. The first was to identify the range of science-based climate change impacts on restoration and management within several important focus areas, including non-point source pollution, nearshore health, toxic substances, invasive species, wildlife habitat protection and restoration, agriculture water use, and energy water use. The second was to develop recommendations and policy-based strategies to integrate climate change impacts into future restoration projects in these focus areas.

The overarching conclusion from the event is that the impacts of climate change are already urgent and consequential in the Great Lakes system. Participants developed suggestions for incorporating climate change into measurable and achievable actions for practice and policy, which are now available for other working groups, task forces, stakeholders, and stewards to use in new and existing restoration projects.

Some of the resulting recommendations are to:
• Expand the region’s renewable energy portfolio.
• Involve farmers in nutrient and land-use policy formation.
• Galvanize diverse constituencies of the Great Lakes environment.
• Adopt a watershed-based approach to pollution control.
• Calculate the “virtual water” used to produce food and goods.
• Aligning Farm Bill incentives with local stewardship priorities.
• Account for the true cost of water.

The Great Lakes are one of the world’s greatest natural assets. According to the EPA, they hold 21 percent of the world’s surface freshwater and approximately 84 percent of North America’s surface freshwater.

Publication Date: April 2014

Related Organizations:

  • University of Wisconsin


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Policy analysis/recommendations

States Affected:


Go To Resource