Upper St. Lawrence/Greater Montreal Round Table launched
After a long planning stage, the Regional Round Table for the Upper St. Lawrence and Greater Montreal Area began operating on September 29.
Its mission is to provide a forum for discussion where participants commit to collectively define the principles, directions and actions that will lead to sustainable use of water resources and the protection of aquatic ecosystems, for the benefit of the population of its area and area downstream along the St. Lawrence River.
Based on the enthusiasm and expertise of its coordinator, Nicolas Milot, this Regional Round Table will definitely have legs. However, this expert in water resources governance, an engineer by training with a PhD in environmental science, must bring together a large number of participants from quite diverse backgrounds: aboriginal, municipal, economic, community and government, as well as the integrated water management resources sector.
To ensure that its projects are carried out, the Regional Round Table (RRT) has adopted a strategic advisory board composed of more than 35 organizations chosen from its members, including the Port of Montreal. The representatives of these organizations are responsible for choosing which of many issues will be given priority treatment by the round table.
Nicolas Milot, coordinator of the
Regional Round Table
A strategic advisory board
The Table’s coordination is provided by local ZIP Committees, which govern areas of prime concern. Each of these committees has brought together on the strategic advisory board such major stakeholders as the Port of Montreal, Hydro-Québec and Quebec’s professional farmers’ union, the Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA). “It’s not your average structure,” according to Nicolas Milot. “Better yet, the people who represent these organizations on the round table have decision-making power and influence in their respective sectors.”
Ultimately, for each issue addressed, the RRT partners will reach agreement on what directions to take. These options will then be sent back to the respective organizations who, each in their own environment in their own area, must take measures to turn these options into solid, measurable and verifiable actions.
“Not everything is resolved by force. We’re counting on the interplay of ideas, awareness-raising and concerted efforts among the members who talk things through around the table,” explained Nicolas Milot. His key words are relationships of trust, accommodation, compromise and common ground.
“For sure at the outset, everybody doesn’t understand the issues in the same way,” he said, referring to members’ very different interests. Some of them come from the environmental sector, for example, and others from private business. “The round table is mainly a place to share information. It’s where we create an understanding of the issues that is common, coherent and comprehensive. When we reach agreement on directions, it’s the result of many small collective victories!”
Five Regional Round Tables have been created in Quebec to date: along with Montreal there are RRTs in the Magdalen Islands, Quebec City, Lac Saint-Pierre and Sud de l’estuaire moyen (the area between Montmagny and Rivière-du-Loup).
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