Webinar: The ESG Landscape and Contextualizing it for the Great Lakes Region

Apr 20, 2023, 10 am CDT
Register here.

The ESG movement is indicative of a fundamental shift in the global economy. Companies that develop a thoughtful approach to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance to help manage risks and build resilience have an opportunity for competitive advantage and improved long-term performance, benefiting their business but also the region(s) in which they operate. ESG reporting and disclosure is a quickly evolving space and will have implications for public and private companies operating in the Great Lakes region. 

Public companies will be increasingly exposed to new reporting standards and mandatory disclosure regulations focused on consistent and comparable disclosure for investors. This will eventually include Scope 3 GHG emissions, which extends into the supply chains of organizations. Private companies with large publicly traded customers will face growing pressure to report their GHG emissions to customers so they can fulfil these disclosure obligations. 

These efforts do not happen overnight, and a significant amount of change management is required to effectively navigate this new territory.

The webinar, sponsored by the Council of Great Lakes States, will feature Sarah Keyes, CEO of ESG Global Advisors, who will address the important topic of ESG in business and contextualize it for the Great Lakes region. She’ll answer questions such as:

  • What is ESG and how does it differ from CSR?
  • Why is ESG important for the Great Lakes region? what do businesses need to know?
  • How do businesses get started with integrating ESG into their management?

During the webinar, Sarah will also take questions from the audience and share examples of good practice.

UN 2023 Water Conference – virtual side event: Fostering Resilience Through Cooperation in Transboundary Waters

Mar 20, 2023, 2 pm CST
Register here.

Now more than ever, effective cooperation is vital to ensure decision-makers have the tools to respond to rapidly-evolving water challenges, particularly in waters shared along international boundaries.  Inviting the knowledge and collaboration of those who are sustained by these waters – including Indigenous Peoples – is essential to these efforts, which are built upon an adaptive management approach.

This 2-hour virtual side event, linked to UN 2023 Water Conference themes 3 (climate resilience) and 4 (transboundary water cooperation), will illustrate how greater collaboration across borders – scientific, cultural, and economic – can promote the more resilient management of shared waters in an era of climate change.


Four presentations and case studies – spanning South America, Europe, and North America – will highlight the value of bringing diverse and competing interests together to learn from one another, collect data, discuss and analyze impacts, and cooperate on the sustainable management of shared waters.

Welcome and opening remarks.

Dr. Christopher Wilkie, International Joint Commission

Presentation 1: Lessons from the 25th International River Symposium (Vienna, Austria). Bringing together science, business, communities, NGOs and government to advance international efforts towards resilient rivers.
– Philip Weller, International RiverFoundation

Presentation 2:  Safeguarding freshwater resources through regional engagement, innovation, and exchange (Canada – United States).
– Mark Fisher, Council of the Great Lakes Region

Presentation 3: Towards a Blue Pact for the Lake Titicaca basin (Bolivia-Perú). Bringing civil society, government, and water users together to strengthen the sustainable management and use of transboundary waters.
– Vladimir Arana, International Secretariat for Water

Presentation 4: Supporting sustainable decision-making through public engagement (United States-Canada). Learning from those most impacted by severe flooding in the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River region.
– Commissioner Pierre Béland, International Joint Commission

Commentary: Achieving climate goals in Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin

Read the full story at Energy News Network.

Climate leadership in Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin could revitalize the Midwest. And the timing couldn’t be better.

Good news: Some toxic insecticides are vanishing from the atmosphere

Read the full story at Environmental Health News.

Some once-common insecticides linked to harmful human health impacts are disappearing from the air in the Great Lakes region, though others still persist, according to new research.

Some widely used insecticides are persistent in the environment, meaning they don’t break down quickly and can build up, causing problems for human and environmental health. Many insecticides used in agriculture or pest control in buildings are considered persistent and remain in the atmosphere, water and soil for years or even decades. But new research shows that in the Great Lakes region, at least three persistent insecticides are nearly eliminated, mostly as a result of regulatory action taken decades ago. Scientists say the results show the importance of swift action to ban the use of new persistent chemicals.

Webinar: Great Lakes Freshwater Symposium: The Impact of Phosphorus Rules on Local Water

Feb 28, noon-1 pm CST
Register here.

Anya Janssen, water policy specialist at the Center for Water Policy and Sea Grant University of Wisconsin water science-policy fellow, will present key takeaways from the recent statewide conference Phosphorus: Lessons from 10+ Years of Numeric Standards for Wisconsin’s Waters.

Participants will have the opportunity to discuss how lessons learned in Wisconsin can be applied to other states/provinces on the Great Lakes. They will participate in breakout rooms to talk about how they can get involved in setting a phosphorus research and policy agenda for the next decade.

This is the first event in a series of quarterly water symposiums sponsored by the Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin, Great Lakes Higher Education Consortium and Council of the Great Lakes Region. These symposiums seek to encourage and advance collaborations, share science across borders, encourage students in research and career opportunities and present research that is solving real-world problems.

Action Plan for a Resilient Great Lakes Basin

Download the report.

The action plan helps to prioritize efforts and forms a roadmap to advance climate resilience in the Great Lakes basin. The action plan leverages existing efforts and supports collaboration among jurisdictions to promote shared learning and resources, and to create strategic partnerships that accelerate efforts for a more resilient and adaptive Great Lakes basin and that the waters of the Great Lakes are fishable, swimmable, and drinkable for everyone in the region

‘Circular economy’ programs aim to reduce waste and build jobs

Read the full story from Ideastream.

While meeting with a local farmer two years ago, Eric Diamond of Central Kitchen, a food business incubator in Cleveland, Ohio, learned that the farmer wasn’t able to sell all the carrots in his fields. Some of the carrots – while perfectly nutritious – weren’t the right size or shape for grocery stores’ and restaurants’ specifications. That sparked a question, and a business idea was born.

“I said to him, ‘What do you do with the carrots?’ and he said, ‘We leave them to rot in the fields because we don’t have an end market,’” said Diamond. “So, I said, ‘What if we buy the ones that don’t meet your specifications, and we process them and sell them to school districts?’”

Soon afterwards, the farmer, Wayward Seed Farm in Fremont, Ohio, began taking the carrots that would otherwise have been thrown away and dropping them off at Central Kitchen. They processed the carrots into 5-pound bags and sold them to school districts. Recently, with the help of a $30,000 grant from Circular Cleveland, Central Kitchen bought a new commercial grade food processor called a Robot Coupe which allows them to process carrots much faster.

“We had five people with knives cutting up carrots and dumping them into bags,” said Diamond. “We could only do 1,500 pounds in an eight-hour shift. Now, we can do 1,500 pounds in a couple of hours – and no calluses.”

Business and civic leaders in Cleveland like Diamond are turning to a new idea termed the “circular economy” – premised on reusing materials and turning them into new products rather than throwing them away – to help grow jobs and businesses, reduce waste, and improve the environment. Those would be welcome benefits in Cleveland, which is one of the poorest big cities in the country, with a poverty rate of 29.3% in 2021, according to the U.S. Census. According to the International Labor Organization, the circular economy could create a net increase of six million jobs globally by 2030.

Great Lakes platform aims to be a go-to source for waterway data

Read the full story at Centered.

Data is everywhere, and more is being collected as sensors and other Internet of Things devices become more common. The Great Lakes Observing System launched Seagull, a cloud-based platform, to give people in the Great Lakes region access to a plethora of real-time data about their surrounding waterways.

Seagull brings together data harvested from the region’s diverse sources into a unified, accessible platform. Some of the hundreds of sources include satellites, models, and sensor-equipped lake buoys. Seagull replaced GLOS’s legacy data portal that was not cloud-forward and had become outdated.

Scientists warn of health impacts as Great Lakes plastic pollution grows

Read the full story at Bridge Michigan.

Tens of millions of pounds of tiny pieces of plastic called ‘microplastics’ enter the Great Lakes each year. Exposure is linked to learning and memory issues in animals; researchers fear similar effects on humans. Experts say minor policy changes like banning microbeads are inadequate to combat the issue

Study finds lake cleanups help house values recover

Read the full story at Bridge Michigan.

A $34.9 million cleanup of heavily contaminated Muskegon Lake and White Lake in West Michigan is estimated to have recovered $16.4 million in lost housing value for nearby homeowners, according to a recent study.