Integrated Management of the St. Lawrence

An inclusive approach

What is integrated management of the St. Lawrence?

Integrated management of the St. Lawrence is a permanent process based on the cooperation of all decision makers, users and civil society for the planning and more effective harmonization of measures governing the protection and use of the resources of this important ecosystem from a sustainable development perspective.


The challenges facing the St. Lawrence vary in relative importance (public opinion, action priority, etc.) and status (stability, degeneration or improvement), or reflect the emergence of new issues.

Town of Percé 

Many parties have a stake in the health of the St. Lawrence. The governments of Canada and Quebec act within their respective jurisdictions in managing the St. Lawrence, particularly through programs operated by their departments or ministries, organizations and agencies. Their work is complemented by activities conducted by municipalities, Aboriginal communities, all users of the St. Lawrence, and civil society.

Integrated management requires an approach that fosters a climate of consensus building among all decision-makers, users with a stake in the future of the St. Lawrence, and civil society. The goal is to ensure that the interests and requirements of the various players involved are represented to ensure that their activities and interventions are coordinated in a coherent manner.

The success of this effort, which enables participants to clearly identify action priorities and reach consensus on common objectives, depends on everyone participating in the collaborative process.

Concertation: combining efforts

Concertation is defined as an induced or autonomous process involving the collective construction of questions, visions, objectives or common actions by means of a horizontal dialogue between the participants, who voluntarily commit themselves and recognize each other’s right to take part (Beuret 2006).

Concertation is therefore a process and not a procedure. At an early stage of concertation, a «world of cooperation» is built, that is, a common language and acknowledgement of legitimate rights. Decision-making is not the primary objective of concertation; its value lies first and foremost in working together to develop shared objectives, which will then guide the implementation of complementary and synergistic actions by all the stakeholders (based on: French Water Academy 2008).

Governance mechanisms

Discussions on the concept of the integrated management of the St. Lawrence were initiated as part of the fourth Canada–Quebec Agreement on the St. Lawrence (2005–2010).

Des intervenants rassemblés lors du premier Forum Saint-Laurent qui a eu lieu en mars 2012

New water resource governance was established in Quebec with the adoption of the Québec Water Policy in 2002 and confirmed by the adoption of the Act to Affirm the Collective Nature of Water Resources and Provide for Increased Water Resource Protection in 2009.

This legislation confirmed Quebec’s interest in proceeding with the integrated management of the St. Lawrence. The act stipulates that the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and the Fight against Climate Change may provide

for the establishment of governance mechanisms to ensure, for all or part of the St. Lawrence, co-operation between users and stakeholders in various sectors, and the planning and harmonization of measures for the protection and efficient use of water resources and water-dependent natural resources […] (section 14.4(a)).

Through implementation of the integrated management of the St. Lawrence (IMSL), the integrated water resource management (IWRM) approach can be extended to all of southern Quebec while complementing the area already covered by watershed-based integrated water resources management(ajouter hyperlien).

The IMSL has led to the holding of the annual Forum on the St. Lawrence and the gradual establishment of the regional round tables.