The Lake Superior Binational Forum is the “Stakeholder Committee” called for in the Bi-National Program to Restore and Protect the Lake Superior Basin. The Bi-National Program grew out of the International Joint Commission’s (IJC) recommendation that Lake Superior be “a demonstration area where no point source discharge of any persistent toxic substance will be permitted.” This recommendation originated from the IJC’s concern that the virtual elimination of toxic substances from the Great Lakes Basin as called for in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) had not been substantially implemented. The Federal Governments of Canada and the United States and the States of Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota and the Province of Ontario, all having jurisdiction over the Lake Superior Basin, then instituted the Bi-National Program which called for:
- “A zero discharge demonstration program devoted to the goal of achieving zero discharge or emission of certain designated persistent bioaccumulative toxic substances, which may degrade the ecosystem of the Lake Superior Basin, and
- “A broader program of identifying impairments and restoring and protecting the Lake Superior Basin ecosystem.”
This Charter is a living document that defines the role and structure of the Forum, the role and norms of its members, the relationship to the Governments of the Binational Program, membership criteria, and the decision making process. The Charter adopts the VISION STATEMENT of the Lake Superior Binational Forum and the Binational Program to Restore and Protect the Lake Superior Basin as its guiding principles. The CHARTER guides the Forum in its activities. The primary mission of the Forum is to develop and further define the goals already set forth in the VISION and the Binational Program.
- Is the foundation for the development of policy, procedures and structure of the Forum.
- Is endorsed as a condition of membership and as a guide for the actions, decisions and behaviors of its members.Is a basis for public input to the governments that are party to the Binational Program, the members of the Lake Superior Task Force and the Superior Work Group.
- Is a living document that will change to meet the needs of environmental stewardship in the Lake Superior Basin.
- Establishes selection criteria for future members.
- Supports the intent of the 1991 Binational Program to Restore and Protect the Lake Superior Basin.
Role of the Forum
The Lake Superior Binational Forum will develop and further the goals of the Binational Program to Restore and Protect the Lake Superior Basin, review projects, budgets and activities undertaken by the Governments that were signatory to the Binational Program, the Lake Superior Task Force and Superior Work Group and identify obstacles and solutions to the achievement of goals of the Binational Program. The Forum may also serve as a source of information and stakeholder input to the communities of the Basin on environmental issues that impact the water quality of Lake Superior and the larger ecosystem made up by the Lake Superior Basin. This will be accomplished by a consensus process that provides input and analysis to the Lake Superior Task Force and Superior Work Group. In order to achieve this role, the Forum:
- Will communicate to the Lake Superior Task Force and Superior Work Group in a timely manner.
- Will prepare draft minutes or reports of all Forum meetings, proceedings and subcommittee activities that will be sent to attendees within three weeks.
- Will solicit comments of minutes and reports from Forum attendees in writing within two weeks and identify the authors in the corrected copies.
- Will publish a corrected copy for all members of the Forum and the public.
- Will distribute a final version of the minutes after formal adoption.
- Will be clear about all requests in writing, for information, actions and recommendations, indicating the expected result, type of request and the time frame it is expected.
- Will open all meetings, committee proceedings and actions to the public as well as all communication, information, and financial statements.
- Will allow and encourage public input at all Forum meetings as an agenda item of each day.
- Will have administrative support for Forum programs, activities and meetings.
- Will request adequate funding and support from government sources to administer Forum programs, activities and meetings.
- May accept and disperse funding from non-government sources, such as grants 3 or gifts, as long as there is no conflict or special interest intended by the funding source.
- May work with the governments to provide outreach to the communities and citizens in the Lake Superior basin.
- Will review the “CHARTER” annually and make necessary changes as a living document.
Structure of the Forum
- The Forum will have a Canadian and United States Co-chair. The Co-chairs will be elected for one year terms and be eligible for re-election.
- The Co-chairs are the spokespersons for the Forum, facilitating Forum meetings, activities, and coordinating the administration of the Forum through the administrative personnel funded by each government.
- In addition to the Co-chairs, a Vice-chair will be selected from each country.
- The Co-chair and Vice-chair position from each country will be nominated by Forum members from that country. The candidate selected by each country’s members will be presented to the full Forum for review and approval.
- The term of the Vice-chair will be one year and the person selected shall be eligible for re-election. If feasible, the Vice-chairs will be selected from a different sector than the Co-chair from that country.
- Elected Co-chairs and Vice-chairs will commence their duties at the end of the meeting at which the elections took place.
- The Forum Co-chairs, Vice-chairs or their designates may from time to time attend the Lake Superior Task Force and Superior Work Group meetings.
- The Co-chairs and Vice-chairs will sit on the management committee of the Forum.
- The Vice-chairs will act for the Co-chairs in their absence and upon the request of the Co-chair.
- The Forum will have a Canadian and United States Coordinator who will provide administrative support to the Forum. The Coordinators may be asked by the Cochairs to participate in certain Forum activities, such as insuring that all public presenters prior to their bringing their issues and concerns before the Forum are informed about the roles of the Forum.
- The coordinators may have responsibilities separate from the work to support the Co-chairs. It is the responsibility of the Coordinators to outline these responsibilities and keep the Co-chairs informed. The Co-chairs will update the Forum.
- A financial report will be made by each Coordinator to the Forum at every Forum meeting.
- The Forum will be composed of committees that are empowered and dissolved only by the action of the full Forum. Membership, expectations, boundaries and timelines will be identified by the Forum when empowering task-oriented committees.
- Each Forum subcommittee will have both a Canadian and US Co-Chair. The 4 joint Co-chairs will be elected by committee members for a one-year term and be eligible for re-election.
- Membership on standing committees will be open to all Forum members.
- The Management Committee of the Forum shall be comprised of the Forum Cochairs and Vice-chairs. Ex-officio members will include the following: the two Forum Coordinators, a representative from the Canadian federal government and U.S. federal government, the Co-chairs of the Superior Work Group and a representative from each “host” entity — the agency in the U.S. and Canada that serves as fiscal agent for Forum funds. Ex-officio members shall not have full membership status; they shall be considered resource people and receive all meeting notices and minutes.
- The Forum will be comprised of eleven American and eleven Canadian members plus a Co-chair from each country, for a total of twenty-four members.
- Membership needs will be reviewed by the membership committee, in consultation with both Co-chairs, to determine sectors which need representation and in which country the sectoral representative will be sought. The Forum will seek a balanced membership representing as broad a cross-section of the Lake Superior community as possible, particularly with respect to culture, gender, constituency or experience base. In order to accomplish this balance of perspectives, the Forum will seek membership that includes, but is not limited to, native communities, industry, environmental groups, municipalities and their wastewater treatment systems, education, utilities, small business, tourism, fishing, health care and the general public.
- There will be one position per country to be filled by an individual who represents a “broader Great Lakes perspective” from the environmental advocacy sector. This person may be from outside the Lake Superior basin and will be a member as an individual. Travel costs will be a consideration in the decision making process.
- The Forum will be inclusive in its membership and will search and provide ways for active and committed citizens to participate while achieving the best balance and level of diversity.
- The Co-chairs will be responsible for taking the lead in recruitment.
- When proposed new members are brought to the Forum by the membership committee, the full Forum will affirm the members by a simple majority vote. The proposed members will not be present during this vote. Prior to the Forum meeting where approval will be considered, resumes will be circulated to all Forum members.
- If a member moves outside the Lake Superior region, that individual will no longer be considered a Forum member unless the member is representing the “broader Great Lakes perspective”. If a member moves out of the basin or no longer represents the intended constituency or changes constituency, the Forum member’s change in status will be brought to the Forum for reconsideration.
- Members leaving the Forum that recommend a replacement will be given serious consideration by the membership committee and their potential membership will be in accordance with the guidelines of the “CHARTER.”
- Membership tenure will be continuous and at the discretion of the member.
Role of Forum Members
- All Forum members are expected to support and operate under the “CHARTER.”
- A member of the Forum will be a member of the Forum as an individual. They will not be expected to advance any position other than their best judgment on issues and decision making processes.
- Attendance at Forum meetings is expected. If a member misses two consecutive meetings, his/her membership will be reviewed by the Management Committee. Unexplained absence from any two consecutive meetings without an alternate will usually be cause for removal from the Forum, as determined by the Management Committee.
- Each member is expected to attend meetings in both countries.
- All Forum members shall select an alternate to assume their duties, including attending meetings, when the member is unable to do so. The members should inform the Co-chair or Coordinator. Alternates shall represent the same interest as the Forum member as well as live and/or work in the same region of the Lake Superior Basin as the Forum member. It shall be each Forum member’s responsibility to keep his/her alternate current on Forum activities.
- An alternate cannot attend more meetings than the member in any one year.
- An alternate who has been recommended to replace a resigning member will go through the existing process for selecting a new Forum member.
- Members will be empowered by the Forum and government work groups by giving them access to information, knowledge and understanding of environmental issues in the Lake Superior Basin.
- Members are expected to make informed contributions to open discussions and participate in the decision making process.
- Forum members will be expected to support consensus decisions, actions and recommendations made to the governments.
Relationships with the Governments
- The Forum will be a means to enhance binational public input into the Lake Superior Task Force and Superior Work Group programs and proceedings.
- The Forum will seek government funding for meeting and conference expenses of Forum members, administrative support and programs of the Forum.
- The governments will provide technical information and understanding of environmental issues in the Lake Superior basin in a timely manner.
- Forum requests for information, action or reports from the Superior Work Group
or the government sources will be acted on according to mutually agreed.
Relationships with the Partners
- The Forum recognizes that its effectiveness can be enhanced through balancing its input and analysis role with an advocacy role.
- The Forum will create partnerships with other groups who have secured funding to achieve actions that support the VISION statement and the Binational Program.
- The Forum can facilitate action by providing funding for particular projects to partners.
- The Forum can make Forum recommendations and information available to other appropriate groups such as legislators, local officials and community groups.
- The Forum will follow up on presenters and relevant public issues and share these concerns with other appropriate groups.
- The Forum will create a database with responses to the Forum’s recommendations which will be published in an Annual Report.
- The Forum will advertise activities in partner newsletters, web pages and letters
to editors of appropriate newspapers.
The Forum’s Response to Environmental Issues
- Listen to environmental concerns that potentially impact the government’s ability to implement the 1991 Binational Program to Protect and Restore Lake Superior.
- Proponents may make presentations to the Forum on environmental issues. The entire process will be open and may include government representatives, experts and concerned citizens. The time and process will be determined by the Management Committee and through the agenda setting process.
- The Forum’s role will be to advise the governments that have jurisdictional responsibility on whether or not this matter compromises the 1991 Binational Program to Restore and Protect Lake Superior.
- It is the Forum’s role to advise the governments on policy and issues that the governments need to address the 1991 Binational Program to Restore and Protect Lake Superior.
- It is not the Forum’s role to adjudicate environmental issues, determine their impact or legitimacy, conduct public hearings, or take any action more appropriately done by the governments.
Decision Making Process
- The Forum recognizes there are many different leadership styles and methods for making decisions. Whenever possible, decisions will be made by consensus in a process that is creative, innovative and allows Forum members to freely participate.
- Cooperative efforts and participation is expected from everyone that has input into the decision making process.
- Minority opinions are acceptable and appropriate in the decision making process. These should be made on an exception basis so that consensus decision making can be exercised whenever possible.
- The issuance of minority opinions and how they will be presented will be made by a consensus of the group. This applies to committees as well as the full Forum.
- Voting is considered an inappropriate way to reaching a conclusion.
Relationships and Norms of Forum Members
- Forum members will support and treat each other with respect in a way that maintains dignity and self esteem.
- Disagreement is recognized as a healthy and necessary part of the decision making process, as long as respect for the opinions and individuality are upheld at the highest levels. Resolution should be done by direct and honest feedback.
- Mutual support is expected at all times. This does not mean that we will not disagree, but we will do so in a manner that preserves the dignity and self esteem of every Forum member.
- Forum members will refrain from hidden agendas, innuendos and self serving positions.
- Forum members will be free to express differing opinions without being judged against the commitment for the VISION or CHARTER.
- Forum members and administrative personnel will not accept any gifts, favours or hospitality that might influence their decision making or actions affecting the Forum.
- Behaviour that is contrary to the VISION or CHARTER should be dealt with by the Management Committee.
- It is recognized that a duality of interest may exist with some Forum members, but if a Forum member cannot operate under the VISION or CHARTER on an issue or committee, the member should bring this to the attention of the Co-chair or Management Committee.