The Great Lakes Commission is an interstate compact agency that promotes the orderly, integrated and comprehensive development, use and conservation of the water and related natural resources of the Great Lakes basin and St. Lawrence River. Its members include the eight Great Lakes states with associate member status for the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Québec. Each jurisdiction appoints a delegation of three to five members comprised of senior agency officials, legislators and/or appointees of the governor or premier.
The Commission was established by joint legislative action of the Great Lakes states in 1955 (the Great Lakes Basin Compact) and granted congressional consent in 1968. A Declaration of Partnership established associate membership for the provinces in 1999.
For more information, review the Great Lakes Commission Bylaws and the State Membership Composition of the Great Lakes Commission. You can also download our printable brochure.
The Great Lakes Commission is a public agency established by the Great Lakes Basin Compact in 1955 to help its Member states and provinces speak with a unified voice and collectively fulfill their vision for a healthy, vibrant Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River region. Commission products and services focus on communication and education, information integration and reporting, facilitation and consensus building, and policy coordination and advocacy.
The purpose of the Commission is to carry out the terms and requirements of the Great Lakes Basin Compact, as noted in Article 1: To promote the orderly, integrated, and comprehensive development, use, and conservation of the water resources of the Great Lakes Basin.
The Great Lakes Commission is a leader among regional institutions, serving its Members – the states and provinces – by helping them collectively fulfill their vision for the region.
The Commission is a respected and trusted voice because its products and positions are built on collaboration with others, encourage economic prosperity and environmental protection, and are science-based. The Commission is an important binational forum that fosters dialogue among decisionmakers in its Member states and provinces to enable them to reach consensus on the region’s priorities and speak with a unified voice.
Commission programs provide leadership in the areas of communication and education, information integration and reporting, facilitation and consensus building, and policy coordination and advocacy.
Restoring the Greatness
Since its establishment over 50 years ago, the Great Lakes Commission has been a pioneer in applying principles of sustainability to the development, use and conservation of the natural resources of the Great Lakes basin and St. Lawrence River. The Commission recognizes and promotes the complementarity of environmental protection and economic goals and has built its reputation on an integrated and objective approach to public policy issues and opportunities.
All Commission activities are directed at realizing its vision of a strong and growing economy, a healthy environment, and a high quality of life for all citizens. Three principal functions support this vision:
- Communications among the membership and the entire Great Lakes-St. Lawrence community;
- Policy research, development and coordination on issues of regional interest; and
- Advocacy of those positions on which members agree.
The Commission addresses a range of issues involving environmental protection, resource management, transportation and economic development. A committee and task force structure is the primary vehicle for identifying and addressing issues and recommending the adoption of policy positions by the membership. Observer organizations — including U.S. and Canadian federal, regional and tribal governments — participate extensively in Commission activities.
Binational and Growing
The Great Lakes Commission is the only state/provincial organization of its kind in the world. Founded in both state and U.S. federal law and benefiting from a unique, binational partnership with Ontario and Québec, it is ideally suited to promote a consistent and coordinated interagency and integrated approach to issues associated with the greatest system of freshwater on the face of the earth.
The Commission is supported by an experienced professional staff with scientific, policy and technical credentials. Its offices are located in Ann Arbor, Michigan.