The ZIP concept was developed in 1988 by Environment Canada. Intended exclusively for the ZIP committees and Stratégies Saint-Laurent, the program provides financial support to encourage the concerted action of stakeholders working along the St. Lawrence River in order to further their commitment to improving the quality of their environment. Fourteen ZIP committees were established along the St. Lawrence and the Saguenay during the second and third phases of the St. Lawrence Action Plan (1993-2003), 13 of which are still active today.
ZIP committees are local organizations for concerted action with the mandate of bringing together the main users of a particular section of the St. Lawrence and facilitating concerted action between them in order to resolve local and regional problems regarding the ecosystems of the St. Lawrence and their use.
Responsibilities of committee members:
- establishing common ground—including between groups with vastly divergent interests—with a view to taking action
- establishing consensus on priority actions in order to achieve the desired results for the population of their zone
- creating a common vision for the rehabilitation and protection of the St. Lawrence
- sharing information and expertise
ZIP committees and the integrated management of the St. Lawrence
Because of their expertise in matters relating to the joint efforts of stakeholders operating along with the St. Lawrence, the ZIP committees have been called to participate in the implementation of integrated management of the St. Lawrence.
In 1989, many Quebec environmental groups, headed by the Union québécoise pour la conservation de la nature (UQCN), came together to create Stratégies Saint-Laurent. Stratégie Saint-Laurent helped set up the ZIP committees along with the St. Lawrence and still offers them services that ensure cohesive action along with the St. Lawrence (training, extranet, opportunities for exchange, etc.). Stratégies Saint-Laurent’s main objective is to bring the ZIP committees together in order to facilitate concerted action at the inter-regional, provincial and national levels, as well as to involve the public and regional officials in protecting, safeguarding and developing the St. Lawrence.