How It works

The CLI Project is generously funded by the BHP Foundation that works to address some of the world’s most critical sustainable development challenges. They are a charitable foundation funded by BHP and through their programs, address challenges that are directly relevant to the resources sector.


The CLI model is about creating the conditions for Indigenous and municipal decision makers to get important work done, together.

CLI provides a tested and structured process that focuses on relationship-based consent and shared interests. It is people-centred, rather than command and control or regulation-based, and it is founded on a successfully tested assumption: given a choice and a structured path, leaders will choose to employ their resourcefulness and creativity to build trust and reconciliation.

The creation of a CLI table at four selected locations across canada provides a platform for Indigenous and municipal decisionmakers to enhance policies and practices that ensure the health of water resources and aquatic ecosystems. CLI improves the governance and management of water by creating a model that can be implemented nation-wide.

At the conclusion of the Transformative Reconciliation Process, the established shared governance table enables elected leaders to strive toward collaborative consent– a process of committed engagement between Indigenous and non-Indigenous governments.They act as equal partners to secure mutual consent on proposed paths forward related to matters of common concern and all aspects of governance.

The CLI model was developed by CIER and our partners based on decades of experience navigating the challenging legal and political terrain of collaborative governance across Canada. The model is rooted in lessons learned by CIER’s Executive Director, Merrell-Ann Phare, and project partner Michael Miltenberger (North Raven) in the Northwest Territories as they led the negotiations of the ground-breaking Mackenzie River Basin Bilateral Water Management Agreements from 2010 to 2016.

These negotiations demonstrated the transformative water outcomes that can be achieved when Indigenous and non Indigenous leaders work together on an equal basis from a strong foundation of trust and understanding.

Get Involved

CLI offers a pathway built on reconciliation that provides a platform and structured process for Indigenous and Municipal elected leaders to work together. This proven model can transform water governance across Canada in a very meaningful way.

We are passionate about supporting Indigenous municipal water governance initiatives that remove the status quo barriers and move forward collaboratively on issues of common concern.

If you would like to connect with the CLI team, please email us at