A prominent environmentalist is sounding the alarm about a closed-door trilateral meeting to discuss, among other things, large-scale water transfers to combat future shortages in the United States and Mexico despite Canada's standing objection to such a plan.

Next week, government officials and academics from the three countries will gather in Calgary for the two-day North American Future 2025 Project where they'll brainstorm ideas on how the continent should implement policies to deal with various challenges - including security, energy and labour.

But it's the agenda on water that has activists concerned, given that the discussions will be held behind closed doors without public scrutiny, said Maude Barlow, national chairwoman of the Council of Canadians.

''We want this out in the light of day. We tried contacting them and they said this meeting is private,'' Barlow said. ''How could it be private if it is setting up the political and policy framework for the future of North America?''

An outline of the proceedings states that climate change is expected to greatly exacerbate water shortages in the United States and Mexico while Canada, which has the world's largest supply of fresh water in the Great Lakes and elsewhere, is not expected to suffer to the same extent.

It goes on to state that ''creative'' solutions - such as water transfers and artificial diversions of fresh water - may be needed to address the ''profound changes'' that are bound to occur south of the border.

The idea that other countries aren't getting the message about Canada's refusal to allow transfers of its fresh water is scary considering the gravity of the looming crisis, Barlow said.

''The Americans are really getting thirsty. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says there are 36 states that are in peril now, that are in water stress,'' she said.

''There's crisis in the U.S. and the issue of water has moved right up to the top of the national security political ladder - it's big, big, big.''

Federal Environment Minister John Baird, in a statement reacting to the council's concerns, said Canada strictly prohibits transfers of water and that policy isn't going to change.

''The Government of Canada has no intention of entering into negotiations, behind closed doors or otherwise, regarding the issue of bulk water exports,'' Baird said.

Armand Peschard-Sverdrup of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the American think-tank that organized next week's meeting, said that no government decisions are expected to come out of the talks and it's simply a way to discuss different ideas.

''We're not just looking at bulk water transfers, we're looking at the whole gambit of issues and policy options,'' Peschard-Sverdrup said.

''We are a think-tank and what we do is we look at a whole range of issues, no matter how sensitive they may be, or no matter whether they are politically viable or not.''

A spokesman for Baird said he had no plans to attend the meeting.