Welcome to CIRDI Alumni Network!

If you are a CIRDI fellow or have participated in our Summer Institute pilot program, training workshops, seminars or conferences, we invite you to be a part of the CIRDI Alumni Network.

We are excited to bring together the global community of alumni and help you stay connected to CIRDI and fellow alumni. We hope you will be able to take advantage of the resources we will make available for you in the near future. Through this site, you will have the opportunity to learn about fellow alumni, share your stories and photos and participate in webinars and other learning events.

Lessons Learned

See what CIRDI alumni are saying about their learning experiences.

Edika Masisi

National Environment Management Council. Alumna of Mine Closure workshop in Tanzania, March 2017

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your role?

My name is Edika Masisi, I am a Geologist and Environmental Hydrologist, working as a Senior Environmental Management Officer at the National Environment Management Council in Tanzania. I’m in a Directorate of Environmental Impact Assessment, that deals with screening and reviewing reports related to mining and energy sectors, as well as inspecting and auditing related facilities (mining industry included).

What are the most pressing mine closure-related issues currently in Tanzania? How did the CIRDI workshop help address some of those issues?

Tanzania as a country did not have experience in mine closure issues until recently when some of the mines started closing. Almost all regulatory bodies did not have capacity to handle mine closure issues. Only one gold mining project has been properly decommissioned so far.

At the workshop we learned about decommissioning practices elsewhere around the globe and also had the opportunity to share our own experience through MTL, so it helped the participants to deepen the understanding of mine closure and to develop diverse alternatives of mine closure.

What difference has this training made in your professional life? Has it prompted any concrete changes in your work?

The knowledge obtained at the workshop gave me more confidence when reviewing the mine decommissioning plans submitted to our office for improvement before providing recommendations to the Minister for certification.

How has your perception of mine closure issues changed after hearing international experts? Were there any surprising discoveries?

I had ideas of what it meant but I was lacking the feel of it, so learning from experienced people and discussing real life examples/practices of how it is done elsewhere provided additional knowledge and a good kick-start towards improvement.

At the six months’ mark, what do you see as the most valuable lesson?

The most valuable lesson is strengthening management of decommissioning fund, restricting its use to mine closure activities only. Another important achievement is having personnel with enough technical know-how to guide the development of mine closure alternatives.

I thank the international experts for the knowledge and practical experience they shared with us.

Priya Bala-Miller

PhD Candidate, University of British Columbia, Canada. Summer 2017 work-learn student

Please tell us a little bit about yourself and the degree program you’re pursuing at UBC.

Having been born in India, raised in the Middle East and Canada, and having built a career with international organizations that advance sustainability and social justice for over 15 years, I consider myself to be a global citizen – both by choice and circumstance.

This global identity and affinity for solving sustainability challenges played a key role in my decision to pursue a PhD in Political Science (Comparative Politics and International Relations) at UBC. My dissertation, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, evaluates the role and impact of institutional investors in advancing corporate compliance with global human rights standards and norms.

What sparked your interest in spending this summer as a work-learn student at CIRDI?

I chose to take up a summer work-learn position at CIRDI as it offered an excellent opportunity to deepen my knowledge of resource governance issues from a Canadian perspective, as well as to contribute my skills and background in program management, monitoring and evaluation for a complex portfolio of projects related to sustainable development.

Natural resource sectors are at particularly high-risk of perpetuating social inequality, environmental degradation and human rights abuses due to a variety of structural and context-specific issues. Coupled with increasing demands for natural resources, the scale of these challenges is expected to grow in the immediate future. A summer at CIRDI allowed me to better understand how these mega-trends are playing out within particular markets, and the potential role of the private sector in mitigating the negative impacts of resource development in the Global South.

Was CIRDI your first international development experience? If not, how was it different from your previous experience in the field?

I had previously worked to advance consumer protection and trade union rights in line with global sustainable development goals. My in-country experience focused on Europe and Asia, although I was responsible for managing projects in collaboration with project partners in The Americas, Africa and Pacific regions as well. Unlike my previous roles, my time at CIRDI did not involve direct field experience.

What was your role and what projects did you work on?

My main responsibilities were to support and strengthen processes for results-based management and reporting to CIRDI’s primary donor – Global Affairs Canada. This involved aligning project-level impact metrics with institutional-wide performance targets for existing and new projects, and providing advice on developing CIRDI’s technology platform for streamlining the reporting process. In addition, I drafted an organizational strategy for embedding and advancing Gender Equity across CIRDI’s work.

I also had the opportunity to participate in strategic discussions about CIRDI’s role in the broader development assistance landscape, efforts to address climate change and improving resource governance.

Finally, I provided an analysis of CIRDI’s program development and fundraising process and provided recommendations for improving the speed and efficiency of CIRDI’s pipeline for new projects.

Do you feel you were able to make real contributions to these projects?

CIRDI has a fairly “flat” organizational structure, and CEO Cassie Doyle invited active participation and meaningful contributions from students who were part of the Work-Learn program at the outset. I believe this early signal from senior leadership was crucial to setting a tone within CIRDI about the tremendous value students can bring to ongoing projects, from technical skills to region-specific knowledge. In my case this translated to a high degree of involvement in organization-wide strategy and policy discussions, and a genuine appreciation by CIRDI staff of my skills and experience in the development sector. These positive interactions with CIRDI staff provided much needed insights into my strengths and weaknesses, and more importantly raised my sense of self-efficacy and competitiveness as I look ahead to the job market next year.

What was the most challenging part of your time at CIRDI?

It was a challenge to balance multiple priorities over the summer at CIRDI. As the work was highly interesting, timely and relevant, it was difficult to keep to the allocated 20 hours per week, while writing my dissertation and managing the responsibilities associated with having a young family. Although these challenges are common to many graduate students, from my perspective, the flexible work culture (such as later start times and home-working) at CIRDI was very helpful in my efforts to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

What moments will you remember with a smile?

The highlight of my summer at CIRDI was the opportunity to interact with its fantastic staff. They are a talented, knowledgable and hard-working group, and in my experience very collegial and warm. I especially appreciated being the first student to receive the “Loon Award” – a weekly staff-nominated acknowledgement of notable contributions. It was a lovely, fun and motivating little gesture.

How will this experience help you in your career?

My time at CIRDI has reaffirmed the importance of local partnerships in delivering technical assistance effectively. Each of CIRDI’s projects are implemented through impressive partnerships with host-governments, academic institutions, civil society and local communities. CIRDI staff have developed a strong repository of approaches to foster and maintain this ‘social-capital’ despite unique and challenging operating contexts (such as conflict-affected and fr

agile states). I have also come to appreciate the significant impact of political transitions on how development aid is delivered, both within our domestic context in Canada, and for host governments such as Mongolia and Colombia.

Overall, my role at CIRDI has enabled me to update my knowledge of current trends in results-based management and Canadian development assistance priorities. I have gained valuable exposure to resource governance experts within CIRDI’s network, and built positive working relationships with CIRDI staff.  The skills, knowledge, and professional network I have been able to develop over this summer aligns well with my future career plans.

Where to from here?

Following the completion of my PhD, I hope to take on a senior-management role within an organization working to advance the business and human rights agenda globally, and expect to continue academic research on related themes.


We have inaugurated the e-learning series with a webinar on Rehabilitation of Mined and Quarried Out Lands in Jamaica: Successes and Challenges, presented by fellow alumna Mrs. Stacey Plummer,  Chief Inspector of Mines, Mines and Geology Division, Ministry of Mining, Jamaica

The webinar examined the Jamaican approach to rehabilitation of mines and quarries from the regulatory perspective. Several initiatives have recently taken place to increase compliance and promote safer environmental practices. We discussed the amendments to the Mining Regulation, as well as the role of the National Restoration committee in these developments. Lessons learned, challenges and successes were illustrated by several case studies. The case study selection included unique projects of bauxite mining rehabilitation lands, where crop experiments were carried out and showed yields greater than the national average on lands never used for mining.

Stay tuned for announcements of upcoming webinars.




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