A Celebration of Learning! CIRDI’s Workshop on Leading Practices in Natural Resource Governance


To mark the culmination of six years of hard work and lessons learned while delivering a suite of 22 projects on sustainable and inclusive natural resource governance, the Canadian International Resources and Development Institute (CIRDI) convened a Leading Practices Workshop on 24-25 April 2019.

Hosted at the magnificent Liu Institute for Global Issues at the University of British Columbia, the event brought CIRDI partners, subject matter experts, and program leads from the Institute’s many project sites including Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Guyana, Kenya, Mongolia, Peru, and Senegal. Featuring dynamic and engaging work completed by all three founding universities – the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, Ecole Polytechnique Montreal – workshop participants came together to share important takeaways and discuss opportunities for CIRDI’s future development.

CIRDI’s Leading Practices workshop © CIRDI


The Leading Practices workshop engaged over 100 peers from academia, industry and civil society, and has become an important indicator of CIRDI’s achievements and lessons learned in its foundational years.

Using CIRDI’s work as a springboard served to facilitate open and frank discussions and reflections on how to achieve the full economic impact of the natural resource sector while also advancing its sustainable development.

The panels provided our local and international counterparts with an opportunity to illustrate the commonalities in different approaches, tools and practices that have led to successful project results. In particular, the workshop participants mentioned the influence of different bureaucratic models, economic contexts, environmental factors, history, and social and community needs in shaping resource governance approaches. Workshop participants shared a strong consensus on the importance of indigenous engagement, effective multi-stakeholder consultation, and rigorous applied research as tools to ensure resource use, development and extraction generate sustainable and inclusive benefits for all.

Evidence of cumulative impact:

The Leading Practices workshop also helped CIRDI to map and measure some cumulative impacts from the past 6 years. Notable highlights are that:

  • CIRDI has worked in 22 countries, with over 186 partners ranging from global institutions to community groups, to most everything in between;
  • CIRDI has trained or actively enhanced the knowledge of over 3,699 men and women through technical training, workshops, conferences and study missions – of these, approximately 38% were women;
  • CIRDI has supported local and national governments, as well as regional governing bodies, in developing and implementing 12 new extractives-related policies;
  • CIRDI has supported three universities, one each in Peru, Senegal and Burkina Faso, in starting new master’s programs;
  • CIRDI has supported more than 13 peer-reviewed academic articles, in addition to a host of other research reports, case studies, project reports, government-requested diagnostics, and master’s and doctoral dissertations;
  • CIRDI has worked with more than 45 students over the years, facilitating direct work experience within international program management and design.

Panel highlights:

The panel on Transformative Education took the opportunity to look closely at our experiences working directly with miners in the ASM sector of Ecuador in order to build their capacity to adopt more efficient and sustainable mineral processing techniques.  Dr. Gerald Fallon, an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Studies at UBC, and TransMAPE project Academic Lead, shared his personal takeaways from TransMAPE where CIRDI has adopted the concept of social learning:

There is no such thing as model for education… it depends on the context. With TransMAPE, what I learned, was the necessity to truly capture exactly what’s going on in terms of the context, not only in terms of technical challenges and so on, but in terms of monitoring systems and social impact – all of these factors have to be considered when you are trying to look at what kind of learning pathways would be the most effective and the most connected to the reality of small scale miners.”

Read more here: Education as an Entry Point to the Positive Transformation of Ecuador’s Small-Scale Mining Sector.

Panel on Transformative Education © CIRDI

“Participatory Processes in Environmental Governance in Latin America, Canada and Mongolia” touched upon nuances of community participation in environmental governance, with special attention paid to experiences influenced by ASM and LSM mining regions in different countries.

Nathan Skubovius, a member of the Tahltan First Nation, spoke to a Canadian experience from a perspective of educational training for younger generations. Nathan has started a non-profit, Tene Mehodihi Environmental Program, that provides students with the practical training and focuses on combining education, culture and indigenous knowledge to help them develop their passion in pursuing further studies in mining. Among the unique aspects of practical training in the participatory monitoring context that Nathan has mentioned were:

“Our work is a little different from other groups. We are not doing the community monitoring program…. But we are trying to teach the students how to do things, we are giving them the basic skills so that they understand what the mining companies, the exploration companies and the environmental companies actually do. We are giving our students the skills so that they will maybe want to do it in the future, they are also going to take that knowledge home to their parents and explain what they learned about monitoring, about sampling.”

Panel “Research in Action: Balancing Research and Development Outcomes” © CIRDI

The panel “Research in Action: Balancing Research and Development Outcomes” explored the innovative methods and barriers in applying research into international development practices. For instance, the Peru Co-Lab Project, which was delivered by the team of SFU, emphasized inclusive governance in its method and addressed the discrimination women face in access to decision-making and economic resources. One of the main project achievements was the creation of Women Leadership Circles and Learning Sessions, that provided the platform for collaboration and facilitated women to raise their voices on key resource governance issues.

As June Francis, one of the project leads, stated, “The experts exist in every aspect of the society. How do you bring that genius to the table? How do you truly bring those people together to find the space and comfort and the feeling that they will be heard, and that something will come out of it? In Peru, there is a lot of talking, a lot of dialogue. But the frustration was – where does it lead? The first thing we did as academics, we recognized the need to not to bring the solution but to co-create, to have local people lead this…Co-Lab Peru brought together a cross-sector group of people (from mining companies, NGOs, mining communities, government, and academia) and we convened a session where we disseminated what we had learned and used that learning to shift into a posture of co-creative interventions.”

CIRDI recognizes this need and continues to serve an important role as a neutral convener that brings diverse people together to define their own solutions. Looking ahead, CIRDI will continue to work towards long-term sustainability and growth, while delivering results within the natural resource governance space alongside our partners.

The Leading Practices in Natural Resource Governance workshop was live-streamed, with video recordings of the panel sessions available on CIRDI’s Facebook page.

More highlights from the Leading Practices workshop panels to follow.