CIRDI’s Work Learn Student Spotlight: Citlali Cruz


CIRDI’s Work Learn Student Spotlight series highlights the diverse profiles and experiences of our amazing students as well as their impactful work that we are proud to share with you. Enjoy this latest blogpost from Citlali Cruz, a recent graduate of UBC’s Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs program, who spent two terms at CIRDI as a Research Assistant.

Citlali Cruz, Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs (MPPGA, UBC)

“My name is Citlali, and I recently graduated with the Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs degree from UBC. My focus lies on competition policy, digital platforms regulation, and blockchain technology.  In particular, I am interested in studying technology solutions that help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

I started my Work Learn position at CIRDI in September 2019, where I had the chance to contribute to the project development team as a Research Assistant. Working at CIRDI has been a very fulfilling experience as I met an incredible team that was always open to sharing their knowledge on so many different subjects. This allowed me to learn a lot about the Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (ASM) sector, the concepts of the Blue Economy, the Circular and Bioeconomy, and to get involved in impactful projects that are being developed by a committed team.

At CIRDI, I had the chance to apply the skills acquired during my master’s program, such as developing knowledge products, as a critical part of the policy process. In my role, I got to explore the benefits of local procurement policies in the mining sector to support the social and economic development of partner countries. After completing in-depth research on identifying stakeholders’ interests and goals, I worked with Engineer Without Borders on writing a series of policy briefs to communicate how civil society, governments, and consultants can benefit from using their Local Procurement Report Mechanism. Working on this project was very inspiring as its goals align with certain Sustainable Development Goals, such as strengthening inclusive and sustainable economic growth through the development of a robust social licence to operate.

During my Work Learn term, I expressed a keen interest in exploring the impact of new technologies like blockchain on the ASM sector from a gender perspective. With the support of the program development team, I wrote a research proposal as well as conducted an initial literature review that focuses on the use of blockchain applications to trace diamond, cobalt, and gold value chains, using gender-based analysis as an evaluative lens. Given that there is very limited empirical work on the impact of blockchain applications on gender equality, this report could be used to motivate a policy-oriented discussion among academics and policymakers in order to prompt a more incisive set of policy reflections at the nexus of ASM formalization, technology and transformative gender relations. Overall, this experience allowed me to refine my research skills and build expertise in the field I want to develop my career in.

The opportunity to contribute to CIRDI’s international projects and programmes as a Work Learn student gave me real-world skills that are essential in policymaking, and a body of experience that will allow me to advance my career.”