In 2017, mining accounted for 59% of Peru’s exports; Peru’s resource sector a major contributor to the country’s national economic growth. However, the contribution of mining to socioeconomic development and livelihoods, particularly in the mineral-rich yet economically poor Andean highland regions, remains unrealized. These regions continue to be beset by poverty and high levels of mining-related conflict. Some of the underlying causes are the historic exclusion of various groups (Indigenous peoples, women, youth); limited capacity and presence of government as an actor at subnational levels; lack of public participation in environmental assessment processes and planning of resource extraction; lack of integration across sectors and uncoordinated projects and narrow CSR approaches among corporate actors. These factors underscore the systemic challenge for effective resource governance in Peru.
The Co-Laboratorio approach was multi-dimensional and interactive rather than a series of stand-alone initiatives, workshops or conference-style events. The unique aspect of the program was that partners and stakeholders from different socio-economic backgrounds and sectors were engaged as co-creators in the design, planning and implementation of the program. Their input helped form the CoLab’s monitoring framework. As such, this approach, grounded in human-centred design thinking, was developed by the CoLab to be a system-centred approach to foster partnership and innovation. All CoLab work was preceded and supported by a deep understanding of the current state of knowledge and needs from diverse perspectives, before shaping and testing interventions with other stakeholders and beneficiaries in the system and then sharing our learnings to provide further input to the process in a continuous iterative learning cycle. Over half of these stakeholders were women from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds; they played an integral role in every aspect of the program. The Indigenous communities were also represented in the program’s design and implementation as well as stakeholders from both urban and rural settings.
In alignment with CIRDI’s mission, the Co-Laboratorio (CoLab) Peru program was launched in 2014 by a team at Simon Fraser University to help address these challenges. The CoLab Peru program’s mission was defined as the generation of lasting and inclusive benefits for women, men and children in Peru from the sustainable development of its natural resources. The program supported this mission by advancing cross-sector and inter-agency learning and practices, working innovatively and collaboratively with diverse stakeholders to promote mutual learning and systems-level perspectives, embedding activities in local universities to ensure sustainability, and involving students as change agents and promote university engagement. The Co-Lab Peru project focused on these three themes:
Advancing more collaborative, inter-agency and participatory approaches to equitable governance, planning and practices, with a particular focus on impact benefit agreements, industry CSR practices, public participation in environmental impact assessments, and inclusion of women in decision-making.
Fostering and testing innovative solutions for inclusive economic activities and sustainable livelihoods, with a focus on women, youth and indigenous peoples. Co-Lab Peru supported opportunities directly related to natural resources as well as economic diversification, to create more sustainable legacies from mining including inclusive business ecosystems and local enterprise development.
Working with local Peruvian universities for more engaged development work, research and partnerships. Co-Lab Peru fostered inclusiveness through innovative experiential-and community-based learning and collaborative research that connected the universities and students with the challenges faced by the communities they serve.
54% of the 864 program participants were women. The CoLab Peru project has gender as an integral theme throughout the project, including making women’s concerns and perspectives in mining contexts more visible, such as gender-based violence; women’s rights; women’s economic rights and women’s participation in decision-making. It also develops women leaders’ capacities to strategically plan and address social, economic, and environmental challenges in these contexts.
Gender perspectives on mining impacts and priorities have also been integrated into all Co-Lab research projects. This includes evaluating the policy and institutional framework, governance structures and participatory practices as well as social and economic initiatives by government, civil society and resource companies in order to identify gaps and leading practices for improving gender equity and access to benefits in mining regions and related activities. Importantly, the approach ensures the inclusion of women’s own voices in the process.
Improving the governance and implementation of Environmental Impact Assessment was a key focus of CIRDI’s CoLab Peru program. The Co-Lab Peru team was working with SENACE, the newly constituted public agency, part of the Peruvian Ministry of Environment, responsible for the revision and approval of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) for all nationwide public, private and mixed investment projects, including mining. The program also had a specific focus on innovative community-building approaches/methodologies, such as the online engagement platform and the use of mobile technology. In addition, several of the CoLab AQP student intervention projects addressed environmental challenges in Arequipa including a project focused on composting and waste management in the city.
Over 300 of the CoLab Peru stakeholders were from the government, NGO, academic or industry sectors. All program activities incorporated five interrelated governance principles:
1. Collaborative Governance and Inclusive Engagement Practices in Extractives/Applied Research
Through extensive research and over 150 one-on-one interviews (45% women) with industry leaders, government officials, mining workers and community members, this applied research project focused on contributing a better understanding of the practices, evaluation systems, governance processes and effectiveness of company-financed social investment in order to provide recommendations to governments and sector stakeholders on how to enhance the impact and effectiveness of these initiatives. This research also evaluated the policy and institutional framework, governance structures and participatory practices as well as social and economic initiatives by governments, civil society and mining companies in order to identify gaps and leading practices for improving gender equity in mining regions and related activities.
Key Outcome: Over 150 stakeholders were given a voice, an opportunity to contribute to this research, and an opportunity to inform recommendations for change and social action. A final knowledge-sharing session was held in June 2018 at a remote mine site in the Arequipa region.
2. Unleashing the Power of Women in a Mining Context
Based on CoLab systems-centred design methodologies, charrettes and interviews, the focus of this program stream was to make women’s concerns and perspectives visible to multiple actors at multiple scales, to develop women’s capacities to lead and plan strategically and to enhance access to knowledge and information for and with women.
The program included numerous leadership circles and innovative working sessions focused on making gender policies cross-cutting (national/regional/local levels), incorporating gender approaches into management instruments across agencies and ministries, formulating regional policies and strategic planning, and strengthening women’s capacities.
Key Outcome: 469 women beneficiaries from diverse backgrounds and sectors will build on the knowledge and leadership skills gained from the CoLab Peru program to work collaboratively towards a more inclusive society.
3. Digital Innovation for Shared Governance / Using Technology Towards Inclusion
In a designated community in Peru which has been impacted by the mining sector, an innovative pilot program named “Alo SENACE” tested the use of new mobile technologies and anonymous texting to overcome cultural and systemic barriers to women’s participation, and to foster inclusive community- member participation in Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) processes.
Key Outcome: 1,326 stakeholders (59% of women) contributed to and benefitted from this innovative program. The new technology and methodology of inclusion will be considered by SENACE as a way to engage more community members in the EIA process in remote communities in Peru affected by the mining industry.
4. CoLab AQP / Engaging Students as Social Innovators
The CoLab AQP university program was co-developed and implemented as an innovation lab to build the knowledge and capacity of students as future leaders and change agents. Students from UCSP and cross-sector collaborators worked together on creative solutions to real-life sustainable development challenges facing women, youth, and indigenous groups in the Arequipa region. This campus-community-engaged approach to learning was completely new to the students as well as the university and it will continue beyond the end of the CoLab Peru program.
The program represented an innovation on other lab models by addressing systemic challenges and exclusions and incorporating stakeholder collaboration components to address the complex challenges faced in Peru.
Key Outcome: UCSP, the 40 student participants and the community stakeholders involved in this program have been introduced to this new concept of learning that extends beyond the classroom and seeks new and innovative solutions to real issues facing the surrounding communities.
5. Leadership AQP / Governance and Leadership Program
Based on stakeholder feedback, the Leadership AQP – Governance and Leadership Certificate Program (eight days over three sessions) was co-designed to promote integration and collaboration and to support the management of cross-cutting systemic issues related to mining, inclusive growth and sustainability. The cohort was 54% women, age range 23 to 60, with representatives from government, civil society, the private sector and NGOs (representing sustainability, economic development and health).
Key Outcome: The 39 men and women graduates of this intensive Leadership program will use the knowledge and relationships they gained to become more effective and forward-thinking leaders.