The University of British Columbia (UBC), in a coalition with Simon Fraser University and Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal (EPDM) have established the Canadian International Resources and Development Institute (CIRDI).
From UBC’s website:
“The Institute’s mandate is to act as a worldwide centre for expertise in the extractive industry sector, relating to developing countries needs in this arena. The institute will be a resource of best practice for: improving and strengthening resource-extraction governance; increasing capacity building in policy, legislation, regulatory development and implementation; and educating skilled workers, providing technical training and assistance, and applying research.”
Funding for the CIRDI comes from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development (formerly the Canadian International Development Agency), and will allow the institute to operate for five years. The strong humanitarian aims of the Institute seem clear, with the Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development website identifying the problems to be addressed in the resource-rich developing world:
“The extractive industries (mining, oil and gas) can provide high quality jobs, generate significant government revenue, attract private investment capital, and grow local enterprises, but many developing countries face challenges in effectively governing and managing their extractive industries to achieve these benefits.”
Bern Klein, acting executive director of the Institute, says that sustainable livelihoods are the goal. Artisanal miners need training and education to protect themselves and the environment, and CIRDI aims to help them down that road. “Education is transformational,” Klein says, in an interview with the Vancouver Sun.
Beyond the five-year point, funding is uncertain, but The Ubyssey cites a UBC report that points to three possible avenues for future funding: “donations from mining, oil and gas companies, donations and grants from other sources, and tuition or fees for CIIEID-provided services.”
This has incited some criticism, with concerns being raised about the independence of an institute receiving funding from these sources. A group of UBC and SFU students have organized a blog under the name “Not From My Campus” to raise awareness about this issue, and are inviting the public to get informed, express their opinions, and continue the dialogue with “the University administration, the Institute leadership, as well as the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development (DFATD).”