CERLAC & partners awarded SSHRC grant for project on extractive industry governance

York University, through CERLAC, is the lead partner in a 2.5-year Partnership Development Grant project that was awarded $200,000 in the November 2011 Social Sciences and Humanties Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) competition - part of the over $3 million granted to York-led projects in that round. The project, entitled "Developing a partnership on extractive industry governance and related knowledge mobilization", is global in scope and involves 5 additional institutional partners as well as a supporting network of leading academic experts and NGO practitioners. The principal investigator is CERLAC Fellow Prof. David Szablowski (Law & Society, York).

As outlined in the grant proposal, the rapid worldwide expansion of extractive industries (EI) has produced controversy and debate about how these industries contribute to or impede progress toward equitable development, respect of human rights, environmental sustainability, respect for indigenous rights, and democratic governance. The knowledge base for these debates, however, is partial and fragmented, drawing on an extensive but relatively narrow body of academic and non-academic literature that focuses primarily on specific cases in individual countries.

The overall goal of the partnership project is to promote collaborative and comparative research across regions, disciplines, and sectors to address important knowledge gaps about EI and to mobilize knowledge among researchers, public officials, business leaders, and civil society organizations to inform public debates that may lead to improved policy frameworks. The Partners propose to achieve the project's aims through a series of coordinated research, training, and networking activities aimed toward the eventual establishment of an interdisciplinary, cross-regional, and cross-sectoral EI Research Network.

The project will produce 12 critical reviews of the state of knowledge -"state of the art" reports - to systematize existing knowledge and identify emerging patterns, globally and regionally, on two priority themes: "Constructing and Contesting EI Governance" and "EI Corporate Strategies and Social Responsibility." The partners will also produce two Synthetic Reports on overall findings to develop new theoretical frameworks and research questions for future collaboration. The project will circulate knowledge in different formats to make it accessible to different groups of actors involved in policy debates and practical experiences relating to EI governance.

The partnership builds upon established cooperative relationships among institutions and researchers that came together through two previous SSHRC-funded activities: an EIConference in March 2009 and a Workshop in November 2010. The project will be carried out by scholars from six partner institutions located on four continents: in addition to York/CERLAC, the partners are Université du Québec à Montréal, Clark University (USA), Universidad del Pacifico (Peru), Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain), and Niger Delta Environment and Relief Foundation (Nigeria). It will also benefit from the collaboration of colleagues in the Asia Pacific region. For the full list of co-applicants and collaborators, see page 7 of the SSHRC awards announcement here. See also the prior CERLAC news item on an earlier phase of this initiative (and a prior SSHRC grant application) here.

As well as the mentioned state of the art and synthetic summary reports, the project's principal activities and outputs include: an interactive website; a workshop; policy briefs; and the development and delivery of teaching curricula for a graduate seminar on EIs to prepare the next generation of scholars for major responsibilities in the further development of the Network. CERLAC and its partners share a profound enthusiasm about jointly realizing the goals of this project, considered by all participants to be the beginning of a longer-term collaborative endeavour on this vital topic.