Commentary: Canada helps developing countries with responsible resource extraction – by Julian Fantino (Northern Miner – June 5, 2013)

The Northern Miner, first published in 1915, during the Cobalt Silver Rush, is considered Canada’s leading authority on the mining industry.

Julian Fantino is Canada’s minister of international cooperation.

Today, Canada’s private-sector investments account for almost half of global mining activities in developing countries, and represent about 12% of Canada’s foreign direct investment. As an extractives industry success story, Canada is well- positioned to help developing countries overcome their challenges and implement their own respective vision in this rapidly expanding sector.

The extractive sector — mining, oil and gas — is a key contributor to Canada’s economic growth. It has created thousands of jobs at home and abroad. Revenues from the sector have allowed Canadians to invest in social services for our communities, build highways, railways, and electrical and communications networks across the country, as well as invest in clean-energy technologies.

In part, this success is because of Canada’s long history in effectively managing renewable and non-renewable natural resources. This experience has enabled Canada to develop world-class expertise in ensuring that mining generates the maximum benefits for broader social and economic development, while respecting the natural environment.

The extractive sector is an increasingly important driver of economic growth for many developing countries. For example, exports of oil and minerals from Africa, Asia, and Central and South America in 2011 were worth more than $1.4 trillion. This translated into jobs and improved livelihoods for millions of people. It also dwarfed that year’s development assistance to the developing world by a factor of ten.

Over the past year, the Canadian government has enhanced its approach to working with resource-rich developing countries to build resource governance capacity in order to maximize the contribution of the extractive sector to economic and social development goals. Through our international development assistance, Canada is helping developing countries manage their extractive industries effectively, transparently and responsibly.

In October 2011, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the Canadian International Institute for Extractive Industries and Development (CIIEID), which will leverage Canadian and international expertise to help resource-rich developing countries improve their capacity to implement responsible policies and regulations.

The Institute will be housed at the University of British Columbia, working in collaboration with Simon Fraser University and École Polytechnique de Montréal. The Institute will act as a world-renowned, independent centre of expertise that will help developing country governments reap the benefits of their natural resources.

Canada’s commitment to helping developing countries responsibly develop their natural resources was highlighted during Prime Minister Harper’s recent visit to Peru. The Americas is a key region and partner for Canada’s development assistance programs. In Peru, extractive industries are playing a significant role. New support announced in Peru by the prime minister will help strengthen environmental impact assessments, improve the management of natural resources at the regional level, and diversify economic opportunities in extractive regions. Moreover, Canada will help agriculture and forestry cooperatives in the mining communities of La Libertad, Ancash and Cajamarca become more self-sufficient and sustainable, by using better farming techniques. People who live on more than 3,000 family farms that belong to 30 cooperatives will benefit. It is for the benefit of these people, and others most in need around the world, that Canada lends its expertise and support.

Canada wants to help its developing-country partners create the conditions to move women and men out of poverty on a path towards prosperity. Canada will continue to work alongside constructive industry, civil society and public sector partners to leverage natural resource wealth for economic and social development.

Our aim is to assist developing countries to build up their institutions, laws and regulations that govern the sector. This will help enable governments to effectively regulate and oversee their natural resource sectors, and the wealth it can create, for the betterment of their people for generations to come.

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