Panel: The Ethics of Mining and Development

A discussion with Bob Fowler, Meg French and Josh Scheinert.
By: /
March 10, 2015
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This month, Canada appointed Jeffrey Davidson, a former Queen’s University faculty member and community relations’ staff for mining giant Rio Tinto, as its new Corporate Social Responsibility counsellor for the extractive industry. The position had been vacant since inaugural counsellor Marketa Evans resigned in 2013.

Davidson’s appointment follows the government’s updated CSR Strategy for the sector, which was launched in late 2014 to ensure “that Canadian companies continue to exhibit the highest standards and best practices while operating abroad.” Trade Minister Ed Fast said at the time such a strategy was important for Canada’s “brand.”

Canada has also recently partnered with the mining sector to deliver aid programs, as Toronto Star reporter Marco Chow Oved explored in a recent three-part series.

Are these initiatives an indication of private sector and government commitment to responsible extraction projects? Or, is CSR increasingly a buzzword used for company branding?

A week following Toronto’s annual mining convention, PDAC, which included several high-level panels on CSR, we bring together experts to discuss the ethics of mining and development — including the international framework that exists, the opportunities and challenges of new, emerging partnerships, and the complexities of mining in communities facing conflict and development needs.

We invite you to join our three panelists — diplomat Bob Fowler, UNICEF’s Meg French and international law expert Josh Scheinert — for a live, online discussion on the ethics of mining and development.

Join us here this Thursday, March 12, at 12 p.m. ET. Send questions and comments in advance or live by citing #CICMining.

During his 38 year Public Service career, Bob Fowler was the Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Ministers Trudeau, Turner and Mulroney, Deputy Minister of National Defence, and Canada’s longest serving Ambassador to the United Nations. He was the Personal Representative for Africa of Prime Ministers Chrétien, Martin and Harper and in 2005 he chaired Prime Minister Martin’s Special Advisory Team on Sudan. Mr. Fowler retired in the fall of 2006, and is a Senior Fellow at the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. In July 2008, the UN Secretary General appointed Mr. Fowler to be his Special Envoy to Niger. Since 2012, he has been a member of Barrick Gold’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Advisory Board.

With over fifteen years experience in international cooperation, Meg French leads UNICEF Canada’s policy advocacy efforts to promote the protection of child rights internationally and leads the organizations’ work with the UNICEF country offices on a wide-range of child-focused development programs.   Meg also heads UNICEF Canada’s communications work and the promotion of the Children’s Rights and Business Principles with Canadian companies particularly the mining sector, and with the Government of Canada. Meg has a Bachelor of Arts in international development and women’s studies from Trent University and a Bachelor of Education and Masters of Education from the University of Toronto.

Josh Scheinert is a lawyer with a specialization in international human rights and their interaction with investment and trade. He practiced investment and trade law in Toronto and appeared before international arbitration tribunals on investor-state disputes. He has also been a visiting professor of law at the University of The Gambia in West Africa and O.P. Jindal Global University in India, where he taught a number of courses and seminars in the field of human rights. His publications, on new perspectives towards human rights abuses, have appeared in the journals International Criminal Law Review and Law & Sexuality. He holds a B.A. from McGill University, a J.D. from Osgoode Hall Law School, and an LL.M. from the University of Cambridge.