Six Years in the Making: Knowledge Hubs for Better Extractive Sector Governance

Since 2008, the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) has partnered with academic institutions around the world to provide regionally relevant analysis and training to oversight actors (including members of civil society organizations (CSOs), the media, and parliaments), and to reduce capacity asymmetries between governments and extractive industry players.

These “knowledge hubs” are units within partner academic institutions, the staff of which can mobilize regional networks of experts to build local capacity. We have chosen to partner with academic institutions (and in one instance, a policy institute) for their teaching competencies, their evidence-based approach and longevity. Selected partners also come equipped with experts from their own faculty and are keen to undertake research and analysis that can be applied to resolve their regions’ most pressing policy concerns.

A recent internal evaluation of the work of the four oldest hubs—those launched before 2013—confirms that hub services, notably training, are highly relevant to regional contexts and stakeholders. In surveys conducted in 2013, 86 percent of alumni stated that hub training had improved the way they performed their job; 80 percent reported a positive impact on their role in promoting extractive industry governance at the country level. The video that follows provides stories from some alumni who have benefited from hub support over the years.

The evaluation found that hubs have been successful at mobilizing and building the training capacity of a growing pool of regional experts, which decreases reliance on foreign experts for the provision of quality training and technical assistance.

Evaluators also noted that hub courses have been instrumental in building greater trust and collaboration between stakeholders, and they suggested involving more government and private sector players. Early on, as we considered academic institutions in developing the hubs, we hoped that their neutral profile would make them ideal conveners of diverse and often diametrically opposed stakeholders and catalysts of dialogue and joint action. That has largely been the case.

One of our original intentions was that the hubs would produce regionally specific research and analysis. The Latin America hub, based at the Department of Social Sciences of the Catholic University of Peru, has excelled at this, having developed interesting regional comparative research to inform its courses and curricula. More recently, NRGI has co-authored papers with faculty at our hub host in the Asia Pacific region, Universitas Gadjah Mada in Indonesia, contributing to national dialogue about the future of extractives governance under the country’s new government. These efforts provide a good base on which to build and set positive examples for other hub-hosting institutions.

It is with these lessons and priorities in mind that NRGI and our partners have developed a new strategic approach for the hubs. Some key tenets, which will be adapted for each region and underpin our work for the coming years, include the following:

  • A greater focus on our multi-stakeholder approach and, where there is demand and where asymmetries of information do not preclude, a “country team” approach to bring a critical mass of multiple actors from a country to collectively identify priorities and strategies for reform.

  • A comprehensive approach covering the resource extraction decision chain, with partners bringing in complementary expertise to bring the natural resource governance debate out of the cloisters it usually inhabits and embed it in wider reform processes or in the work of other social movements (e.g., budget movements, human rights movements).

  • Greater research and analysis produced by the hubs to advance the evidence base and cross-comparative analysis in the field, with a focus on policy issues of regional relevance.

We are also working to develop our partners’ networks with other organizations and donors active on extractive sector governance, to allow others to leverage the hubs’ growing expertise and services for the benefit of the wider natural resource movement.

If you want to learn more about the hubs and the excellent work they do, and explore opportunities to work with them, please write to training@resourcegovernance.org and we can connect you with our partners.

Also have a look at the videos we’ve created about the hubs at the Khazar University in Baku, the Catholic University of Peru, and the Catholic University of Central Africa in Yaoundé. We hope you enjoy them.

Matteo Pellegrini is NRGI’s head of capacity development.