My name is Steven Chang, I will be completing my 4th year IDS co-op placement in Accra, Ghana with the World University Services of Canada (WUSC). Specifically, I will be working on the West African Governance and Economic Sustainability in Extractive Areas (WAGES) program as a ‘Green Economy Advisor from July, 2017 to July, 2018.
WAGES operates in three countries, Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Guinea and seeks to advance socio-economic benefits to women and youth; spread and encourage sustainable and inclusive economic growth in extractive areas; and increase the capacity of subnational governments to leverage new economic opportunities resulting from natural resource development. Succinctly stated, the three pillars of WAGES are to improve sustainable economic growth, regional knowledge sharing, and improving local governance.
More specific to my role within the WAGES program, I have been tasked with assisting in the development of a Baseline Business Survey that will serve as the basis for later entrepreneurial training. Other components of my work may include capacity assessments of local governments, assisting in training local District Assemblies and supporting implementation of sub-national Medium Term Development Plans (MTDPs), developing transparency initiatives within the Ghanaian Extractive Industry Sectors, and developing training tool kits for Mining and Law.
Above all else, I expect that this will be a meaningful opportunity to grow professionally and a uniquely challenging opportunity to advance my own research interests in the Extractive Sector. The specifics of my research are still unclear. Though, my background in mercury (Hg) in the environment and artisanal gold mining provide a solid foundation on which to discover new and challenging research topics. Ideally, I would like to investigate recent developments in social performance as it pertains to large-scale mining corporation in West Africa. Additionally, mercury economies and the persistent usage of toxic reagents in the artisanal mining process could be an interesting avenue to explore.
I have no doubt that my time in Ghana will yield many things for me to learn, reflect on, and grow from, both professionally and personally. I am grateful to WUSC for generously supporting me through the application process, and for allowing me to take part in the WAGES program. I would also like to express my gratitude to the Filosa Family Scholarship for their provision of financial aid during my time in West Africa. Finally, thank you to my family and friends who have shown a tremendous amount of interest and support for this coming chapter in my life.