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School of Public Policy delivers first-of-its-kind UCalgary certificate in Mongolia

Leading decision-makers trained in managing resource sector wealth
March 13, 2017

Certificate program graduates and program organizers in Ulaanbaatar. Photos by The School of Public Policy Staff

Bev Dahlby offers expertise during a break-out session during the training program for Mongolian government officials.

Bev Dahlby offers expertise during a break-out session of the training program for Mongolian government officials.

Program participants at School of Public Policy training in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

Program participants at School of Public Policy training in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

Surrounded by the Bogd Khan Mountains in downtown Ulaanbaatar, a team of School of Public Policy experts delivered a week-long training program for Mongolian government officials on best practices in fiscal governance within the extractive sector.

This training program, delivered by The School of Public Policy’s Extractive Resource Governance Program (ERGP), is a first-of-its-kind training program that provides much-needed expertise to developing jurisdictions for not only managing the wealth of the resource sector, but also how to be fiscally responsible with that wealth.

Delivering the program in Mongolia were Bev Dahlby, PhD, scientific director, research director, Distinguished Fellow and program director, tax and economic growth at The School; Jean-Francois Wen, PhD, professor of economics and Research Fellow; and course co-ordinator Niloo Hojjati, research associate, ERGP/Tax and Economic Growth Program. The training was supported in Calgary by Shantel Jordison, manager, ERGP.

Hands-on learning and lively discussion

Each day of the training program encompassed technical presentations by School of Public Policy experts and breakout sessions for analytical financial model exercises, providing the participants with a hands-on learning experience. One participant remarked that the “training program will be critical in developing increased technical capacity within the Mongolian government,” adding that “including key ministries from across the spectrum to take part in this training program will enable officials to speak the ‘same policy language’ when it comes to fiscal policy decision-making processes.”

The training program generated a great deal of lively discussion, with Wen noting, “Our session on petroleum production-sharing contracts led to very interesting comments and reflections on the part of the participants, some of whom had been involved in the design of Mongolia's existing contracts.” Course co-ordinator Niloo Hojjati adds, “There was a tremendous amount of energy in the room; participants were very engaged learners.”

A total of 28 leading decision-makers successfully completed the week-long certificate program. Participants were from several Mongolian government departments and academic institutions, including the Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry, Department of Taxation, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Environment and Green Development, Mineral Resource and Petroleum Authority, University of Finance and Economics, and the National University of Mongolia.    

Fundamental policy challenges similar around the world

“Alberta is a leader in sustainable resource development — the world sees that," says Dahlby. "The School is creating a critical mass of sustainable resource development expertise, and that is in demand internationally.”

“A big part of what we do in the ERGP is bringing practical policy and regulatory solutions to the table to support decision-makers in other jurisdictions facing complex problems in their extractive resource sectors," adds Jordison. "While no two countries are exactly the same, many of the fundamental policy challenges we face here in Canada are similar to those faced by other governments. A really interesting part of the work we do is to engage in a two-way dialogue about what policy solutions are possible: History, culture, politics, and market conditions all matter when you’re finding policy solutions that can be successful over the long term.”

This training program is part of a larger project funded by the Government of Canada and managed by Agriteam, with the aim of strengthening extractive sector management in Mongolia’s mining sector.

“Agriteam is happy to work with the UCalgary School of Public Policy for the implementation of the SESMIM project. The SPP’s unique team of experienced regulators, highly respected economists and public policy experts brings the right combination of theory and practice to our capacity-building program in Mongolia,” says Debra Rasmussen, Canadian project director, Strengthening Extractive Sector Management in Mongolia (SESMIM), Agriteam.

Future deliveries of the ERGP certificate program are planned in Mexico and Mozambique in 2017.