segunda-feira, 14 de março de 2016

Testimonial: Sasha Pastran - Carleton University

CPOPP Blog Post March 7, 2016
Sasha Hanson Pastran, MAPPA
Carleton University – PUC-Rio

My dream to study in Brazil began as soon as I left the country for the first time, after the 2014 World Cup. Along with a passion for ‘futebol,’ I was head over heels in love with this country - the people, the language, the cultures, the politics, the climate, the ‘alegria’, the chaos. I needed to return as soon as I could, even before finishing my Master’s degree, and the easiest way was through a student exchange program between Carleton and the Pontifical Catholic University in Rio de Janeiro.
After almost two years of planning and hard work – as well as a whole lot of support from the SPPA, the ISSO, CCCI, and my graduate supervisors Dr. Alex Mallet and Dr. Maria Angela Campelo de Melo - I have made it back to the “marvelous city” to immerse myself in a society that is completely outside of what I have known. I spent the first two months here in an intensive Portuguese course that gave me the linguistic foundation to take graduate level courses in Portuguese during the semester (which starts in March in Brazil). It has been a steep learning curve but knowing Spanish and French have helped me to get a grasp of the language quickly. I am also excited to play on the PUC-Rio varsity soccer team and to begin my independent major research, which will take me until the end of August.
With the help of a SSHRC Canada graduate scholarship and a MITACS Globalink research award, I have been investigating the impact of government policies and regulations on responsible mining practices and the prevention and resolution of mining conflicts during my Master’s degree. The first phase of my research was an evaluation of the effectiveness of Canada’s corporate social responsibility strategy for the extractive sector abroad, with my analysis published in Carleton Perspectives on Public Policy Journal. Here in Rio, I will examine the management of mining conflicts in Brazil, another country that has a significant impact on the global mining industry. My research will become part of a global research project on mining and forestry policies that Carleton's School of Public Policy and Administration is leading.

My Brazilian research project will focus on the case of the Samarco mine tailing dam break that took place on November 5, 2015, along the Rio Doce river in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. The toxic waste that was released destroyed the village of Bento Rodrigues and the nearby town of Mariana, leaving an estimated 17 people dead and hundreds more homeless and without clean drinking water or a food source. Brazil's environment minister, Izabella Teixeira, has called the accident the country’s “worst-ever environmental disaster” in its history. BHB and Vale, the joint owners of the responsible iron ore mine, reached an R$10bn (US$2.6bn) out-of-court settlement with the Brazilian government for the damage. The settlement is well below the original R$20bn claim by Brazilian authorities and the estimated R$30bn long-term remediation and compensation costs.

The UN Human Rights Commission have attributed the bursting of the dam to a severe failure in the preventive approach by the managing companies, as well as inadequate enforcement of regulation in Brazil's mining sector. More generally, this disaster took place in the context of an economic recession, impeachment proceedings against the President, and corruption scandals involving some of the country’s major mining companies and members of the political establishment as congress proceeds with changes to the county's mining code. Considering this broader context of political and economic turmoil, my research will explore the corporate practices that could strengthen the environmental and social performance of mining companies, as well as the policies and regulations that could strengthen the conflict prevention and resolution mechanisms in the Brazilian Mining Code.
If you are thinking about studying abroad or doing independent research, I am happy to talk more to fellow students about my journey. Studying abroad and conducting independent international research is certainly a challenge that not everyone is able or willing to undertake. But everyday as an international student is filled with thrills, challenges, surprises and lessons that I would not get to experience any other way. I am so grateful for this opportunity and I am loving every moment.

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