We believe the key to a better future is listening to and understanding the perspectives of others.
This week, we asked Tima Bansal, executive director, Network for Business Sustainability (NBS) and professor at the Richard Ivey School of Business at Western University, about sustainability in corporate Canada. We thank Tima for taking the time to answer our questions.
The views, opinions and positions expressed are those of the author and don't necessarily reflect those of Suncor.
Your organization recently released a report on the top sustainability opportunities for Canadian businesses. What are they?
The top opportunity is collaborating for sustainability. In other words, how do we get competitors to collaborate to address common sustainability issues? In a landscape of competition, our corporations realize that the future is collaboration.
As much as the oil and gas sector is the target of considerable criticism, it is also the hallmark of collaboration. Suncor has led many of these initiatives, including ICO2N, Oil Sands Leadership Initiative, and Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance. It is no wonder that Suncor is represented on NBS's Leadership Council of leading organizations in Canada.
The whole list of challenges is available at:http://nbs.net/knowledge/sustainability-opportunities-for-canadian-business-2015/
How has sustainability in Canada changed in recent years?
There has been quite an evolution of sustainability in Canada. Since NBS started compiling the list of challenges, over the last seven years, corporations shifted from asking "does it pay to be green (or good)?" to "how can we be sustainable." Now, they want to create systems change. The leading corporations know that even if they wanted to do more they can't without customers, investors, and government alongside them.
How does sustainability in Canada compare to other countries?
NBS also has affiliates in Chile and South Africa. Not surprisingly, they too are focused on collaboration. But, the conversations in Canada are different from those in Chile and South Africa.
Canadian corporations are looking to collaborate with competitors. They are hoping that they can change the composition of value chains – changing the way they source, produce, and sell goods and services. The emphasis is on innovation, creating value, and big corporations.
Chilean corporations are less interested in the big, and more in the small. They are interested in collaborating with their local municipality. Most corporations know they have to make money, but they always do it with an eye on the community. And, the B-Corp movement is thriving in Chile – small organizations that can create economic and social value simultaneously.
South African corporations are also community minded, but their focus isn't on the municipality, but on the country. They have a strong national identity. As well, these companies are highly empowered. They believe they need to 'just do it’, but 'do it together' for a stronger, stable, and sustainable country.