From Challenges to Opportunities


Canadian businesses play a critical role in building resilient economies and communities. This report highlights opportunities for business to take decisive action towards positive change.

The transition from a focus on challenges to a focus on opportunities will help unlock new ideas and energy across the private and public sectors. We invite you to act on this report by using it as a conversation starter in your organizations.

Top 7 Sustainability Opportunities in 2015

  1. Collaborating for sustainability (See resulting Guide for Managers and Assessment Tool)
  2. Addressing climate change
  3. Building stakeholder trust
  4. Designing effective sustainability communications
  5. Turning sustainability into strategic priority
  6. Transitioning to green products and services
  7. Respecting free, prior and informed consent

The two topics motivating NBS work this year are collaborating with industry peers and communicating for sustainability.

Collaboration with Industry Peers

“We have to give up some of our traditional, 19th century ways of thinking about business,” explains John Coyne, VP Legal & External Affairs and General Counsel at Unilever Canada Inc.

Sustainability issues are bigger than one organization. Determining the right scale, composition, and process for collaboration may require experimentation. There are questions such as: should collaboration happen virtually or face-to-face? Should leadership be shared or held by one firm or stakeholder? Who should contribute which and how many resources? Answers to these questions can yield new models of collaboration like common product certification systems.

Communicating Sustainability

Each year, Canadian businesses spend significant resources communicating their sustainability initiatives. With the proliferation of sustainability rankings and reporting standards, it has become harder to assess the business value of these endeavours.

A renewed vision of the structure, medium, audience, and goals of sustainability reporting and communications is needed to reduce the inefficiencies in the process. “If the communication is going to hit its mark, one size can’t fit all," notes Karen Clarke-Whistler, Chief Environment Officer, TD Bank Group.

Positive Paradigm Shift

We hope this report prompts the business community to shift its thinking from seeing sustainability as challenges, problems, and barriers to a new paradigm that inspires change and exposes new opportunities in the Canadian business context.

To access NBS challenges and opportunities reports published over the years, view the knowledge priorities.

Since publication of this article, NBS released research on competitor collaboration, including a manager's guide and assessment tool

Recommended citation for this report:

Good, J., & Sharma, G. (2015). From challenges to opportunities: The 7 sustainability opportunities for Canadian businesses in 2015. Network for Business Sustainability. Retrieved from