Meeting Challenges for 10 Years

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This year's report, Business Challenges for Sustainability, provides a synthesis of the top seven sustainability issues facing Canadian business in 2016. It also marks a milestone. It is the report's 10th anniversary, but it will also be NBS's last report of this kind.

“Over the last decade, NBS reviewed and researched 22 challenges,” explains NBS Executive Director Tima Bansal. While the research has been valuable, “it is evident that the same challenges are starting to appear year after year. Traditional academic research is not moving us far enough, fast enough.”

Taking a New Approach to Sustainability

It's now time to reflect: how should we advance business sustainability? 

We need to learn by doing, not just thinking. We expressed this year’s challenges as innovation design challenges—challenges with desired outcomes. In the next years, NBS will form micro-communities of researchers and practitioners to tackle sustainability challenges like those contained in this report. We invite you to use this report as the starting point for dialogue within your own organization, and we hope you will stay with us on this journey.

These challenges were identified by NBS's Leadership Council, representing leading Canadian industry, government, and civil society organizations.

Top 7 Sustainability Challenges in 2016

1. Public Policy & Climate Change

Climate change is the most significant challenge of current and future generations. It affects all aspects of our economy, society, and environment. Canadian firms need to play a greater role in decarbonizing the economy and building resilience to climate impacts...

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2. Collaborating for Sustainability

Most sustainability issues require systemic change, and systemic change requires collaboration among stakeholders. Businesses need to speak with one voice with competitors and affected stakeholders to tackle sustainability challenges...

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3. Respecting Aboriginal Rights

Canadian businesses, NGOs, governments, and society need collaborative processes and institutional structures that ensure that Canada’s Aboriginal communities are proactively, freely, and comprehensively engaged in managing natural resources that impact their lands...

4. Measuring & Reporting Sustainability

Given the proliferation of sustainability rankings and reporting standards, businesses need to know how to streamline reporting to reduce redundancy, resolve inconsistencies, and produce a positive impact...

5. Sustaining Sustainability Programs

Though many people look to the Brundtland report for a definition of sustainability, there is an incomplete, inconsistent understanding of what sustainability means for business. Sustainability needs to be a core part of business activities...

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6. Educating Consumers

Sales of sustainable, socially responsible products and services are not reflective of the efforts invested in their development. Businesses need to better understand how to measure, classify, and market sustainable products and services in a way that avoids greenwashing and instead positively influences consumer behaviour...

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7. Creating a Long-term Orientation

Turbulent financial markets, unstable consumer purchasing patterns, changing trade agreements, and inconsistent public policies make it increasingly difficult to act for the long-term. Businesses need a way to reconcile short-term and long-term perspectives...

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