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2009 Canadian Business Sustainability Priorities

This marks the second installment of the Challenges report. Our stakeholders identified nine sustainability issues, which we present here.

Expanding the Business Case

This year marks the second installment of the Challenges report. Nine issues were identified by our Leadership Council: a council of managers from leading organizations across major sectors of the economy.

The purpose of this report is to inspire new research in these issues. Armed with this knowledge, researchers, managers and others can collaborate to innovate new solutions.

The 2009 challenges begin to parse out the business case for sustainability along the lines of risk management, supply chain, and consumers.

Top 9 Sustainability Challenges in 2009

  1. How do businesses incorporate adaptation to climate change into their business strategies? See resulting Executive Report.

  2. Do consumers consider social or environmental attributes when making purchase decisions? See resulting Systematic Review and Executive Report.

  3. How can we engage firms in our supply chain to improve sustainability? See the resulting Systematic Review and Executive Report.

  4. What sustainability issues most affect a firm’s license to operate?

  5. What mechanisms best enable government to regulate risk?

  6. How can we engage capital markets to value sustainability and its risks?

  7. How can we attract and retain employees through sustainability?

  8. How can we communicate our sustainability initiatives without risking negative media attention?

  9. How can we assess the impact of sustainability regulations on Canadian productivity and competitiveness?

Addressing Challenges through Research

Every year, NBS funds research on priorities identified by the Leadership Council. Each project systematically reviews and synthesizes the rigorous information from academic and practitioner sources on a given topic, with an emphasis on completeness, replicability, and transparency.

In 2009, the priority projects covered climate change, consumer choice, and supply chain.

Adaptation to Climate Change

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has shown that Earth’s climate has begun to change as a result of human activity. This phenomenon brings potential risks and opportunities for firms. Those that have adapted their business models will be best positioned to harvest the opportunities and mitigate the risks of climate change.

NBS commissioned a year-long research project in response to this challenge. Read the resulting Executive Report.

Socially Conscious Consumerism

Countless surveys have shown that consumers claim to take social and environmental attributes into account when making purchase decisions. However, it is not clear whether they are willing to act accordingly—particularly if a trade-off is required. And, much will depend on the specific industry, cultural, and purchase contexts.

NBS commissioned a year-long research project in response to this challenge. Read the resulting Executive Report.

Supply Chain

Many managers have acknowledged that they are accountable for the business practices of their suppliers. But it is not well understood how they can engage the organizations across the entire supply chain to improve their sustainability performance. If existing knowledge on sustainability were transferred to all firms in a supply chain, the benefits in business performance would accrue throughout and between industries and between both goods and services.


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

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  • NBS

    The Network for Business Sustainability (NBS) is a non-profit advancing sustainable development to build a fairer and more environmentally sound future. We aim to improve business practice by facilitating knowledge sharing across an international community of business leaders, scholars, students and policy makers. With these stakeholders, we co-create high-quality content that enables practical action. Our content focuses on 6 critical sustainability themes, from climate change to social justice.

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