Greener Horizons: The Top CSR goals of Vancouver Business Leaders in 2016

Greener Horizons Vancouver

Eager to gather insight into the top CSR trends for 2016 and beyond, Vancouver’s business leaders gathered bright and early at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver to discuss the top CSR goals in their respective industries.

Bullfrog Power brought together a panel of experts to Vancouver’s Hyatt Regency, including Drummond Lawson, Director Advanced Materials Development and Sustainability Strategy, Arc’teryx; Robert Walker, VP Sustainability, NEI Investments; and Jo Coombe, SVP Sales and Marketing, Bullfrog Power. Moderated by Coro Strandberg, ‎Principal at Strandberg Consulting, the conversation was rooted in the understanding that collaboration and leadership are essential for success.

Below is a summary of each panellist’s contributions over the course of an engaging hour-long discussion.

Drummond Lawson, Director Advanced Materials Development and Sustainability Strategy, Arc’teryx

The Arc’teryx team leads their quest for environmental best practice with a guiding mantra: “what do you wanna be when you grow up?” Coming from Method just two and a half years ago, Lawson discussed Arc’teryx’s sustainability strategy in the context of a company expanding its focus from a singular obsession on product performance to looking at its entire supply chain. With the mindset that “transparency is a victory,” some of the key learnings include:

  1. The importance of using common metrics to quantify the sustainability journey. Standards such as the Higg Index create industry benchmarks and identify areas for improvement.
  2. The value of developing best environmental practices locally, which will be addressed partly by the creation of a new and larger Arc’teryx factory in Vancouver.
  3. The need for industry collaboration, especially in the apparel sector, where a common challenge is the opaqueness of the apparel supply chain.
  4. The desire to incorporate sustainability into the blueprint of its products in order to “design out negative impacts.”

 Robert Walker, VP Sustainability, NEI Investments

Robert Walker is a Canadian pioneer in sustainable and responsible investing. Through active dialogue, Walker and his team work with companies to help improve their sustainability practices. After sharing that his company’s passion for carbon management began as early as 2001, Walker stressed NEI’s two primary focuses:

  1. Carbon exposure and assessing risk: NEI works with oil and gas companies to improve disclosure around carbon risk and facilitate carbon scenario planning.
  2. Canada’s boreal forest: NEI has been working closely and quietly with a number of oil and gas companies, mining and forest companies, environmental organizations, and First Nations to preserve Canada’s boreal forest, with a goal to protect 50% of the region.

In addition to discussing NEI’s primary efforts, Walker shared the following insights about ethical investment trends:

  1. The shift to investing in resource optimization markets, notably through the NEI Environmental Leaders Fund, with a focus on long-term sustainable capital growth instead of just climate risk mitigation.
  2. The heightened awareness of the need for sustainable practice since the Paris Agreement in December 2015.

Josephine Coombe, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Bullfrog Power

Josephine Coombe spoke on how climate action has become a default expectation for both the consumer and the employee, such that businesses now must be seen to be taking tangible steps to address their climate impacts. Companies are increasingly looking at their product lifecycles from a broader values-based lens and treating inputs like the energy needed to manufacture as akin to an ingredient. Some of Coombe’s key insights include:

  1. Businesses in Canada have moved beyond short term business case based ROI for sustainability, and are taking a longer term “strategic ROI” view.
  2. What used to be going above and beyond in the realm of environmental best practice is now table stakes.
  3. The value in viewing sustainable practice as a pathway to long-term growth and financial return.
  4. Businesses are taking a more proactive approach to managing their carbon to mitigate risk in an increasingly carbon-aware economy.

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