Sustainability

The Conference Board of Canada advances our understanding of how to achieve sustainable economic growth. Our work examines how changes in our energy systems, built environment, mobility, and government policies can allow Canada to achieve its economic, quality of life, and environmental objectives.

Transmissions tower; person with surfboard running into ocean

Recent releases

Man biking down road with large backpack
Delivery Notice: Sustainable Urban Freight Solutions for the Last Mile

E-commerce growth is being fuelled by retail innovation and shifting consumer behaviour. Consumers and businesses are increasingly comfortable with digital purchasing and attracted to the convenience and choice provided by digital shopping environments. Retailers are improving the quality of the online storefront experience and increasing the efficiency of logistics operations.

Issue briefing  |  14-min read
April 28, 2022

Strong Engagement, Strong Outcomes: An Engagement Indicators Playbook

Meaningful, open, and transparent community engagement is a core aspect of Canada’s federal impact assessment process. Decisions about major natural resource or infrastructure projects can affect the daily lives of people in local communities. Meaningful community engagement allows those who are most affected by a project to participate in the decisions that directly impact them.

Impact paper  |  11-min read
March 24, 2022

Empowering Communities to Monitor Major Projects in Impact Assessments

Playbooks are useful interactive tools. They help in choosing and prioritizing impacts and engagement activities to monitor. Our research shows that using indicators is a useful method for guiding engagement processes.

Online experience  |  8-min read
March 24, 2022

An Engaging Solution: Bridging Communities and Major Projects in Impact Assessments

Engagement is one of those words that’s taken for granted. But for impact assessment associated with major economic development projects, community engagement describes a continuous practice. Strong community engagement recognizes that those affected by major projects should be involved in the decisions that affect them and in the development of the engagement process itself.

Issue briefing  |  12-min read
February 28, 2022

Wellbeing by Design: Lessons from the Pandemic on Canadian Communities and the Built Environment

Changing our built environment has tremendous potential to help Canadians live healthier lives. Throughout the pandemic of 2020–2022 we are learning lessons that can advance the thought process. But reflection is key to this advancement. Through a series of interviews and assessment, this report gathers new insights that inform: how the design of the built environment can contribute to community wellbeing and the research and editing of the Community Wellbeing Framework, version 2.

Impact paper  |  22-min read
February 8, 2022

Patient Capital: Financing Small Modular Nuclear Reactors to Commercialization

Nuclear energy is key to Canada’s net-zero climate objectives. It is driving interest in innovative small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) technologies. To build a net-zero energy system by 2050, the International Energy Agency projects that an average of 15 GWe (Gigawatt electrical) of new nuclear energy capacity needs to be developed each year until 2040. Without investment in new nuclear power plants, reaching global climate objectives will be more difficult and more expensive.

Impact paper  |  18-min read
January 25, 2022

Truck driving down the road
Fuelling 2050: the Road Forward

In the past 10 years, many pathways have been developed to show how Canada can transition to net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. Evaluating the best inputs and forecasts from this library of options through a lens of achievability rather than an aspirational one is a challenge. Aspiration is important, but with 29 years left to 2050, Canada’s energy system requires a “most likely outcome” for policy and practical guidance.

Impact paper  |  46-min read
January 13, 2022

Man looking at computer on construction site
Beyond Exclusions: Sustainable Finance for Nuclear Energy

To reach net zero by 2050, Canada must accelerate the financing and deployment of innovative zero-emissions technologies. Increasingly, sustainable finance considerations underpin the allocation of capital to these technologies. Canada, like several other advanced economies, considers nuclear energy a necessary part of its net-zero transition.

Impact paper  |  20-min read
January 12, 2022

Woman typing on laptop
Bagging Capital: Attracting Private Investments in Canada’s Plastic Recycling Industry

From enabling food security and trade, to mitigating climate change and delivering health care, plastics are the materials of convenience, efficiency, and modernity. But Canada’s linear plastics economy is unsustainable. We can do better. Canada needs a circular plastics economy. This regenerative economy harnesses natural resources sustainably and eliminates waste by design.

Impact paper  |  29-min read
January 11, 2022

Beautiful ocean view with trees
Backing Nature: Mobilizing Private Investment for Nature-based Climate Solutions

Nature-based climate solutions (NBCS) can help Canada achieve its net-zero goals. Our wealth of natural assets means we could be a leader in this area, but we need to quickly expand the number of sustainable nature-based projects. How do we do that? New research shows that the conservation, restoration, and sustainable use of land has the potential to deliver up to one-third of Canada’s global GHG reduction targets by 2030.

Issue briefing  |  14-min read
December 14, 2021

Supply Trains: Security and Resilience in Canada’s Propane Market

Canada’s propane supply chain is in good health. Production is up, exports are growing, and investment remains strong. But the supply chain is changing. Not only are new market dynamics poised to create impacts, but disruptions like blockades, strikes, and the increasing use of rail also loom large.

Issue briefing | 4-min read
October 7, 2021

Waste-management firms have a plastics problem

We lead the world in the generation of solid waste per capita. Plastic waste pollution is one of the seminal environmental issues of our time. On this front, our performance has been poor. Only a quarter of plastic waste is collected, with just nine per cent being recycled. The “take-make-waste” paradigm of our linear plastics economy is unsustainable. A reset is overdue.

Op-ed  |  4-min read
September 27, 2021

Green Homes: Sustainable Finance for Residential Retrofits

Single-attached and detached homes are responsible for approximately 7 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). Reducing this requires new financing tools that make it easier to invest in building improvements. That’s a challenge. Sustainable financial innovation is needed both to mitigate consumer barriers and to connect individual projects to green capital markets.

Issue briefing | 15-min read
August 18, 2021

Banking on a Dual Transition: Sustainable Finance for Petrochemical Plastic Producers

Ninety-nine per cent of plastics are produced from fossil fuels. As Canada and other advanced economies reach for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, the emissions trajectory of petrochemical plastic producers needs a drastic change of course. With rising plastic pollution globally, this must be complemented by a transition to a circular economy. This dual transition will underpin the future of petrochemical plastic producers. These two elements of transition are complementary, yet distinct. The sustainability of plastics in our material world underscores this point.

Impact paper  |  30-min read
August 17, 2021

OECD Nuclear Energy Agency and the International Forum for Nuclear Energy Cooperation: Panel Session

Curious about the value of having nuclear power included in sustainable taxonomies? Our Senior Research Associate, Sustainability, Dr. Babatunde Olateju Ph.D. shared his thoughts at the Globe Capital 2021 conference.

Webinar  |  Starts at 30:42
July 19, 2021

Keep Moving: Sustainable Mobility After the Pandemic

Sustainable mobility is facing some very real challenges from COVID-19. Transit ridership has collapsed. Rising single-occupancy vehicle travel and suburban flight pose genuine threats to the progress many Canadian cities have made. Deep uncertainty remains about the persistence of these behaviours and their implications for urban mobility.

Issue briefing  |  15-min read
June 2, 2021

A Microgrid Playbook

There are over 100 remote communities in Canada with more than 50 permanent residents each. None are connected to our national power grid. Imagine a microgrid system that offsets diesel use for each one. Microgrids are small-scale, self-sufficient energy systems. They can be the key to emissions reductions, resilience, and localized control of services—especially in Northern, Indigenous, and remote communities.

Online experience  |  4-min read
April 26, 2021

Globe Capital 2021: Infrastructure, Innovation, Social Finance Event

Trillions of dollars are on the table. Low-carbon infrastructure is projected to reach $90 trillion by 2030. The current market for clean technologies is valued at $1.15 trillion. ESG investing has expanded into a USD$30 trillion-plus business. GLOBE Capital broke down the barriers to unlocking investment, scaling innovation and driving transactions and deals to accelerate the transformation to a cleaner, more resilient economy.

Webinar  |  4:43
April 13–15, 2021

A New Power Economic Impacts of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors in Electricity Grids

Zero-emissions, non-intermittent, cost-competitive electricity. As Canada electrifies, the potential of small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) to deliver these attributes is gaining steam. Seeking dividends Ontario, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, and Alberta have committed to a memorandum of understanding to develop and deploy SMRs in Canada. While their motivations differ, transitioning their electricity markets toward carbon neutrality is a common theme.

Executive summary  |  4-min read
March 17, 2021

While building back better we need #naturenow

Pre-pandemic, the climate crisis was already critical. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had released its landmark report, the United Nations had declared 2020 a “Nature Super Year,” and a record number of communities across Canada declared climate states of emergencies. COVID-19 may have slowed our pace of life and created a temporary dip in emissions, but our need to address the climate challenge is still very much alive and urgent.

Op-ed  |  4-min read
Roger Francis & Samantha Page—December 10, 2020

The power behind transition: A national energy system strategy

Canada is an energy bank. We need to treat it like one. We require an energy system strategy that would allow Canada to lead (not follow) market opportunities and leverage our capital to transition to a low carbon future. An energy system strategy will allow us to better monitor and achieve our transition.

Op-ed  |  4-min read
Roger Francis—December 7, 2020

The future of sustainable urban environments after COVID-19

The time to support a vision for public transportation is now. The pandemic has highlighted the role of public transit in sustainable urban centres, and two visions of the future are taking shape. In short, a future of automobile-centric sprawl.

Op-ed  |  3-min read
November 27, 2020

Liquefied Natural Gas Development in B.C. and Its Impact on Indigenous Communities

Industrial development drives economic potential for Indigenous people. Realizing that potential requires a long-term commitment by Indigenous leaders, industry, and governments to build prosperity aligned with Indigenous values and community development.

Issue Briefing  |  15-min read
November 9, 2020

Economic impacts of very small nuclear reactors in remote off-grid mining

Cost-competitive and zero-emissions mining is an opportunity for Canada. Very small modular nuclear reactors (vSMRs) offer this potential paradigm shift. Why does this matter? Northern, remote, and off-grid mines are an important part of Canada’s mining future.

Summary for executives  |  4-min read
October 28, 2020

Going nuclear: Zero-emissions mining in a material world

Canada’s energy transition has material issues. The climate change impact of energy materials is prominent among them. Canada’s mining industry can remedy this challenge with the adoption of low-carbon energy sources to power production.

Commentary  |  4-min read
October 14, 2020

Featured researcher

Babatunde Olateju

Principal Research Associate

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