United Nations Sustainable Development Goals provide clues on how to improve Canada's sustainability performance

SDG Sustainable Oil Index: Everyone is concerned about sustainability today. By choosing more carefully how it sources its oil imports, Canada has a big opportunity to enhance its progress.

In September 2015, the 193 member states of the United Nations General Assembly approved 17 sustainable development goals for the World to achieve peace, prosperity, social justice, and environmental protection for all. 

post-image.jpgThe Sustainable Development Goals, otherwise known as the Global Goals, are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

Canada ranks 17th highest among all countries. It scores high for good health and well being, education, affordable and clean energy, innovation, and sustainable cities and communities. The table below shows the top 10 countries that Canada purchased crude oil from in the five years to 2017, ranked from worst to best according to sustainability scores:

Country Score
Nigeria 145
Angola 136
Saudi Arabia 101
Colombia 88
Algeria 64
Russia 62
Azerbaijan 48
United States 42
UK 16
Norway 4


Resource Works independently calculated an SDG Sustainable Oil Index that ranks national scores in terms of crude oil imports into Canada and the United States. Download the data here.

Highlights from our research:

  • 64% of oil from Canada's top 10 source countries outside North America comes from low-ranking countries with SDG scores of 50 or lower.
  • Canada was heavily reliant over the past five years on oil from ultra-low SDG countries including Saudi Arabla (101), Nigeria (145) and Angola (136).

This analysis is relevant for policymakers and consumers in Canada and the United States regarding their selection of suppliers of crude oil during the period of hydrocarbon transition to renewable energy. 

Higher SDG performers should receive a higher priority ranking and therefore preferred access to markets over lower SDG-performing countries.

By this global standard, Canada ranks among the best. Efforts to block or impede the production and marketing of Canadian crude oil have serious implications for global sustainability goals.

By choosing more carefully how its sources its oil imports, Canada has a big opportunity to enhance its progress.

Some of the leadership required for this progress is coming from the bottom up. The City of Fort St John, for example, has recognized the value of SDGs in its strategic plan for 2018-2023. Note how the City has linked its strategic objectives to specific goals (pages 5, 9, 12 etc in the linked PDF.)

Fort St John Mayor Lori Ackerman, a founding member of the Resource Works Advisory Council, commented: "When I spoke in Ottawa a few weeks ago, I pointed out UNSDG #7 to the Department officials. They need to understand that by getting our commodities to market, we can be better global citizens and assist in achieving these goals."

Another thought leader in this space is Wayne Dunn, also a Resource Works advisor. His global practice in corporate social responsibility has embraced the SDG concept, which he discusses in this Slideshare.

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