If there's anything that has become apparent in the past few years, it's that energy has the power to divide. Despite that we all need it, the level of debate about energy sources, how it's priced, how it's delivered to consumers, and its environmental impacts have resulted in polarization.
Through all of the debate, we seem to have forgotten the impact of energy in our lives. We are preoccupied deciding what we're against: oil sands, nuclear power, fracking, and have forgotten about what we're for. We've also been distracted from getting to solutions, which all of us need if we're going to get to a positive energy future.
Energy has driven human advancement since the first meal cooked over a wood fire. Today, energy, in its many forms, powers everything from life-saving medical devices to the Internet. Transportation fuels, like the ones Suncor produces, have connected the world, allowing us to take to the roads, the skies — and even into space.
Since 1990, global demand for energy grew by 45%, the size of the global economy tripled and some 700 million people moved from poverty to the global middle class.
The challenge ahead is even greater: over the next 20 years, global energy demands are expected to grow by more than one-third* to support the evolving aspirations of a global population expected to increase to nine billion.
The reality is that as citizens on this planet, we're going to need all sources of energy to meet that challenge. And we'll have to find ways to responsibly link supply to demand.
It's that sort of forward thinking that I believe will help us overcome tomorrow's challenges.
While Suncor has always been guided by a focus on sustainability, I wanted the company to take a closer look at our mission, vision and values to help drive our efforts.
We've been holding discussions with our employees and other stakeholders — including community leaders, investors and non-government organizations — to better understand Suncor's identity and purpose today, and what we should strive to be.
The result of those conversations is a reinvigorated mission and vision — our platform for moving forward, which begins with the ambitious mission statement: We create energy for a better world.
Supporting that mission is a strategic vision very much in tune with the 'triple bottom line' that guides decision-making at Suncor. Our vision: to be trusted stewards of valuable natural resources and to lead the way to deliver economic prosperity, improved social well-being and a healthy environment for today and tomorrow.
The way we pursue this mission and vision is through our values — the compass that guides us in how we do our work. Our core values include an overriding commitment to safety, respect, raising the bar, honouring commitments and doing the right thing, the right way.
I believe our mission and vision reflects our aspiration. Our more than 14,000 employees — some of the smartest and most dedicated people I've ever worked with — fully recognize we must consistently raise the bar on performance to realize our ambitions.
There will be times we falter. The series of spill incidents Suncor experienced in the spring of 2013 were frankly disappointing and I've challenged our team to learn from these incidents to make sure they don't happen again.
Can we be a leader in generating a prosperous economy and a vibrant society while maintaining a healthy planet for our grandchildren? With a lot of hard work, and with the understanding that we are all part of something much bigger, I believe the answer is yes. And we can do it while working to protect the environment and creating social well-being.
My optimism is grounded in our experience — what we've achieved, the possibilities that can be realized through technology and the fundamental role energy plays in all of our lives.
We believe the responsible development of our core oil sands resource, as well as our conventional oil, natural gas and renewable energy assets, represents a 'net positive' in terms of producing and marketing the energy the world needs to grow and progress.
We are on track to meet or exceed our fresh water use and land reclamation goals. Our energy efficiency and reduced air emissions — targets remain challenging. But we are determined to build on the gains we've made and are already beginning to discuss post-2015 sustainability goals.
Progress on all these fronts — as well as the critical challenge of managing our greenhouse emissions in an era of production growth — is linked to investments in technology, another ongoing Suncor priority.
We believe the best way to operate a profitable business is to, at the same time, advance the well-being of the communities where we live and work. The economic alliances we've formed with Aboriginal businesses and suppliers near our operations are just one example of this kind of 'shared value' in action.
Our aspirations are also evident in Suncor's continued support for the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) and the UNGC's 10 Principles, which guide our approach to human rights, labour, environment and corruption — wherever in the world we operate. Suncor is one of five major companies now leading the effort to establish an UNGC Local Network in Canada to further advance the 10 Principles.
We know we're part of something bigger, and that requires meaningful engagement and collaboration. Canada's Oil Sands Innovation Alliance, established in 2012, marked a milestone, bringing an industry-wide focus to bear on making incremental improvements in environmental performance.
We need to take collaboration to the next level and engage every sector of the economy — and all our citizens — in an informed discussion about the path forward. We are in this together and the decisions we make, as companies and societies, will determine what our shared energy future looks like.
Our sustainability journey is a continuous one of learning, engaging and improving performance. And we know that building on our experience and working with others, we can and are committed to creating energy for a better world.
president and chief executive officer
*Source: International Energy Association, World Energy Outlook