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Major opportunities and risks

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Major opportunities and risks

As a result of the 2009 merger with Petro-Canada, Suncor has an expanded international presence, including operations in Libya and Syria. In all business decisions, we weigh the potential economic opportunity versus the potential impacts on communities and subsequent risks to the company.


By operating responsibly in high-risk and conflict-affected countries, foreign corporations can contribute to strong economies and communities, which in turn can contribute to peace, stability and respect for human rights.


Foreign companies operating in high-risk and conflict-affected countries are at risk of potential complicity in human rights through the use of public or private security, the use of migrant workers, or inter-tribal conflict inside and outside the workplace.


Suncor has enacted several policies which encompass this area, including:

  • Human Rights policy
  • Improper Payments policy
  • International Security policy
  • Harassment and Violence-free Working Environment policy
  • Stakeholder and Aboriginal Relations policies

Operational responsibility

Suncor’s president and chief executive officer is accountable to the Board of Directors for ensuring this policy is effectively implemented. All Suncor employees engaged in activities under Suncor’s operational control are responsible for the application of this policy.

Key strategies and procedures for implementation

Implementation of the Human Rights policy and framework is underway and includes:

  • Reference to provisions of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights in Suncor's International Corporate Security policy and guidelines
  • Development of guidelines for operating on conflict-affected and high-risk areas
  • Reference to the above in the Stakeholder Engagement Guidelines
  • Integration and expansion on social risk categories in Suncor's Enterprise Risk Management system
  • Monitoring and communicating status updates of relevant social risk issues in Suncor's Issues Management system
  • Comprehensive human rights training for employees, including modules on conflict-sensitive business practices and the voluntary principles for security and human rights
  • Implementation of key elements of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, including risk assessment and mitigation planning
  • Development and corporate-wide rollout of a third-party stakeholder non-judicial grievance mechanism

Major changes to systems or structures to improve performance

  • In 2012, Suncor continued to engage in the United Nations Global Compact Pilot project to assess our performance against the Guidance on Responsible Business in Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas: A Resource for Companies and Investors, which was developed by the United Nations Global Compact Office, the Principles for Responsible Investment initiative and an expert group comprised of company representatives, investors, civil society leaders, United Nations representatives and others.
  • As a result of this pilot project, Suncor has implemented a number of changes to systems and structures to improve performance, most notably the Human Rights policy and framework.

Training and awareness

In 2012/2013, Suncor also conducted a human rights workshop specifically for employees working in its Libya business unit that focused on responsible business practices in high-risk, conflict-sensitive areas, risk assessments, stakeholder engagement, strategic social investment and the voluntary principles on security and human rights. Awareness among Suncor’s employees ensures that we meet the goals of the Human Rights policy. We are committed to training and communicating our approach to human rights as part of the implementation of this policy.

Monitoring and followup

The policy will be reviewed annually and we will provide regular, objective reporting on our progress in our Sustainability Report.

Corporate social responsibility audits will be performed annually in the areas where we operate, where human rights may be at a particular risk due to the external environment.

Goals and performance

Goals and performance measures related to operating responsibly in conflict-affected and high-risk areas have been incorporated into 2012 goals and workplans for Exploration & Production, and Sustainability & Communications.

Key successes and shortcomings

  • The Global Compact Pilot Project assessment identified a number of shortcomings, which are being addressed within a strategic roadmap for 2012 and beyond.
  • The roadmap focuses on Suncor’s policies, guidelines and practices at the corporate level and is based on an initial 2011 desktop gap analysis of Suncor documents against the UN Global Compact’s Guidance on Responsible Business in Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas: A Resource for Companies and Investors.
  • The strategic roadmap was further informed by a human rights workshop conducted in January 2013, which included participants from our operations in Libya.


  • Should human rights issues arise, they are addressed by the senior vice president of human resources in accordance with applicable legislative standards and the principles of the Fundamental Human Rights Conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO).
  • Suncor’s environment, health and safety and supply chain groups are working to develop a comprehensive system for tracking our contracts and the sustainability performance of our suppliers as part of our company-wide integration system. Currently, we do not review the human rights performance of our suppliers.
  • Since 2011, in light of the events of The Arab Spring, Suncor has become even more aware of and committed to the need for a robust human rights framework and the need to systematize the identification, mitigation and management of our social risks through our corporate-wide Operational Excellence Management System (OEMS).