Report on Sustainability 2019

About our Report

Our Report on Sustainability reflects our commitment to continually monitor and assess the impacts and benefits of our business, and to effectively share these efforts.


We’ve prepared this report in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative Standards: Core option, with additional use of their Oil and Gas Sector Disclosures. We also disclose our United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) Communication on Progress throughout this report. This is part of our support for their 10 principles which guide our approach to sustainability. New in our 2019 report are the inclusion of Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) standards, representing financially material sustainability topics and metrics relevant for our industry.

Report format

Available in English or French, we prepared this report to engage a wider audience interested in our sustainability priorities and performance through the use of multiple formats – a downloadable PDF, complemented by an online version.


Consolidated company-wide economic, environmental, safety and social performance from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018 is reported only for assets we operate (unless otherwise stated), including five-year data trends where possible.

Facility or business segment performance, where applicable, is available for download. Information regarding events or performance in early 2019 may also be included, where possible.

In certain cases, economic and operational data is aligned in a consistent manner with our annual financial reports (which may include non-operated assets). Our financial performance and description of our business is also presented thoroughly in our 2018 Annual Report.

Assuring accuracy

We engaged Ernst & Young LLP to provide review-level assurance on selected performance indicators for the year ended Dec. 31, 2018 using the GRI Standards and sector disclosures.

Materiality assessment for determining report content

An important step in preparing our Report on Sustainability is to review the most relevant sustainability priorities for our business and our stakeholders.

We review priorities for our report annually and, in early 2018, we conducted a materiality assessment to ensure we accurately considered a broad range of perspectives.

We reviewed and used the results from this assessment for our 2019 report, and plan to conduct another materiality evaluation later this year in support of our 2020 report.

Materiality, in the sustainability context used for this report, refers to the relative significance of environmental, social, governance and economic priorities and their impacts (both positive and negative) to both our business, and to our stakeholders.

Materiality assessment process

In early 2018, we were supported by a third-party, with expertise in sustainability reporting and facilitating materiality assessments, to evaluate our priority topics for our Report on Sustainability. We used the following process:

Identify sustainability topics

An initial list of topics was compiled using several frameworks and methods to better understand areas of importance to our stakeholders and to our business, including:

  • Global Reporting Initiative Standards (Materiality Principle and Principles for Defining Report Content)
  • Sustainability Accounting Standards Board
  • recent Suncor materiality assessments and results
  • industry benchmarking and research
  • topics identified through our internal strategic issues management process
  • ongoing stakeholder engagement and dialogue

This resulted in more than 30 consolidated sustainability topics, which were then ranked and prioritized by groups of stakeholders and internal subject matter experts.

Rank and prioritize issues

Two workshops were facilitated to capture a wide range of perspectives, including:

  • external stakeholders (academia, community members, business partners, investors and NGO)
  • internal subject matter experts and cross functional employee leaders

Outputs from both workshops were used to prioritize topics and ultimately determine report content and direction.

Suncor materiality matrix

Suncor's materiality matrix

Hands-on prioritization activities and discussion helped guide participants to consensus on which topics could have a significant impact on Suncor’s business success or that would substantively influence the assessments and decisions of stakeholders over the next one-three years.

Material sustainability priorities

Our assessment process identified four material priority topics that consistently ranked high in both workshops and have informed the focus of our Report on Sustainability:

Indigenous relations

Why is this important?

As a pillar of our social goal, the trust and support of stakeholders and Indigenous communities are foundational to successful energy development.

Examples of our efforts in this area:

  • $703 million spent with 83 Indigenous businesses across Canada in 2018, including 24 new suppliers
  • Our new Downstream Indigenous Business Engagement strategy established in 2018 resulted in a year-over-year doubling of our Indigenous business spend for that business segment
  • In 2018, participation in our Indigenous Student Program grew by 400%, and 40% more employees completed Aboriginal awareness training

Climate change

Why is this important?

Energy is the backbone of the economy and contributes to our well-being. At the same time, the science is clear that the world needs action to reduce carbon emissions and avoid the worst effects of climate change.

Examples of our efforts in this area:

  • Carbon risk is considered one of our principal risks and undergoes an annual board review
  • We invested approximately $635 million in 2018 in technology development, deployment and digital technologies aimed at reducing the carbon intensity of our operations
  • Our GHG goal is driving operational, energy and fuel efficiency improvements, and accelerating new technology development and implementation

Operational safety and reliability

Why is this important?

Suncor is committed to incident prevention and believes that a ‘zero incident’ workplace is achievable. We continue to raise the bar to improve process safety and reliability performance.

Examples of our efforts in this area:

  • We achieved our second best Recordable Injury Frequency performance on record in 2018
  • We’ve improved our focus on the quality of process hazard analyses for assessing process safety risks, including the digitization of information
  • Reliability reduces unplanned downtime, emissions, and air and water pollutants

Water stewardship

Why is this important?

Water is a shared and precious resource. Suncor’s integrated water management approach balances optimizing our water use practices with technological innovation to sustainably manage water.

Examples of our efforts in this area:

  • A new Water Technology Development Centre is now operational for COSIA, allowing new water technologies to be tested to improve the sustainability performance of thermal in situ projects
  • We are working to ensure healthy ecosystems and watersheds and engaging closely with Indigenous communities in projects like Lake Miwasin and mine closure planning
  • Approximately 88% of the water used by our mining and extraction operations in 2018 was recycled tailings water

Indigenous Peoples and communities and our stakeholders consider these priorities critically important and, for our business to be successful, they require innovative, strategic approaches and commitment to operational excellence across all functions of our organization.

Other significant priorities were also identified and our performance or approach to these priorities are listed below and included throughout our report. Topics that were evaluated, but not reported on are managed, tracked internally and monitored in the context of an ever changing external landscape. Our approach to technology and innovation is a key theme of this report and is closely related to many of the priorities identified in our materiality assessment.

Other significant priorities

Our business

We aim to deliver competitive and sustainable returns to our shareholders by focusing on capital discipline, operational excellence and long-term cash-flow growth. We are also committed to our value of safety above all else. If managed poorly, these priorities could result in unplanned legal, financial, operational or reputational impacts as well as process and personal safety incidents. Managed well, they support business continuity, increased shareholder value, improved productivity and a strong and thriving work culture. These priorities include:

  • governance and ethics
  • health and wellness
  • compliance
  • economic impact
  • public policy
  • inclusion and diversity
  • market access


Our environmental performance represents a key strategic risk and opportunity. The management of these issues is subject to strict scrutiny from both government regulators and stakeholders. Poor management of these issues will result in regulatory fines, stakeholder concern, capital divestment and project costs and delays. Managed well, these issues contribute to a case for innovation, new technology and collaboration with our stakeholders and industry peers to create more value and improved environmental performance. These priorities include:

  • tailings management
  • land use and reclamation
  • biodiversity
  • air quality
  • cumulative impacts
  • spills

Social responsibility

Continuously earning and maintaining trust with our nearby communities is crucial to our business. If not managed well, these priorities could potentially result in increased project delays and costs, legal proceedings, stakeholder opposition and an erosion of community resilience. Managed well, they present a vital shared value opportunity to build relationships and provide economic and social benefit. These priorities include:

  • community investment and social innovation
  • stakeholder engagement
On this page
On this page
Recommended readings
Climate change
Stakeholder and Indigenous relations
Sustainability goals