Report on Sustainability 2018

About our report

Updated July 18, 2018

Our sustainability reporting journey goes back two decades, and this 2018 Report on Sustainability continues our approach to transparency. It’s one of the ways we measure progress, and continually monitor and assess the impacts and benefits of our business.


We’ve prepared this report in accordance to 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.

Report format

Available in English or French, this report was prepared 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 available at


Consolidated company-wide economic, environmental, safety and social performance from January 1st to December 31st 2017 is reported for assets we operate only (unless otherwise stated), including five-year data trends where possible.

Facility or business segment performance, where applicable, is available for download. Joint ventures not operated by Suncor are excluded, unless otherwise stated. Information regarding events or performance in early 2018 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 2017 Annual Report.


Assuring accuracy

We engaged Ernst & Young LLP to provide review-level assurance on selected performance indicators for the year ended December 31, 2017 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 stakeholders. 

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

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. The following process was used:

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 in-person workshops were facilitated to capture diverse perspectives, including:

  • external stakeholders (academia, community members, business partner, investor and NGO perspectives represented)
  • internal subject matter experts and cross-functional employee leaders

Criteria for both workshops were used to prioritize topics and ultimately determine report content and direction.

Suncor materiality matrix

Suncor's infographic displaying materiality assessment outcome displaying evaluation of Suncor's priority topics for our Report on Sustainability

Stakeholder interest

  • Direct questions from stakeholders (customers, investors, communities, etc.
  • Social trends
  • Extent of media coverage
  • Public policy discussions

Impact on business success

  • Financial implications
  • Legal and regulatory implications
  • Reputation
  • Effect on operational performance
  • Opportunities to boost competitive advantage

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 1-3 years. Results of these two workshops were consolidated and shared with workshop participants.


Our assessment process identified 4 material priority topics that consistently ranked high priority in both workshops and have informed the focus of our Report on Sustainability:

Why is this important?

The trust and support of stakeholders and Aboriginal communities are very important to Suncor and foundational to successful energy development.

What's Suncor doing in this area?

  • By the end of 2017, close to 5,000 employees had completed Aboriginal awareness web-based training
  • $521 million spent with Aboriginal suppliers across Canada in 2017

Why is this important?

In today’s polarized world, constructive and solutions-focused conversations about climate change and our shared energy future are more essential than ever.

What's Suncor doing in this area?

  • We develop a Carbon Price Outlook annually, and since 2016, carbon risk has been considered one of our principle risks and undergoes an annual Board review
  • We invested approximately $350 million in 2017 in development and deployment of new technologies

Why is this important?

Suncor is committed to incident prevention and learning and continues to raise the bar to improve process safety and reliability performance.

What's Suncor doing in this area?

  • We continued to reduce lost time injuries and recordable injury frequencies company-wide in 2017
  • We improved reliability in our Refining and Marketing business segment in 2017

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.

What's Suncor doing in this area?

  • Continued investment in research and development of water technologies, including academic research and piloting projects on our sites
  • We’re working towards setting a new long-term water goal to extend our commitment to water conservation

Aboriginal Peoples and communities and our stakeholders consider these critically important and, in order 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 profitable 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 help to support business continuity, maximize 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
  • diversity and inclusion
  • 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 could 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:

  • water stewardship
  • tailings management
  • land use and biodiversity
  • reclamation
  • 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 Aboriginal relations
Sustainability goals