Skip to content Skip to footer

Loading Results

The reality and rewards of sustainability

Canadian CEOs recognize the benefits of adopting robust environmental and sustainability practices and see the upside of climate change initiatives as a differentiating capability. But while many CEOs challenge the idea that climate change initiatives provide opportunities for new products and services, it’s time to look at where other CEOs are finding success.


42% of Canadian CEOs

say they’re extremely concerned about over-regulation as a threat to their growth. Of those, 6 out of 10 are focused on the impact of environmental regulation.

62% of Canadian CEOs

say they’re concerned about climate change and environmental damage as threats to their growth.

68% of Canadian CEOs

say their response to climate change initiatives will provide a reputational advantage for their organization among key stakeholders, including employees.

CEOs face climate-induced uncertainty

Sustainability is becoming critical to how a company is judged by its customers, workers, society, investors and the government. As Canadian CEOs navigate climate policy, they’re facing a higher level of uncertainty in how to manage all the moving parts. Over-regulation is still a top concern among Canadian CEOs—and of those who are extremely concerned about it, most are keeping a close eye on how climate and environmental regulations will impact their business and create long-term value.

An opportunity cloaked in crisis

Across the world, CEOs recognize the silver lining in the climate change cloud: new product and service opportunities. Interestingly, some CEOs whose nations were at the forefront of the campaign to combat climate change—including Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia—are slightly less enthusiastic than they were 10 years ago. More than half of Canadian CEOs disagree that climate change initiatives provide significant opportunities for new products and services. But it’s important to note sustainability is also about environmentally sustainable products (e.g. reducing packaging, improving manufacturing processes, etc.). It’s time to look at where other companies are finding success.

ESG at a glance

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices continue to be a priority for organizations. In this year’s survey, we talked with Canadian CEOs about climate change and environmental sustainability, but “ESG” covers so much more. It encompasses social issues like talent management, product safety and cybersecurity and privacy along with governance matters like board diversity and business ethics.

It’s all about employee and consumer preferences

Environmental concerns are becoming a rising focus for consumers and employees, and organizations need to think about tailoring their products and experiences to meet customers’ desire for sustainability. Entering 2020, most Canadian CEOs see the added benefits of responding to climate change (e.g. improving their reputation in the eyes of stakeholders). The workforce is looking for employers that share their values, and sustainable business practices may influence how the organization is perceived by customers and potential new hires.

Industry examples of sustainability in action 


More and more, consumers are seeking products and foods with smaller ecological footprints, including reduced packaging, more sustainable operations and locally produced goods.

Financial sector

Banks and pension funds are well placed to benefit from creating sustainable and eco-friendly investment vehicles to meet the needs of environmentally conscious customers.

Public sector

Cities and governments continue to develop and implement innovative policies and programs to address ESG and inspire citizens to address climate change and other social initiatives.


Oil and gas organizations are investing in companies and technologies that bring renewable, low-carbon energy to consumers and support their environmental and social goals.

The sustainability playbook

Identify and prioritize goals

Identify your issues and goals to determine where the pressures are likely to be and raise awareness of what needs to happen to make your business more sustainable. 

Recognize opportunity

Prioritize these issues from both a sustainability and commercial point of view. This will help you recognize and better manage risk, improve efficiency, revenue potential, growth and other opportunities.

Put sustainability at the heart

Ultimately, organizations that don’t embed environmental and social sustainability into their strategies are missing part of the picture. Embed it in the way you think about, plan and conduct business, including in your culture, values, relationships and employee engagement.

Implement, monitor and measure

Develop and deliver a robust sustainability program that includes prioritized initiatives, enablers, milestones, key performance indicators and measurable targets. Monitor and track progress.


Organizations can work with government, industry, academics and other sectors to accelerate change and avoid duplication. Creating partnerships and alliances with others can amplify and extend your impact.

Read more from the Canadian CEO Survey

Succeeding in uncertainty

Canadian CEOs are feeling more uncertain about global economic growth and are increasingly concerned about the availability of key skills. 

Playbook for upskilling in the modern world

Jobs are changing fast, and our society’s biggest challenge is the future of work and its effect on jobs.

The state of cybersecurity and privacy

Canadian CEOs are seeing a shift in what it takes to protect their organizations.  

Contact us

Nicolas Marcoux

Nicolas Marcoux

Chief Executive Officer, PwC Canada

Tel: +1 514 205 5302

Matthew Wetmore

Matthew Wetmore

National Managing Partner, Clients & Markets, PwC Canada

Tel: +1 403 509 7483

Janice Noronha

Janice Noronha

Partner, Risk Assurance Services, PwC Canada

Tel: +1 514 205 5693