Sustainability Vital to International Exporters

Jan 31, 2024

ESG frameworks were initially established to help guide investment decisions by focusing a critical lens on a company’s environmental, social, and governance strategies.  Increasingly, this lens is shifting to supply chains and international trade.  GHG reduction targets and regulations have forced exporters to focus on products and processes that help reduce emissions and provide suppliers the sustainability narrative they need to satisfy customer demand.

A recent KPMG survey concluded that 73 per cent of CEOs believe major global challenges like climate change are a threat to their business while 69 per cent of SME leaders expect greater scrutiny.  The same survey found that 80 per cent of customers demand that companies should take the lead on global issues.

Saskatchewan, a province located in the Canadian prairies, is tackling this issue at the provincial, industry, and commercial levels.  And for good reason – the province exports 60 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product. Those products include; crop inputs (including 50% of the world’s potash supply), emission free uranium for power production, dryland farm technology, agrifood products and other manufactured goods tied to these industries. It is rich in critical minerals including; helium, lithium, copper and a host of rare earth elements (naturally occurring in areas with uranium). It is all serviced by a highly efficient transportation system enabling it to reach most countries in the world.

In 2022, Saskatchewan exported $53B in products to over 150 countries. Exports grew by 42 per cent. This is in part facilitated by both an export mindset and some effective facilitators in the export development space including Saskatchewan Trade Export Partnership (STEP).

To protect existing markets and enhance exporter’s ability to sell into new markets, STEP introduced programming to assist companies in implementing an ESG strategy along with supporting their presence at international show that promote innovation and sustainability such as COP28 which recently concluded in Dubai, UAE.

Meanwhile the province has launched the “Sustainable Saskatchewan” brand which highlights many of the province’s economic sustainability and environmental stewardship achievements. There are many examples.  For example; when compared to wheat grown in many G7 countries, Saskatchewan has lowest CO2/Kg according to the Global Institute of Food Security – and a growing world population needs this sustainably grown crop.  In 2022, Saskatchewan produced over 14Mt of wheat alone.  The Food and Agriculture Organization claims there are 3.34 million calories in one tonne of wheat and that each human requires 1600-3000 calories a day to sustain life. At 365 days per year, Saskatchewan’s wheat crop has the potential to feed a population of 65 million or roughly 65 times its population. Wheat is just one crop grown and exported.

Saskatchewan is also home to world leading dryland farming technology including zero tillage capable of both moisture conservation and emission reduction but also carbon sequestration as it leaves the soil undisturbed resulting in increased crop production. Dozens of Saskatchewan companies continue to work on breakthroughs in this seeding technique. This technology is being exported through Saskatchewan’s robust ag machinery industry into the US, Asia, Europe, South America, Australia, Africa and Middle East.

On the crop input side, Saskatchewan is home to the largest and most sustainable potash industry in the world – and it’s growing.  BHP confirmed its intent to build the worlds largest zero emission potash mine. You cannot grow a plant without potash. Nutrien is the largest crop input supplier in the world and headquartered in Saskatoon.

This focus on sustainability carries over into energy production.  Saskatchewan exported $1B in uranium in 2023. Just one kilo produces 24 million kilowatt hours of zero emission power capable of producing as much energy as burning 400,000 barrels of oil.

It is possible that your energy, food, and fuel comes from Saskatchewan (Canada).  And it’s our mission to not only be best in the world, but best for the world. World Trade Center Saskatoon is at the heart of it all.