My Extended Sustainability Co-op at Canfor!
Before starting with Canfor, I pictured a rugged, outdoorsy co-op program, located in some rural town. While this is true for many of my fellow Green Dream Interns, my experience has been unique. My role at Canfor as a sustainability co-op was a hybrid work environment located in Vancouver (my hometown). I was the first full-time member of Canfor’s sustainability team and my eight-month co-op term ended up being extended to over 15 months!
So, what exactly was my role as a sustainability co-op? I worked on a variety of projects (some of which I will detail further in future posts), but my main role was to assist our team in creating our annual sustainability report and greenhouse gas inventory.
I was so excited to be working on Canfor’s greenhouse gas inventory because I studied the climate system extensively in school and I am very passionate about working in decarbonization. I learned that for a company to set targets and successfully decarbonize, it is essential to understand the major sources of emissions within their operations. For many companies this is done by creating a greenhouse gas inventory. Assisting in the process of creating this inventory for two consecutive years, I was amazed by how much the process improved from one year to the next which really inspires me when I think about the future. We’ve made such huge improvements in just one year, so I can’t wait to see the progress we’ve made after 10 years!
Sustainability reporting was new to me, but I learned quickly thanks to the support of my team and the subject matter experts across our business. I learned that being a good corporate citizen requires transparency. Companies have been doing this with financial statements for some time, but ESG (environment, social, governance) reporting is an evolving area. My main focus was supporting the publication of our Sustainability Report and assisting with data collection process. This may sound simple, but there are many considerations. How is the data calculated and is it accurate? Do all business units use the same calculation methods? Is the data aligned with best practice frameworks and will readers of the report find it valuable? These are only a few of many questions that I have learned to consider in what to include in a sustainability report. Through this process, I was met with many colleagues from across the business and helped me learn so much about Canfor and the forest industry overall.
This is only a quick intro to my incredible time at Canfor. I’ve learned so much about how sustainability is activated throughout a business and was able to apply many of the concepts I’m learning in my environmental degree. My experience with Canfor has opened my eyes to all the opportunities within the forest industry. I was shown that my original view of the forest industry was narrow and that it is a dynamic and innovative industry that has opportunities for everyone.