Sustainability Reporting in Arctic Businesses – Does anybody care about business practices in the far North?

by Adrian Braun

February 2019

Is the Arctic a remote place? Yes and No! To answer this question, the context and the perspective matters! If we try to embrace the complete picture for a second, it is obvious that the answer “No” becomes stronger all the time. In many perspectives the Arctic gets closer to the rest of the world and globalisation is one essential reason, but not the only one in this regard.

By considering the move towards sustainable development in a specific region, the performances of corporate actors to reduce negative ecological and societal impacts is of high relevance. For many decades industrialisation has entered the Arctic and a slow-down is not likely in the near future. Remote or not, the Arctic has attracted plenty of sectors, such as, oil and gas exploitation, mining, forestry, shipping, tourism and more. Multinational corporations are active in the Arctic and long-transport distances do not discourage companies anymore to extent their operations. Gas extraction in the Arctic Ocean, nickel & gold mining in Siberia, forestry in Scandinavia, tourism at the Yukon and much more is happens on an every-day base.

All these aforementioned industries are not only very profitable for the enterprises that run the specific projects, but they are also connected to considerable ecological impacts and effects towards the local societies in the Arctic. Thus it is the responsibility of companies that operate in Arctic or Sub-Arctic latitudes to minimise negative impacts to the greatest possible extent and in order to be transparent to report about their challenges, solutions, achievements and plans towards their path to sustainability and continual improvement.

Despite the idea of remoteness, the Arctic is part of the planet and actually a very important part of the global ecosystem indeed.  Operations in the Arctic, from extractive industries and tourism have no inferior impacts than in other regions in the world and fortunately, the Arctic receives in the past few years more attention in the global society. Hence, if “Arctic companies” publish annual sustainability reports, they have the opportunity to outline the relevance of their business, the societal benefits they create and how they tackle the challenges that they face. Sustainable reporting is an activity that creates benefits as well for the stakeholder community as for the publishing companies themselves.  It is a key element of building mutual trust and encourages other businesses to follow best practices and good examples. Arctic Values supports businesses in the Northern latitudes to strive for the issues in sustainable development that matter and helps to use reporting tools to enhance stakeholder dialogue and build-up fruitful relations. To conclude, the global society cares about what is going on in the Arctic and sustainability reporting is the chance of companies to share their viewpoints and prove good corporate citizenship.


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