IRIS researches state-of-the-art innovative management practices and their impacts on societal issues, both environmental and social, and the role that those practices may play in moving industry towards a more sustainable posture.
The mission of IRIS is to create and disseminate leading-edge sustainability research through publications, teaching and various forms of outreach to industry and community audiences.
The need for IRIS grew out of several concurrent trends that have changed resource-based industries in recent years:
The success of industry in these endeavours hinges on both technical prowess and skill at managing the environmental and social risks of these 'upstream' activities. Increasingly, companies operating in Canada are developing technical and managerial skills, with skills in managing environmental and social risks being a key success factor. These skills are being exported through international energy plays involving Canadian companies or are being disseminated throughout multinational majors from their Canadian subsidiaries.
Members of IRIS have been engaged in projects with Shell Canada and Suncor Energy in the Alberta Oil Sands and with Suncor Energy in Jordan. They have also been involved with Pacalta and Encana in Ecuador and with the Suncor/Southern Pacific Petroleum Joint Venture in Australia.
The need for sustainable development expertise is not limited to the oil and gas sector. The forestry industry is also facing the multiple pressures of local communities, First Nations, environmentalists, and other stakeholders. Additional pressures in this industry come from global markets - from environmentalists, consumers and major retailers. The mining and tourism industries are similarly facing pressures for sustainable development from various fronts.
The faculty members associated with the Institute are regularly engaged in activities involving public outreach, consultation, and acting in an advisory capacity. Primarily this involves serving as expert-scientific advisors/participants in various regional, national and international forums, and advisory/consultancy work for private and public sector organizations, as well as for non-governmental organizations (NGO's).
In consultation with our key constituents, we have identified three urgent research and knowledge mobilization challenges for resource companies. Our areas of research and outreach focus are: