ESG and Corporate Purpose in the Canadian Energy Sector


Even before the world was disrupted by COVID-19 and current events began calling for a greater focus on social justice, the corporate world was already at an inflection point with respect to its role in society, facing louder and more widespread calls for businesses to consider a broader range of stakeholders.

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics have now become leading guideposts for identifying performance across both the financial world and among the public at large. How should Canada’s energy sector respond?  Is ESG just the latest buzzword, replacing “triple bottom line” and CSR? How does ESG fit with corporate purpose and performance? How can Canadian energy companies use ESG to embed longevity and resilience into rapidly changing industries and business models?

The objective of this study will be to contribute our assessment and analysis to inform readers of the latest developments in three areas:

  1. The evolving role of and approaches to ESG
  2. An overview of ESG / sustainability reporting across the Canadian energy sector
  3. Risk-mitigating strategies for the Canadian energy sector


The project will be carried out as a collaboration between CECN and the Canada West Foundation. It will employ a combination of methods that include literature review, primary data gathering and extraction, and interviews with key informed sources.

Results will be disseminated by both CECN and the Canada West Foundation via our extensive networks, which collectively reach several tens of thousands of people across industry, academia, media, government, NGOs and other audiences. In addition to producing a report, we will hold one or more events (webinars or roundtables) to stimulate discussion about the findings.

Canada West Foundation Project Leads:

Dinara Millington, MA (Economics)

Dinara Millington is a passionate and experienced economist, author and researcher. As the former Vice President of Research of the Canadian Energy Research Institute, Dinara brings over 15 years of working experience in economic and environmental research and analysis. Her advanced knowledge of the Canadian energy industry and regulatory landscape, broad knowledge of international energy markets along with her technical and leadership skills have contributed to Dinara’s many successes.

Dinara led research programs and projects in cross-functional teams to drive the implementation and execution of work. Her mentorship and leadership provided a vision to research staff to achieve high, evidence-based standards of research and analysis. Her strong and effective communication skills and ability to work with a wide range of internal and external stakeholders are evidenced through the publication and execution of numerous research reports and papers and appearances in articles and televised interviews with local, national, and international media as a subject matter expert.

Dinara is also a strong believer in community engagement. Through her volunteer work, Dinara helps new Canadian immigrants with integration to Canadian culture, interview and resume writing skills, networking and understanding Canadian work culture. She also acts as an industry supervisor with the Sustainable Energy Development (SEDV) Master’s degree program at the University of Calgary. Find her on LinkedIn:

Marla Orenstein

Marla Orenstein is the Director of the Natural Resources Centre at the Canada West Foundation, the CECN’s partner on this project. The Canada West Foundation is an independent, non-partisan public policy think tank that provides practical solutions to tough public policy challenges facing the West, and Canada as a whole, at home and on the global stage.

Over the last 15 years, Marla has worked closely with industry and communities on the impacts of energy and resource development projects including electricity, mining, solar, wind, hydro, and oil & gas. Marla’s work focuses on Canada’s energy future and how Canadian business can prosper as the world transitions to cleaner forms of energy.

Marla is also a subject matter expert in impact assessment and brings a comprehensive understanding of current standards and best practices including guidelines on impact assessment established by regulatory agencies, multilateral finance institutions, international agencies and industry organizations. She is also both past President and President-Elect of the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA).

Find Marla on LinkedIn at