Last September, the Centre québécois de développement durable (CQDD) was awarded the Prix de l’impact social 2021 by the magazine L’actualité in the category “Sustainable industry, innovation and infrastructure” for its project PME Durable 02. Initially deployed in 2015, this project leverages innovation to encourage more environmentally responsible business practices among businesses in the region. A proud partner of the project since its inception, Rio Tinto supports this initiative, which aligns with its sustainable development values.
“The idea was to work with regional economic partners to convince companies to embrace sustainability, said Nicolas Gagnon, General Manager at CQDD, and manager of the initiative. “This gave companies the opportunity to remain competitive on this front while becoming more socially responsible. We wanted to support businesses as they took action through information sharing, conferences, training, networking and promotion.”
Supported by 33 regional partners, including Rio Tinto, the project sought to promote the adoption of sustainable business practices among the 9,000 companies in the region. Rio Tinto was the first financial partner to come on board and support this initiative, which full reflects the company’s focus on distinguishing itself in terms of sustainable development. Rio Tinto is, after all, a pioneer in responsible aluminium, in large part thanks to its Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI) certification, the highest internationally recognised standard for environmental practices. In addition, Rio Tinto is focused on continuous improvement through technologies (such as Elysis) aimed at bringing to zero carbon emissions from aluminium production and reclaiming by-products.
Catherine Munger, General Manager, Environment and Sustainability at Rio Tinto, said, “Rio Tinto is very proud of having been associated with this project since its inception, six years ago. We have long endorsed sustainable development, and this is reflected in our actions and partnerships, including our partnership with the CQDD.”
The CQDD reached out to entrepreneurs through various strategies such as 153 articles on business opportunities, benefits and environmental best practices; over 40 information sessions organised with economic partners in the region; 30 training sessions; and 14 informational video clips. Through these different initiatives, the CQDD was able to reach out to 2,300 people to participate in the events of PME Durable 02. And now an additional 115 businesses are engaged in a strategy of sustainable development.
According to Gagnon, the project draws its strength from the large network of participants, whose common objective is being more socially responsible while meeting new market and societal expectations.
He said, “This award recognises all the work we did with our partners, who use their expertise and networks to reach entrepreneurs. This recognition certainly encourages us to continue our efforts to help SMEs in the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region integrate sustainable development into their business practices and make this a hallmark of the region, just like ecotourism, northern agriculture, blueberries and aluminium.”
The engagement this project has generated shows just how committed everyone, including Rio Tinto, is to sustainable development.