While documents of this nature tend to be retrospective, this year’s integrated annual report also addresses EDC’s future. This is because 2021 wasn’t just the second year of a pandemic; it was the first year of EDC’s 10-year strategy to make Canada a leader in international trade.
A year ago, in my message for the 2020 Integrated Annual Report, I wrote these words: “While the turbulent year that was 2020 has officially passed, the turbulence hasn’t. The pandemic will again be a story in 2021, but hopefully not the story.”
While we were wishful in our thinking, the year we have just put behind us will almost certainly be defined by the effects—health, social, psychological and economic—of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For many of us, 2021 probably felt more like a continuation of the first 12 months of the pandemic. Or, looked at another way, just a sequel to the year before.
But, despite the sameness of the circumstances, the fundamental truth was that Canada and the world remained, to varying degrees and intensity, in crisis mode for a second consecutive year. Communities continued to be disrupted, supply chains struggled, businesses scrambled, adapted, or didn’t. The year was certainly a test of our collective resilience, which Canadians and our own employees continued to demonstrate time and time again. This is the inspiration for this year’s integrated annual report.
EDC is one of those companies that stepped up, again this past year, to find new ways to respond to the constantly shifting circumstances of the crisis. The difference being that our response had less to do with protecting our own well-being as a commercial Crown corporation, and was more about maintaining our ability to support almost 30,000 Canadian companies last year.
How we responded to these challenges is one story told in this integrated annual report. Throughout the first two years of this pandemic, EDC has proudly played an important role in the Government of Canada’s efforts to meet the crisis head-on and address its economic challenges in a coordinated way. Our continued efforts to support Canadian companies confronting the pandemic’s economic impact are exemplified by the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), and the billions of dollars in loan guarantees issued through our Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP). With EDC being shaped around inclusion, diversity and equity, a key goal in our support is to help level the playing field for equity-seeking businesses (Indigenous Peoples, Black and other racialized communities, persons with disabilities, women and the LGBTQ2+ community) to ensure that economic recovery is more equitably felt.
This is not the only story told here. In 2021, the world witnessed catastrophic climate events alongside the extraordinary ongoing efforts of so many partners—national, international, public and private—to address the threat of global warming. Strengthening our approach to environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices was a key priority for EDC’s Board of Directors and is front and centre in our 10-year corporate strategy. We have taken important steps and completed a number of key ESG initiatives throughout the past few years that are detailed in this report. Whether measured by the standards of Canadian financial institutions, or against the steps taken by our partner export credit agencies, EDC made significant strides in Canada’s efforts to achieve net zero carbon emissions and help international efforts to limit global warming by 2050 to 1.5°C.
For more information about how EDC is prioritizing ESG, I urge you to read the Q&A with our Chief Corporate Sustainability Officer, Justine Hendricks.
While documents of this nature tend to be retrospective, this year’s integrated annual report also addresses EDC’s future. This is because 2021 wasn’t just the second year of a pandemic; it was the first year of EDC’s 10-year strategy to make Canada a leader in international trade. EDC’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Mairead Lavery, takes a closer look at our progress on our 2030 Strategy in her message.
A new year is upon us, with all of the promise that it brings. This said, many of the same challenges that have confronted us for the previous two years remain. Is there room in 2022 to be hopeful? The answer is yes, and I would argue that many of the reasons for that optimism can be found in the pages of this document. EDC’s 2021 achievements are a result of the strong collaborative efforts between our partners, employees and customers. We are—without a doubt—more resilient together.
Whether we are dealing with a global health crisis, a national response to climate change, or Canada’s exporting challenges, EDC has demonstrated, once again, its value to Canadian business and the economy—value that will grow only greater in the years ahead.
EDC Board Chair