Thanks to the hard work of the people who work at EDC, 2021 was about being resilient together, and building a stronger economy for all Canadians. That’s a year we can all be proud of—and a year we can build a future on.

How do you plan 10 years into the future when you can’t even predict what’s going to happen tomorrow?

It’s a fair question and an important one. One that was tested many times in 2021. The Chair of EDC’s Board of Directors, Martine Irman, has already mentioned the powerful effects of the global pandemic which, as I write this, still holds us all in its grip. It was a year that not only brought us multiple variants of a viral pandemic and its economic consequences, but global political unrest, as well as environmental catastrophes in Canada and around the world. 

For a company like EDC, whose purpose is to help Canadian businesses find growth and success in international markets, 2021 may have seemed like the kind of year that made it impossible to look forward and plan ahead. One would not be blamed for thinking, “Let’s just get through this. We’ll worry about the future when things get back to normal.”  

The problem with that approach, of course, is that the future isn’t going to wait for us. Whatever it holds in store, it’s coming. That means we have to plan for it now.

Last year, EDC began the process of executing on that plan. Our vision is as straightforward as it is ambitious: By 2030, Canada will become a leader in international trade, building a better, stronger economic future for all Canadians. The foundation of this strategy is shaped by years of experience and careful analysis, and built around four key pillars: putting the needs of our customers first and transforming how we support them; understanding what sectors and markets present the greatest opportunities for Canadian companies; focusing on making an impact that matters; and leading with our values by embedding ESG into everything that we do. 

Even in the midst of a global pandemic, EDC was able to make important headway in building these foundational pillars. Today, we are proud to serve almost 30,000 customers, approximately four times the number of companies that benefited from our services at the start of 2016. 

To achieve our vision, we are transforming the way we work, think and act to be more impactful for Canadian companies and Canadians more broadly. This includes putting the needs of our customers at the centre of everything we do. A key focus is on simplifying and digitizing processes to make it easier and faster for customers to access our services. Another priority is tailoring our support to meet the unique and differing needs of Canadian businesses, whether they are micro or small, medium-sized, or large companies.

For the medium-sized segment of companies, we’ve launched a range of activities that will help us advance our efforts to deliver for this especially critical, high-growth segment. We’ve also identified a number of key industries that have extraordinary potential for contributing to Canada’s future trading success—sectors such as agri-food, advanced technologies (like robotics and artificial intelligence) and, of course, cleantech, an area where EDC has been a significant Canadian contributor for a decade now.

Underpinning all of this, our 2030 Strategy makes a strong commitment to values-based leadership and corporate values. In 2021, EDC continued the process of strengthening our approaches to corporate responsibility and transparency, to economic equity, social justice and human rights, and of course, to climate action. In this last area, 2021 was a particularly important year. We joined the growing movement of corporations and nations around the world that are making the commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and have already achieved major reductions in the size of our portfolio of carbon-intensive industries. As a force for multinational climate action, EDC—along with its subsidiary development finance institute, FinDev Canada—brought its influence to bear at one of the most consequential meetings of this generation, the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow. In addition to strengthening Canada’s voice at the table, EDC showed leadership by joining the Powering Past Coal Alliance, making EDC the world’s first export credit agency to take this important step toward a low-carbon global economy. 

Last year was, first and foremost, about helping Canada survive a pandemic. But as we move toward recovery, there are incredible opportunities emerging for Canadian companies to tap into. The future doesn’t wait for any of us. We need to plan now, and that’s what EDC did in 2021.

With EDC’s 2030 Strategy in place, we are adapting our business at this critical juncture, with the goal of maximizing our impact for Canadian exporters and the economy. In this integrated annual report, you’ll find more details about the achievements I’ve just mentioned, and much more. 

Thanks to the hard work of the people who work at EDC, 2021 was about being resilient together, and building a stronger economy for all Canadians. That’s a year we can all be proud of—and a year we can build a future on.

 

Mairead Lavery
EDC President and CEO