The Nature Conservancy and Dow Chemical Company are working together on a breakthrough collaboration to demonstrate that protecting nature can be a global business strategy – and a corporate priority. Dow and its foundation together have committed $10 million over the next five years to develop tools and demonstrate models for valuing nature in business decisions. With the help of the Conservancy, Dow will work to incorporate biodiversity and the value of nature into its company-wide goals, strategies and objectives. With support from Dow’s foundation, the Conservancy will use lessons learned, collaborative scientific analyses, and its own conservation experience to pursue wide-spread use of these conservation tools by other companies.
Corporate sustainability and offsets of environmental impacts are nothing new. Many companies have an admirable commitment to sustainability: They’re making their products more green; they’re mitigating their environmental footprint; they’re trying to do the right thing every day to waste less and be more efficient. What is new about this collaboration is that one of the world’s largest companies is making a commitment to consider nature when making business decisions. Protecting biodiversity (plants, animals, lands, and water) will now be a company-wide strategy for Dow, factored into its plans, goals, and objectives. It will be a core part of the company’s business model. And could change the way it does business — from the way it manufactures products to what happens on the land it owns.
For years, people and industries have calculated the return on investment of other inputs but this effort will help determine the return of an investment in conservation. For example, seafood, lumber, and clean drinking water are important – and their respective industries are highly valued. Now, the Nature Conservancy and Dow will try to show how important it is to also value the nature that provides for those industries: the oceans that provide the fish; the forests that provide the trees; and the rivers that provide the fresh water. Through this collaboration the Conservancy hopes to put these values into business decisions, and ideally, Dow’s example will impact other corporations and nonprofits by proving that environmental conservation isn’t just good for nature; it can be good for business, too.
Goals for the Collaboration
The Nature Conservancy will work with support from Dow and its foundation to, first, help recognize, value and incorporate nature into its business decisions and strategies, at the site and corporate levels. This collaboration will help reduce the loss of biodiversity and help sustain natural areas – lakes, rivers, oceans, forests, lands – so they can thrive and continue to benefit people.
We hope that the results of this collaboration will also demonstrate to other organizations and companies that incorporating the value of nature into business decisions is a responsible, smart and viable business strategy.
We expect the learnings and outcomes of this collaboration to influence the actions and business strategies of other companies, and plan to share tools and lessons learned publicly. In fact, one of the major objectives of this collaboration is to publish peer-reviewed science and convene leaders in this field to discuss, analyze, and learn from our efforts.
Some highlights include:
- The Nature Conservancy, in partnership with the SABESP, the São Paulo State Environmental Agency (SMA–SP), and Piracaia Municipality, and with a $1.5M, three year grant from Dow Chemical Company and its Foundation, are implementing the Cachoeira Restoration Project in one of the six main reservoirs of the Cantareira Water System. The goals of this project include restoring 865 acres near the reservoir; creating a fund based on the sale of carbon offsets; reducing carbon dioxide emissions with the protection of trees; and creating new jobs and income for local people.
- In addition, the foundation has also supported the Conservancy’s work on the ground in Michigan.
- Dow has also been a member of the Conservancy’s International Leadership Council, a forum for engaging some of the world’s largest companies in biodiversity conservation—to share conservation information, expertise and ideas.