As managing director and lead scientist of The Nature Conservancy’s new Center for Sustainability Science, Jen provides thought leadership on improving society’s ability to create a more sustainable future for nature and people, including through corporate practices and policy. The Center is focused on enabling transformative change by filling science gaps that are inhibiting large-scale uptake and implementation of sustainability solutions via corporate practices and policy.
Jen has 15 years of experience bringing science to decisions that improve the state of the natural world and how people depend on it, including through research, global assessments, corporate practice innovations, and environmental remediation.
She is the science lead for the TNC-Dow Chemical Company collaboration to incorporate nature and the value it provides to people into corporate decision-making. This work has led to Dow’s ground-breaking ten-year Valuing Nature Goal – a commitment to consider nature in all of the Fortune 50 company’s capital, R&D, and real estate decisions by 2020, while aiming to generate $1B in business value from projects that are good for business and good for ecosystems.
She has led interdisciplinary global teams of Conservancy scientists and economists dedicated to cutting-edge research and practice, including most recently, Jen was the director of science for The Nature Conservancy, where she was responsible for helping the Conservancy bring the best possible science to the organization's evolving conservation work.
Jen joined The Nature Conservancy in 2004 as part of an international team of scientists that collected, tracked, and analyzed global data to inform conservation. She was editor and co-author of The Atlas of Global Conservation (University of California Press, 2010). Partnering with some 70 institutions around the world, she and her Conservancy co-authors compiled and developed an unprecedented number of global maps to describe the state of the natural world. Jen worked with partners to make all of the data behind the global maps publicly available online. She led global analyses of habitat condition and threats with a focus on marine and freshwater systems, including the first global assessment of the distribution, pathways, and ecological impacts of marine invasive species.
Jen has been both a Sawhill Global Leadership Fellow and a Doris Duke Conservation Fellow. She is recognized as a global thought leader in sustainability science, speaking frequently at national and international conferences, and publishing widely in the academic literature.
Jen received a master’s degree from Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, where she studied the impacts of land use change on coastal ecosystems and now serves as a board member of the Alumni Association. She has a B.S. in environmental engineering from Harvard and has previous private sector experience in hydrology and environmental remediation.
Mention engineering to a typical conservationist and thoughts turn to concrete. And lots of it. But perhaps that’s unfair, as engineers increasingly look to nature for solutions.
Can valuing nature become part of business as usual? Jen Molnar, Lead Scientist, shares the progress made by the Nature Conservancy’s collaboration with The Dow Chemical Company and the tools to take their findings mainstream.
So there are numerous economic reasons for companies to consider how they rely on and impact the environment. The Conservancy is looking to make the economic case for investing in nature — to corporate culture at large.
Hoekstra, J., Molnar, J.L., Jennings, M., Revenga, C., Spalding, M.D., Boucher, T.M., Robertson, J.C., Heibel, T.J. & Ellison, K. (2010). The atlas of global conservation: changes, challenges, and opportunities to make a difference. University of California Press, Oakland, CA.
Molnar, J.L. & Kareiva, P. (2015). Conservation chemistry. Chemistry & Industry, 79, 40–40.
Reddy, S.M., Guannel, G., Griffin, R., Faries, J., Boucher, T., Thompson, M., Brenner, J., Bernhardt, J., Verutes, G., Wood, S.A., Silver, J.A., Toft, J., Rogers, A., Maas, A., Guerry, A., Molnar, J. & DiMuro, J.L. (2015). Evaluating the role of coastal habitats and sea-level rise in hurricane risk mitigation: an ecological economic assessment method and application to a business decision. Integr. Environ. Assess. Manag. doi: 10.1002/ieam.1678
Reddy, S.M.W., McDonald, R.I., Maas, A.S., Rogers, A., Girvetz, E.H., Molnar, J., Finley, T., Leathers, G. & DiMuro, J.L. (2015). Industrialized watersheds have elevated risk and limited opportunities to mitigate risk through water trading. Water Resources and Industry, 11, 27–45.
Reddy, S.M.W., McDonald, R.I., S. Maas, A., Rogers, A., Girvetz, E.H., North, J., Molnar, J., Finley, T., Leathers, G. & L. DiMuro, J. (2015). Finding solutions to water scarcity: incorporating ecosystem service values into business planning at The Dow Chemical Company’s Freeport, TX facility. Ecosystem Services, 12, 94–107.
DiMuro, J. & Molnar, J.L. (2013). The economics of ecosystems. Natural Resources & Environment, 28, 43–46.
Molnar, J.L. & Kubiszewski, I. (2012). Managing natural wealth: research and implementation of ecosystem services in the United States and Canada. Ecosystem Services, 2, 45–55.
Molnar, J.L., Gamboa, R.L., Revenga, C. & Spalding, M.D. (2008). Assessing the global threat of invasive species to marine biodiversity. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 6, 485–492.
Spalding, M.D., Fox, H.E., Allen, G.R., Davidson, N., Ferdaña, Z.A., Finlayson, M., Halpern, B.S., Jorge, M.A., Lombana, A., Lourie, S.A., Martin, K.D., McManus, E., Molnar, J., Recchia, C.A. & Robertson, J. (2007). Marine ecoregions of the world: a bioregionalization of coastal and shelf areas. BioScience, 57, 573–583.
Spalding, M.D., Fox, H., Davidson, N., Ferdaña, Z., Finlayson, M., Halpern, B., Jorge, M., Lombana, A., Lourie, S.A., Martin, K., Edmund McManus, Molnar, J.L., Newman, K., Recchia, C. & Robertson, J. (2006). Global coastal and marine biogeographic regionalization as a support tool for implementation of CBD programmes of work (COP8 Information Document No. 34). Convention on Biological Diversity, Montreal, Canada.
Molnar, J., Marvier, M. & Kareiva, P. (2004). The sum Is greater than the parts. Conservation Biology, 18, 1670–1671.
Molnar, J. & Goodridge, K. (1997). Methane production and transport within the marsh biome of Biosphere 2 (NASA Technical Report No. 19990021123).