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Dow Moves to Make Nature Part of the Bottom Line

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday January 27th, 2011 | 1 Comment

Dow Chemical and the Nature Conservancy (TNC) announced a partnership on January 25 during a press conference at the Detroit Economic Club to develop tools and demonstrate models for valuing nature in business. Dow committed $10 million over the next five years to the collaboration with TNC. Jennifer Molnar, manager of TNC’s Analysis Team, called the partnership a “breakthrough.”

The partnership will use scientific models, maps, and analysis for biodiversity and ‘ecosystem services’, a Dow press release states, and apply them to the company’s business decisions. The partnership will also “inform Dow on setting new policies and approaches in the areas of land and water management, siting considerations, the benefits of natural resources on Dow lands and waterways, and more explicit management of biodiversity.”

According to the press release, “Scientists from both organizations will implement and refine ecosystem services and biodiversity assessment models, initially, on at least three Dow manufacturing sites.”

TNC lists four things it hopes to get out of the partnership:

  • Help reduce biodiversity loss and sustain natural areas
  • Serve as an example to other companies and organizations that incorporating nature’s Value into business decisions is a good business strategy
  • Publish peer-reviewed science and convene leaders in this field

TNC and Dow have already worked together in Brazil. Dow gave a $1.5 million three-year grant to implement the Cachoeira Restoration Project in Brazil.

During an interview with Greenbiz, Neil Hawkins, Vice President, Sustainability & EH&S said that Dow does not “explicitly address…ecosystems services and biodiversity.” Hawkins said that ecosystems services and biodiversity are areas Dow “felt we needed to get better in.” Dow has land holdings and facilities all over the world, Hawkins pointed out, and needs a “thoughtful, economic approach that builds directly into our business decision-making the value of nature to Dow.”

Michelle Lapinkski, Director, Corporate Practices at TNC, gave an example of how the partnership with TNC can be applied to Dow’s business decisions. Lapinski said that forest cover “in a watershed significantly influences water quality and quantity.” She added, “By evaluating ecosystem services, a company like Dow may decide to invest in forest restoration to ensure continued water flow for their business, and others who rely on it.”

Glenn Prickett, TNC’s Chief External Affairs Officer, “To me, most fundamentally, success comes if businesses start to see conservation — that is, helping to restore healthy ecosystems — as a source of cost reduction and revenue enhancement. This is business, not just a philanthropic exercise in corporate responsibility or regulatory compliance.”


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