Communications and cooperation between industry and environmental groups is a valuable but sometimes underutilized tool for enhancing sustainability.
A collaboration between The Nature Conservancy and Dow demonstrates how integrating nature into business decisions can lead to better business and conservation outcomes.
This collaboration has produced extensive research and developed new tools to demonstrate how a company like Dow can include nature in its business operations.
Based on the hypothesis that investing in nature will lead to conservation and business benefits, in January 2011, Dow and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) began a collaboration to integrate ecosystem services in the business decision-making process and generate business value while valuing nature.
The collaboration represents a major commitment from a large corporation to consider nature in nearly all of its business decisions, and TNC committed its time, resources and reputation to work closely with Dow.
The collaboration also led to Dow’s Valuing Nature goal, part of the company’s 2025 Sustainability Goals. As a result of scientific, technical, and on-the-ground advisory assistance from The Nature Conservancy, Dow is on track to achieve its 2025 goal to identify $1 billion in business value from projects that are good for business and better for nature.
Success has come from extensive engagement at many levels – TNC committed scientific and leadership resources at both the corporate and local chapter levels to inspire and collaborate on projects that both help to protect nature and enhance Dow’s operations.
Together, The Nature Conservancy and Dow developed a Nature Valuation Methodology and tools to identify projects that may have a significant impact on nature using a three-pronged approach:
- A Nature Screen to help identify potential opportunities for nature projects
- An Ecosystem Services Identification and Inventory (ESII) tool to quickly and easily provide data about ecosystem services delivered by nature on a business site.
- A Nature Scorecard to validate a project’s effectiveness.
Results published in peer-reviewed journal articles have helped build the business case for how companies can benefit from nature, as well as pioneer the methodology and new tools required to integrate nature in business decisions.
Between 2016 and 2018, Dow generated more than $270 million in validated business value from 57 valuing nature projects at Dow sites around the world. Examples of Nature Projects implemented include:
- Transforming an ash pond adjacent to a Dow plant set for closure along the Tittabawassee River in Michigan into a 23-acre wetland that improved habitat, restored ecological functions and improved water and air quality.
- Implementing a natural treatment process to improve seep water quality at a former mine site in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The team built a natural treatment process to improve the seep water quality before it enters a downstream creek. A sinuous channel lined with limestone redirects runoff while adding oxygen to water, helping to create a healthy environment for fish and plant life.