On Jan. 24, Dow and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) celebrated the 10-year milestone of their unique collaboration to demonstrate the business case for valuing nature in business decisions. The guiding premise of the collaboration is built on the concept that incorporating ecosystem services can lead to better business and conservation outcomes.
“Dow’s collaboration with TNC has enabled a decade of groundbreaking work that is changing the relationship between business and nature, generating significant value and sparking lasting change,” said Jim Fitterling, Dow’s chairman and chief executive officer. “A sustainable business strategy can only be achieved by looking at how a company’s decisions affect both its bottom line and the well-being of its communities. The Nature Conservancy has been an incredible partner on this journey, and we look forward to continuing to unlock value for nature and business together.”
“A decade ago, TNC and Dow embarked on this collaboration as unlikely partners with a common goal—to demonstrate nature’s immense value to business,” said Jennifer Morris, CEO, The Nature Conservancy. “We’ve built a strong relationship grounded in science, implementing on-the-ground projects and developing new tools to drive progress. It’s been exciting to see Dow’s culture change as the company has embraced integrating nature into decision making, and we look forward to expanding our work together in the years to come.”
This work is an example of how companies and organizations from different sectors can work together to drive change and serve as a model for how other companies can incorporate nature into their business practices and increase investment in protecting nature’s valuable resources. Dow and TNC share a common commitment to science, which serves as the foundation for the work. All learnings and results are reported publicly.
During the early work of the collaboration, the teams conducted robust scientific studies at Dow sites to show that nature-based solutions can be good for business and better for nature, such as how reforestation can be a cost-effective approach for ozone control and that marshes can protect coastal assets against sea-level rise and storms.
Then, the work focused on developing and sharing the tools and methodology needed for companies to build nature into their everyday practices. The first tool to come out of the collaboration was the Ecosystem Services Identification & Inventory Tool, or ESII Tool (pronounced “easy tool”), released in 2016. The ESII Tool allows users to quickly and effectively generate information on the ecosystem service performance of a specified landscape. The tool is available for free download.
Inspired by the collaboration’s success, Dow launched its Valuing Nature Goal in 2015, as part of its 2025 Sustainability Goals, with the aim to value nature in capital, real estate business development and new products. TNC helped frame the goal and has helped put in place processes to implement a methodology for evaluating ecosystems at Dow sites. Dow is more than halfway toward its target to deliver $1 billion in net present value from projects that deliver both environmental and financial value.
Key Nature Projects Stemming from the Collaboration
From living walls to wetlands, here are a few examples of projects that were implemented by Dow through its Valuing Nature Goal:
- Aratu, Brazil: Used a “living wall” solution to stabilize a slope with a natural engineered technology that incorporates native plants. By creating this “living wall” instead of using traditional steel and concrete, Dow reduced carbon emissions by 90% and reduced impact to the local forest, while also reducing costs by $1.6 million versus the least expensive of the alternatives.
- Seadrift, Texas: In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, TNC helped Dow orchestrate a prescribed burn to ensure wetlands recovered quickly and efficiently from salt intrusion, re-establishing an existing constructed wastewater treatment wetland, originally built by Dow in 1995.
- Midland, Michigan :Using the ESII Tool, the team proposed a nature-based solution in lieu of a traditional method of capping to convert an ash pond to a 23-acre conservation wetland with recreational amenities. The restoration improves ecological functions and reintroduces more than 25,000 plants, supports biodiversity and improves water and air quality, while saving $2 million over the life of the project.
Dow and TNC will continue to define opportunities aligned to sustainability and conservation priorities, such as water resilience, coastal resilience, climate adaptation and carbon reduction The collaboration will continue to help Dow advance its new, ambitious sustainability targets, announced in June 2020, and put the Company on a path to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and increase the Company’s positive impacts on society, its customers and its business.