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Dow, Nature Conservancy Form $10m Partnership

Dow Chemical and its foundation are committing $10 million over five years to a collaboration with The Nature Conservancy, to evaluate Dow’s environmental impacts.

The chemical company and environmental non-profit will apply scientific knowledge to examine how Dow’s operations affect nature, and how to factor the role of nature into global business decisions, the two organizations said.

Dow will use the conservancy’s counsel and technical support to examine issues such as the benefits of forests for clean water, and the role wetlands and reefs play in preventing storm damage. Dow said the partnership will inform new company policies on land and water management, siting and biodiversity.

Scientists from the two organizations will use and refine biodiversity assessment models on at least three Dow manufacturing sites.

The collaboration will share its findings and lessons learned, both publicly and through peer review, so other companies and scientists can test and apply them.

“This collaboration is designed to help us innovate new approaches to critical world challenges while demonstrating that environmental conservation is not just good for nature – it is good for business,” Dow chairman and chief executive officer Andrew Liveris said.

“As the world population surges, it will take public and private sector collaboration like this to make the health of the environment not just an afterthought, but a fundamental consideration in everything we do in every part of our society,” Nature Conservancy CEO Mark Tercek added.

The American Chemistry Council, which represents plastic bag makers including Dow, helped sink a 2009 Seattle measure to force a 20 cent charge on plastic bags. The council also spent millions attacking a California measure to ban such bags. The California bill eventually failed.

The Nature Conservancy and Dow Chemical are both members of the United States Climate Action Partnership, which lobbies the government on the need for greenhouse gas reduction legislation.

Dow is also one of 14 founder members of the Sustainability Innovators Working Group, started by Esty Environmental Partners and IBM. The group aims to develop new tools for environmental management. All participants are expected to share their sustainability experience and expertise.

Last summer Dow said it reduced the energy intensity of its production efforts by 38 percent between 1990 and 2009. Dow plans to increase energy efficiency by an additional 25 percent by 2015.

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