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Dow, TNC Building Tool to Help Companies Better Understand Value of Natural Capital

Image Credit: Dow

Dow and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) have designed a new tool to help companies estimate the business value from nature on and adjacent to their sites, as well as the public value from lands on-site, according to a new progress report on Dow and TNC's six-year Collaboration.

The Ecosystem Services Identification & Inventory (ESII) Tool will provide baseline data to help build a better understanding of the value of nature to the business and surrounding community. The third of three scheduled pilots, the ESII tool shifts from researching potential links between business and nature to showing how the value of nature can be integrated across an organization. It will demonstrate and test how Dow can incorporate the value of nature as part of its next-generation approach to sustainability, providing a blueprint for a corporate process to:

1. Establish a baseline general understanding of the value of ecosystem services across multiple sites;

2. Screen multiple decisions for their benefit from and impact on nature; and

3. Evaluate the most promising natural-capital opportunities in depth based on how they benefit business, society and nature.

In 2015, the team expects to finalize the tool for sharing across Dow and among a select set of external corporate users, with wider availability in early 2016.

At the beginning of 2011, leaders from Dow and TNC began a conversation about the intersection of nature and business, focused on examining how appropriately valuing and accounting for nature can help improve business decisions. This led to the formation of the Collaboration, which embraces a theory of change that the inclusion of ecosystem services information and models in business decisions has the potential to produce stronger business performance and improved conservation outcomes.

The Collaboration has explored opportunities to better incorporate the value of nature into business decisions across Dow — at the corporate level and at sites around the world. Initial efforts focused on large “pilot site” analyses at Dow sites, starting in Freeport, Texas, and continuing in Santa Vitória, Brazil, where the team conducted in-depth investigations into a variety of business questions related to ecosystem services. The results are building the evidence base for how and when companies benefit from nature, as well as the tools required to replicate these analyses for other sites and businesses.

TNC is also engaged in another project to quantify natural capital — the Natural Capital Business Hub. The Hub is a project run by the Corporate EcoForum, TNC and The Natural Capital Coalition (and built by Tata Consultancy Services). It builds off a partnership launched at the Rio+20 summit in 2012 with companies such as Alcoa, Coca-Cola, Disney, Dow, GM, Kimberly-Clark, Nike, Unilever, and Xerox. They produced a report with case studies showing how companies have managed natural capital issues. The Hub expands that effort, making much more information available and searchable.


Based in San Francisco, Mike Hower is a sustainability strategist and storyteller on Edelman's Business + Social Purpose team where he works with some of the world's leading brands on corporate sustainability strategy and stakeholder engagement. With several years of… [Read more about Mike Hower]


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