Fostering Collaborations that Advance Sustainabiilty and Solutions to World Challenges (from China to the U.S.)
3:30 AM MDT | June 13, 2011 | By NEIL HAWKINS
by Neil Hawkins, group v.p./sustainability and environment, health and safety, for Dow Chemical
Companies across the globe have increasingly applied sustainability practices and funneled investments into green technologies and sustainable solutions. But to maximize effectiveness of these investments, strategic partnerships between industry and governments, academia and non-government organizations (NGOs) are a critical component to finding solutions to both everyday needs and pressing global challenges.
With more than 96% of manufactured products enabled by chemistry, Dow is uniquely positioned to steer this change. Sustainability is at the core of our business and is connected to the conscience of our organization, providing a platform for greater business growth and innovation. In 2005, Dow established next-generation sustainability goals to address the world’s challenges through a focus on efforts beyond our own walls, committing Dow to creating stronger relationships within the communities in which we operate, improving product stewardship and accelerating innovation while reducing our global footprint.
Enterprise-level sustainability commitments can, and should, be a conduit for developing partnerships, joint ventures and initiatives. To do this, we identified four key sectors for collaboration to advance sustainable solutions. Following are key examples of partnerships fostered through a shared commitment to sustainability.
In 2006, Dow, The United Nations Foundations, The Coca-Cola Company, Cargill and Wallace Genetic Foundation funded and launched the Global Water Challenge (GWC), an organization dedicated to building awareness and promoting scalable actions in expanding coverage for clean water and sanitation worldwide. Since its inception, the GWC has drawn on the experience, expertise and technology of Dow and its 23 global members to create partnerships that are far more capable than any one organization could be at accelerating the delivery of safe water and sanitation throughout the world.
Through a five-year, multi-million dollar commitment in 2007, The Dow Chemical Company Foundation established a new Sustainable Products and Solutions (SPS) Program with the Center for Responsible Business at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, in partnership with its College of Chemistry. The mission of the SPS Program is to establish a diverse research community dedicated to finding new, innovative ways to integrate sustainability into products and business.
In January 2011, Dow and The Nature Conservancy announced an unprecedented $10 million collaboration to help define the value of nature for industry. We will work together to apply scientific knowledge and experience to examine how Dow’s operations rely on and affect nature. The aim of the collaboration is to advance the incorporation of the value of nature into business, and to take action to protect the earth’s natural systems and the services they provide people, for the benefit of both business and society. All tools, lessons learned and results will be shared publicly and through peer-review so that others can test and apply them to their own initiatives and business decision-making.
Dow works with governmental institutions and agencies worldwide to advance the role of chemistry in today’s society to meet the needs for tomorrow. Collaborations and research partnerships enable Dow to share information and insight into key scientific applications and combine strengths in pursuit of solutions. Dow also supports the development of responsible, science-based regulations and global standards that safeguard the community, workplace and environment; Dow welcomes appropriate review by governments to maintain and enhance public acceptance of its operations and products.
Dow, China's Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) are collaborating on a pilot project at Dow’s Zhangjiagang facility to boost operational safety and emergency preparedness among chemical companies in China. The pilot program is believed to be the first cooperative effort of its kind in China.
These partnerships and initiatives are just a few examples of how collaboration with government, NGOs, academia and other companies are critical to advancing enterprise-level sustainability commitments that result in smart solutions.