MAC: Mines and Communities

An unholy alliance?

Published by MAC on 2011-01-31
Source: Environmental News Service (ENS) (2011-01-24)

Dow partners with Nature

If you go to  Dow Chemical Company's website at this moment then, emblazoning its home page, you'll find the photo of an idyllic mountain over a peerless lake.

This saccharin image greets the news that one of the world's most criticised chemical manufacturers is now collaborating with one of America's biggest conservation organisations, to promote "sustainability": http://www.dow.com/

"At Dow we're committed to responsible care (sic)" - or so the company said last week. Its new link-up with The Nature Conservancy is intended to go one step further - to "Value Nature".

We know what The Nature Conservancy thinks about "valuing nature". It's a proponent of highly contentious "mine for land" swaps, as borne out by its recent willingness to negotiate such arrangements with Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton in Arizona. See:Resolution Copper seeks support by wielding checkbook

As for Dow Chemical, could there be a worse corporate history of creating devastation, complicity in terror, and betrayal of the poor?.

The corporation's mis-management of the Rocky Flats nuclear facility between 1951 and 1975 led to numerous radiation releases and fires.

Even after other companies refused to supply flesh-incinerating napalm to US forces waging war on Vietnam, Dow carried on doing so until 1969.

The company is probably best-known for having taken over Union Carbide in 2001, some years after UC caused the world's worst-ever industrial disaster at Bhopal in India. Dow continues dismissing claims that it has any legal responsibility for the continuing misery and ill-health of many thousands of people.

Dow also produces chemicals for the mining and minerals industry.

Recently it settled out of court with some 1,400 miners in Alabama who sued the company in 2001 as a result of being poisoned by rock glue containing isocyanade (Methyl Isocyanade was the culprit chemical that scourged the citizens of Bhopal).

Just last November, Dow also signed an agreement with China's massive Shenhua corporation, to co-produce chemicals from coal.

However warped Dow's definition of "sustainable development" may be, it's the kind we're not unfamiliar with these days. Almost every tom, dick and harry of an outfit tries painting over the murkiest of their operations in glowing colours.

But  how can The Nature Conservancy justify now "going to the mountaintop" with Deadly Dow?

The devil only knows.

[Commentary by Nostromo Resarch, 29 January 2011]

Dow Chemical Partners With The Nature Conservancy to Improve Sustainablity

Environmental News Service (ENS)

24 January 2011

DETROIT, Michigan - The Dow Chemical Company and The Nature Conservancy today annnounced a new collaboration between the two organizations to help Dow recognize, value and incorporate nature into its business goals, decisions and strategies.

Speaking at the Detroit Economic Club, Andrew Liveris, Dow's chairman and chief executive officer, said the company and its foundation are committing $10 million to the collaboration over the next five years.

"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," Liveris said.

Mark Tercek, chief executive of The Nature Conservancy, said his nonprofit organization will provide strategic, science-based counsel and technical support to help answer questions about the value and benefits of natural areas on or near where Dow works - such as the benefits of a forest to ensuring clean water for towns and factories, and the role natural wetlands and reefs play in preventing damage from storms.

"This project is an example of the type of cooperation required to make real, long-term progress in protecting the Earth's natural systems and the services they provide people," said Tercek. "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."

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 business and society.

"Companies that value and integrate biodiversity and ecosystem services into their strategic plans are best positioned for the future by operationalizing sustainability," Liveris said.

"At Dow, we see sustainability as an adjective and one that we apply to almost everything we do: sustainable manufacturing, sustainable solutions and sustainable opportunities to constantly add to the quality of life for our communities and fellow citizens," he said. "Today, tomorrow, always."

Dow operates a group of specialty chemical, advanced materials, agrosciences and plastics businesses in electronics, water, energy, coatings and agriculture. The company's more than 5,000 products are manufactured at 214 sites in 37 countries. In 2009, Dow had annual sales of $45 billion and employed approximately 52,000 people worldwide.

The collaboration will use scientific models, maps, and analysis for biodiversity and ecosystem services - the benefits that nature provides for people, like clean air, water, and food - and apply them to Dow's business decisions, said Liveris, who is originally from Australia.

He said the collaboration will inform Dow on setting new policies and approaches in the areas of land and water management, siting considerations, the benefits of natural resources on Dow lands and waterways, and more explicit management of biodiversity.

Scientists from both organizations will implement and refine ecosystem services and biodiversity assessment models, initially, on at least three Dow manufacturing sites.

One of the major objectives of this collaboration is to share all tools, lessons learned and results publicly and through peer-review so that other companies, scientists and interested parties can test and apply them.

Tercek, formerly a managing director at Goldman Sachs, where he headed the firm's Environmental Strategy Group and Center for Environmental Markets, said, "We hope that the results of this effort will demonstrate to other organizations and companies that incorporating nature's services into decisions is a responsible, smart and viable business strategy."

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