Corporate cooperation

Environmental group representatives are often asked to sit on advisory panels for industry and business. These panels are composed of people who offer companies outside perspectives on their plans and actions. For environmental activists, being on advisory panels presents opportunities to help companies develop a greater understanding of the ecological impact of their actions.

The benefits of NGO-corporate partnerships go beyond advisory panels, however. Businesses are a link for NGOs to create policy changes, and the support of an NGO can help endorse the climate-friendly practices of a business. With their comprehensive understanding of the causes of climate change, NGOs can offer industries real insight into problematic practices that have been causing major emissions. And businesses can often find practical (and economical) ways to implement greenhouse gas-reducing technologies and strategies. By bringing these two specializations (so to speak) together, industries can get a more holistic perspective on best practices for business and industry operations.

Some partnerships between NGOs and businesses, such as the following, have really helped reduce greenhouse gases:

i The Climate Group is an international organization made up of companies and government representatives to advance leadership on climate change, work with partners such as HSBC Holdings and Intel to improve management systems, save energy, set targets for reducing emissions, and make a profit while they're at it.

i Conservation International partnered with Ford Motors to create the Center for Environmental Leadership in Business. The Center is dedicated to bringing in large corporate partners, such as Marriott International (the hotel chain), to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and engage hotel guests in rainforest conservation projects. Another partner is Starbucks, now working on a five-year climate change adaptation project to support coffee-growing countries to protect the agricultural land, water, and forests that sustain the countries.

i The Pembina Institute in Alberta, Canada, has worked with companies such as Suncor in the oil industry to reduce their emissions.

i World Wildlife Fund International leads a project entitled Climate Savers, engaging companies such as IBM and Lafarge to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions. The goal is to deliver emission cuts equal to taking 3 million cars off the road every year by 2010.

An NGO risks its credibility when it puts its name beside that of a business. NGOs are rooted in value systems and the values of their members. The World Wildlife Fund faced criticism when it partnered with Nike in 2001 because of the company's labor policies, even though WWF was linked to Nike on only environmental issues. Likewise, corporations can stand a risk of being linked with strong standpoints that a partner NGO might bring to the media.

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