The Future of Corporate-NGO Partnerships: Insights from the Fortune 500

Last week, we hosted an intimate lunch at the Fortune Brainstorm Green conference in Laguna Niguel to get the perspective of Fortune 500 firms on the future of Corporate-NGO Partnerships.

Our Vice President of Corporate Partnerships, Gwen Ruta, kicked off the lunchtime conversation with an interesting insight: “20 years ago [when we partnered with McDonald’s], it was heresy that an NGO would partner with a company.  Nowadays, nearly every large business has an NGO engagement strategy.  Could it be that tomorrow’s heresy is that companies share environmental innovations and best practices with each other to solve environmental problems?”

This probing question elicited some really astute ideas from the lunch attendees, and was too rich to include every detail here, but here’s a snapshot of some great comments that emerged on ways that Environmental Defense Fund might scale its impact:

  • “The key is to determine which areas of sustainability are truly competitive and which can be shared openly amongst companies.  For example, if key green technologies are expensive, it’s to the benefit of all companies to work together to bring down those costs.” Read more

Roadmap to Corporate Greenhouse Gas Programs

Feeling overwhelmed by all of the voluntary greenhouse gas (GHG) programs and initiatives being advertised to companies these days? From the Global Reporting Initiative to EPA Energy Star to the US Climate Action Partnership and beyond, the sheer number of voluntary GHG programs can leave companies (and even EDF staff) feeling bewildered and unsure of where to start.

To help solve that problem, we’ve created a Roadmap to Corporate GHG Programs [PDF], a step-by-step guide to help companies develop a strategy for GHG emissions that can lead to credible and lasting reductions. Read more

Consumed by Consumption

Last month, I attended my first Solutions Lab in Durham, North Carolina. For those that don’t know, Environmental Defense Fund is hosting Solutions Labs around the country to bring together sustainability thought leaders from all walks of life. To be honest, I was a little skeptical that the “unconference”-style event (one where attendees choose the topics of discussion) would be a good use of my time. Fortunately, my concerns were unwarranted. Not only was this one of the best conferences I’ve attended in a long time, but it also tackled an issue that the sustainable business community has generally shied away from – CONSUMPTION. Read more

Is the Customer Always Right? Yes, When it Comes to Sustainability.

Greg Andeck leads EDF’s Corporate Partnerships “Innovation Pipeline” to identify and develop groundbreaking environmental initiatives with leading U.S. companies.

The world’s leading companies all conduct extensive research to determine what their customers want and how they want it.  Whether they hire firms like Synovate or Millward Brown, or do consumer research in-house, companies know the value of crafting products that fit their customers’ needs and desires.

This is why it’s so perplexing that companies don’t do the same when developing substantive sustainability strategies.  All too often, companies launch campaigns that are later accused of greenwashing or limit their efforts to indirect efficiency improvements, when it’s their core product that really needs the greening.  It turns out that by paying more attention to their customers, companies can unlock solutions for true environmental innovation and get richly rewarded for doing so.

Taking a Page from Environmental LCAs Read more

Harnessing Market Power for the Environment

Here at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), we look for market based solutions to environmental problems. As the guy in charge of managing our partnership pipeline process, I’m constantly on the lookout for new win-win environmental and business solutions we can pioneer with companies. I’m often asked how we identify the companies that we partner with. And increasingly the word I use is LEVERAGE.

Read more

Green Eats

Today EDF and Restaurant Associates (part of the foodservice giant Compass Group) released the Green Dining Best Practices, a comprehensive set of science-based recommendations for environmentally friendly dining. The recommendations cover twelve key dining categories related to food purchase and facility operation, and will be updated over time as new best practices evolve.

The project began over a year and a half ago in response to a growing number of inquiries we were getting from companies confused by the plethora of “green” solutions being recommended to them by the media, vendors, and suppliers. Some of the questions included: what’s more important local or organic? What do I do about bottled water? Is this biodegradable package really more environmentally friendly? Frankly, they were confused. And no wonder. Read more