Sustainability Is Good Business
The recent uproar over the Sierra Club’s acceptance of $26 million in undisclosed donations from an energy company prompted some environmentalists to warn against “sleeping with the enemy.” This sort of us-against-them rhetoric is all too common when it comes to business and the environment. Yet, one of the country’s leading defenders of the natural world aggressively seeks out partnerships with major corporations to advance their mutual interests.
Speaking to a student audience last week on campus, the Nature Conservancy’s president and CEO, Mark Tercek (MBA 1984), stressed the need for business and environmentalists to collaborate to develop sustainable enterprises. He described, for example, how Nature Conservancy scientists are working with Rio Tinto, a global mining behemoth, to craft an environmentally sensitive design for the world’s biggest copper mine in Mongolia. “Rio wants to be an environmental good citizen,” said Tercek, a former managing director at Goldman Sachs, where he played a key role in developing the firm’s environmental strategy. “So the question is, how do you avoid damaging the ecosystem while extracting needed mineral resources?”
With some 600 scientists on the payroll, the Nature Conservancy isn’t shy about offering its science-based expertise to help corporations soften their environmental footprints. Dow Chemical and British Petroleum are among its corporate partners.
Tercek’s bottom line: sustainability is good business, and groups like the Nature Conservancy can advance the cause. Put another way, rather than us against them, we’re all in this together.