better results. This is true for anything from learning to achieving great results at the office. But cooperation is also needed at the highest level when it comes to achieving sustainable development. This is why the UN 2030 Agenda and UN Sustainable Development Goals include a goal specifically on the importance of partnerships, this reads: “Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development” ¹.
But what kind of partnerships do we need to transition to a more low carbon and sustainable future? In our daily life we will work with our fellow classmates, friends, colleagues or with family. Sustainable development not only requires all hands on deck, but it also requires that different sectors and actors come together in an integrated manner to pooling financial resources, knowledge and expertise. Cross sectoral and innovative multi-stakeholder partnerships are those that will play a key role for getting us to where we need to in the future. It is really about bringing a range of actors such as Governments, intergovernmental organizations, major groups and others stakeholders such as business, together to work collaboratively on key challenges.
The good news is that surveys indicate that the benefits of partnerships are evident to all relevant stakeholders: a recent C&E Advisory Corporate-NGO Partnerships Barometer report found that an overwhelming majority of corporate (93%) and NGO (79%) respondents agree that partnerships have helped enhance business understanding of social and environment issues while two-thirds of corporate respondents and as many as 86% of NGO respondents expect their organisations’ investment in cross-sector partnerships to increase or increase significantly over the next three years². This is truly remarkable.
It is important to note that at the macro level, we have seen such actors come together to develop the UN 2030 Agenda and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. But what is it that these organisations should be doing at the micro level?
Here are some great examples of cooperation between businesses and non-governmental organisations to help the environment that might inspire you into action:
LendEDU & One Tree Planted
LendEDU, established in 2014, is a company that provides free financial aid resources to high school and college students. It is a marketplace for student loans and student loan refinancing which helps graduates find the lowest student loan quotes with only one application. LendEDU can deliver an effective services as it is partnered with all of the leading student loan companies including SoFi, Citizens Bank, Sallie Mae, College Ave, Earnest, LendKey, Darien Rowayton Bank, and many others³.
LendEDU, therefore, provides a valuable service to students helping them navigate the often blurry waters of finances and loans. But their mission to do more for society does not end there. More recently, the company announced a partnership with One Tree Planted, a Vermont based non-profit organisation, focuses its efforts in activities that aim to reforest our planet and provide education, awareness and engagement on the importance of trees. They make it simple for individuals, businesses and schools to plant trees; at the moment they are working on reforestation campaigns in Africa, North America, Asia, and South America where they support local reforestation partners to plant proper tree species and ensure high survival rates in each region⁴.
LendEDU executives were inspired by the reforestation mission and fight against deforestation and approached One Tree Planted to see how they could make a meaningful contribution. The result? LendEDU has agreed to donate one tree for every customer helped in 2017. Initially, LendEDU will allocate the donation to One Tree Planted’s Colorado Rockies project³.
FORON & Greenpeace
Yes, you read correctly. While known mainly for its wild activist (and usually very powerful!) stunts and campaigns, Greenpeace has worked with industry to promote solutions for a better environment. The results were nothing short of impressive. In 1987, countries agreed to implement the Montreal Protocol commitment to eliminate ozone-depleting fluorocarbons. This was not easy task and it required innovation for new technologies to come to market to replace existing refrigeration systems that emitted those harmful fluorocarbons.
Greenpeace scientists worked to develop a more environmentally benign refrigeration technology. Their work paid off as in 1992, Greenpeace partnered with German company FORON to develop the first ten “Greenfreeze” technology refrigerators. There were appliances that were completely free of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Greenpeace Germany and FORON quickly moved to market and within three weeks of the new product launch had secured 70,000 orders from German households.
As you can imagine, this technology has since been adopted and used by leading consumer brands such as Coca Cola, Ben & Jerry’s and McDonald’s. Today, more than 600 million Greenfreeze fridges have been sold worldwide by leading white goods brands like Bosch, Miele, Whirlpool and Siemens. Greenfreeze technology has received numerous awards over the years but its more impressive achievement is that by virtue of using it the annual benefit for our climate is equivalent to taking 4.5 million cars off the road⁵. If these are the results of bringing businesses and NGOs together, isn’t this something worth replicating in other sectors?
LEGO & WWF
If there ever was an environmental NGO that has pursued dialogue with business in order to make a positive impact, it is WWF. WWF has worked with a range of local and international partners to pursued key environmental priorities from deforestation, to overfishing, to sustainable palm oil – and many others. With LEGO, the partnership aimed at something very specific: to work with the LEGO Group’s global suppliers in order to reduce total greenhouse gas emissions by 10,000 tonnes- equivalent to removing over 2,000 cars off the streets.
LEGO, a Danish toy manufacturer with customers and suppliers across the globe, decided to take a proactive approach in terms of the major challenges our planet is facing. Recognising that issues such as climate change and resource scarcity require collaborative solutions, it decided to join WWF’s Climate Savers programme.
Through its partnership with WWF, LEGO has committed to cutting the energy it uses to create each LEGO® element by 10% and become carbon positive by the end of 2016. Furthermore, the company realised that as much as 90% of its overall carbon impact takes place in the supply chain. So the Climate Savers partnership will help empower the company to work closer with suppliers on the best solutions to decrease this collective impact. A concrete example of that is a 2014 collaboration project with suppliers to reduce their carbon emission impacts across the process that delivers LEGO bricks into consumers’ homes. LEGO is also looking to improve the sustainability its products by using fewer materials in production, increasing recyclability, decreasing energy use, and using more renewable or recycled materials⁶.