Evaluating NGO-Corporate Partnership Effectiveness: A Case Study of the Environmental Defense Fund

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2020-04-23

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Abstract

Corporations face growing pressure from stakeholders and customers to demonstrate the steps they’re taking to positively impact the environment. To help firms confront new environmental challenges, environmental NGOs in particular have been called upon as outside experts to ensure corporate environmental initiatives are both credible and effective. Yet there is still limited research on the specific activities within these partnerships that NGOs should prioritize to maximize potential environmental gains. This report reviews the latest research on corporate voluntary environmental initiatives and surveys a leading environmental NGO (the Environmental Defense Fund) on its approach to partnering with the private sector. The results suggest that to improve the environmental performance of these partnerships, NGOs should prioritize: 1) partnering with high-profile companies to set ambitious, science-based sustainability targets that can sway entire industries; 2) collaborating with them to openly advocate for new federal environmental policy; 3) providing reporting oversight alongside key stakeholders such as investors and more activist NGOs to drive greater accountability; and 4) linking corporate environmental efforts to new commercial opportunities that boost the profitability and scalability of their results. These findings, while not exhaustive, offer a framework for further research and validate several best practices for the wider environmental NGO community to consider in its future work with the private-sector.

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Nichols-Vinueza, Alexander (2020). Evaluating NGO-Corporate Partnership Effectiveness: A Case Study of the Environmental Defense Fund. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/20501.


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