Criticisms against TNC’s partnerships

As TNC has expanded its conservation efforts and become one of the world’s largest environmental groups, TNC has faced some major condemnation towards its corporate partnerships with oil companies, chemical producers, and the mining and logging industries. In 2003, a three-part series in the Washington Post called upon the accountability of TNC’s governance and conservation approach.[1] Collective evidence against TNC proved that the organization sold its name and logo to companies for symbolic environmentalism to earn profits. In the first series, the reporters accused TNC for letting corporations donate to conservation projects and get pollution credits in return.[2] Moreover, TNC remained silent to avoid losing their reputation and credibility as two members of its business council, BP and Exxon Mobil, have been involved in the Alaska oil drilling since the early twentieth century.

Another primary criticism comes from environmental organizations who do not want to work with big corporations like Dow and Coca-Cola.[3] Greenpeace and the Rainforest Action Network represent groups of environmentalists actively calling out the mistakes of TNC’s corporate partnership projects for their lack of transparency and responsibility. In a 2009 report titled Carbon Scam, Greenpeace raised tough criticism towards TNC’s forest carbon project in Bolivia.[4] With the participation of General Motors and American Electric Power, the project did not take into account the livelihoods of local people who depended on the forest for their survival.

The above critics against TNC disclose that TNC has made land-deal decisions instead of science-based conservation. TNC did not react or raise its voices when the government and public were holding its partners accountable for their environmental impacts. The collaborations between TNC and big corporations contain loopholes for businesses to practice greenwashing. However, the above criticism does not take into account the fact that TNC has changed some parts of business activities and persuaded many managers to include natural capital into their production inputs.   

[1] Ottaway, David and Joe Stephens. “Nonprofit Land Bank Amasses Billions”. The Washington Post, May 4, 2003.

[2] Ibid

[3] Birchard, Bill. Nature’s Keepers: The Remarkable Story of How the Nature Conservancy Became the Largest Environmental Group in the World. John Wiley & Sons, 2005.

[4] Ibid, 187-189


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