acres of land conserved
The magnitude and urgency of the environmental challenges facing us today require innovative solutions that leverage economic forces to accelerate, amplify and sustain change. With both our for-profit and nonprofit clients, we look for the intersection of positive environmental impact and business value. Sometimes this involves helping our long-term partner The Nature Conservancy (TNC) think strategically about new ways to conserve the world’s natural resources, leveraging private sector funding and collaboration. Other times it’s working with a large multinational corporation to identify carbon emission reduction opportunities in their operations and supply chains.
The Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW) develops solutions, catalyzes investment and engages communities to help end plastic waste in the environment. AEPW has committed $1.5B over five years to this mission. We defined AEPW’s strategic priorities with CEOs from 40 of the world’s largest companies in the global plastics value chain. We also developed a decision-making tool to evaluate recycling technologies. We continue to help operationalize the strategy and build an organization that tackles one of the world’s most complex problems.
In February 2020, we announced a minority investment in EcoVadis, the world’s most trusted provider of business sustainability ratings for global supply chains. This partnership enables us to integrate EcoVadis’s sustainability ratings into our approach to corporate strategy, supply chain, and procurement. As a result, we have accelerated and deepened our ability to improve the environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance of our clients.
Pioneering a new approach to reforestation
For decades we’ve been taught to reduce our use of wood-related products, but what if it could be better to consume more? Because trees capture and store greenhouse gases, forests are the most powerful natural lever we have to mitigate climate change. Rather than simply plant more, what if groups like The Nature Conservancy also worked to increase demand for sustainable forest products? More demand would make replanting trees more profitable, creating a permanent support for sustainable reforestation. Bain conducted research into the construction industry in the US and packaging markets globally to understand how construction timber and other wood products could be used at scale, replacing other materials that have a much harsher environmental impact. Some regional chapters of TNC have now begun to explore collaborations based on this research.
Creating an economic engine to finance conservation
Often, land conservation organizations buy a tract of land and rely on donations to cover the cost. However, TNC in Georgia needed to partly fund its recent purchase of 11,000 coastal acres—including a longleaf pine savanna providing habitat for the gopher tortoise— by selling a portion of the land, once under a conservation easement, to a private buyer. To help maximize revenue from the sale, Bain interviewed experts, surveyed customers and modeled various scenarios to create an assessment of the market potential and an interim property management approach. Deron Davis, executive director of TNC in Georgia, says the resulting approach “is playing a very important role in helping assure that a crown jewel on the Georgia coast is permanently protected.”
Developing impact investment for the environment
Over the last decade, impact investment vehicles that seek to achieve a “double bottom line” of both financial return and social impact have grown dramatically. A few years ago, Bain worked with TNC to design ways to use private capital to fund critical conservation work. A Bain team helped research the investment market for sustainably managed real assets and then designed a North American Forestry Impact Fund for TNC’s impact investing unit, NatureVest. This has informed the team’s strategic approach to fund design as they develop products in other sectors, including water conservation and sustainable agriculture.
By 2050 the world’s population is expected to increase by 30%. Feeding 10 billion people while facing the cumulative impacts of climate change will place even greater stress on already-scarce natural resources, including water and arable land. We help our partners build and advocate for more sustainable supply chains and food systems.
Supporting sustainable tuna management through commercial partnerships
Over a quarter of the global tuna catch takes place in the waters of eight Pacific Island nations, and they rely heavily on their tuna fisheries both for food and economic security. Today, these countries’ earnings primarily come from access fees charged to foreign fishing fleets that operate in their waters. Bain works with TNC and these Pacific Island nations to diversify and increase the financial benefit derived from their tuna resources, and to in turn support sustainable tuna management. By creating commercialization opportunities within the region, Pacific Island countries can act as commercial partners and not just rent-seekers. This model has the potential to deliver financial, social and environmental gains to these nations by increasing their commercial participation in the global tuna supply chain.
Enabling more sustainable beef production
Bain helped TNC develop its strategy to reduce deforestation from beef production in the Amazon and Cerrado regions of Brazil. Bain started by conducting a thorough analysis of the industry structure and key drivers of business value of the Brazilian slaughterhouses that buy most of the cattle in these regions. Next, our team developed innovative techniques to analyze the flow of cattle from deforested properties to better understand how these cattle can be tracked and their usage blocked. Finally, we identified opportunities for slaughterhouses to increase their bottom line while adopting a deforestation-free business model.
Influencing government action
In 2018, ahead of the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires, business leaders from member countries (the B20) engaged Bain’s help to develop a policy paper on sustainable food systems. With input from more than 90 organizations, this paper included concrete recommendations, business commitments and case studies on five focus areas: eradicating malnutrition, undernourishment and obesity; ensuring environmental conservation and mitigating and adapting to climate change; fostering technology development and adoption; minimizing food loss and waste; and reducing barriers to global food trade.
Only 4% of companies achieve their sustainability goals. Those that do embed sustainability in their core business models, finding a way to make sustainability a source of ongoing business value and competitive advantage. Our work aims to foster this model broadly by developing environmentally focused strategies, making operations greener and organizing for success in sustainability.