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Erb Institute Unveils New Student Internship to Bridge Business and Environment

5/9/2007 --

Joint program sponsored by Dow Chemical and Environmental Defense highlighted at Erb's recent NGO summit

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise has announced the formation of a new corporate sustainability student internship sponsored by Dow Chemical Co. and Environmental Defense.

The joint internship, being launched this summer, will give Erb MBA/MS students interested in working at the intersection of business and the environment an opportunity to gain experience with some of the leading practitioners in the field. Over the course of two summers, students will view corporate social responsibility through the eyes of a Fortune 100 company and a leading environmental advocacy group.

The program and selected student interns, Ali Moazed and Marc Weatherill, were announced at the Erb Institute's recent summit on business and the environment.

Held May 3-5, "What Do NGOs Want? Challenges Facing 21st Century Environmental Groups" was designed to spark dialogue and extract new insights for collaboration between nongovernmental organizations and businesses. Bringing together a diverse group of experts, including academic scholars, NGO representatives and members of the business community who work with NGOs, the conference will produce a book illuminating the potential and the pitfalls of NGO engagement with corporations.

Participants agreed that in recent years environmental NGOs have shifted their efforts from influencing government policy toward directly influencing corporations and markets, through a mix of "carrots and sticks." For example, World Wildlife Fund and Environmental Defense collaborate with corporations to increase profits, while cutting greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, Greenpeace works to "Exxpose Exxon" and its efforts to delay action on global warming, while Rainforest Action Network's "Say No to New Coal" campaign pressures Wall Street to stop financing new coal plants.

Business leaders at the conference admitted they have trouble evaluating the costs and benefits of partnerships with NGOs, and that they make decisions about such partnerships more on faith than on careful analysis. Academics called for greater accountability and transparency on the part of NGOs and better documentation that corporate campaigns produce meaningful results. All agreed that solving the climate problem will require greater business engagement, but also strong government policy and increased technological innovation.

"NGOs play a vital role in addressing complex environmental issues such as climate change and the conservation of biodiversity," said Thomas Lyon, director of the Erb Institute and professor at the Ross School of Business and School of Natural Resources and Environment. "At the same time, the landscape in which they operate is changing rapidly, requiring a shrewd mix of collaboration and confrontation to increase membership and funding, form alliances and change corporate behavior. In addition to the NGO summit, the Erb Institute has demonstrated its commitment to furthering partnership between NGOs and business with the launch of our new joint internship program."

For more information on the NGO conference, visit http://www.erb.umich.edu/News-and-Events/NGO.htm. To visit the Erb Web site, go to http://www.erb.umich.edu.



For more information, contact:
Bernie DeGroat
Phone: (734) 936-1015 or 647-1847
E-mail: bernied@umich.edu