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Northwestern and The Nature Conservancy Renew Global Research Partnership

Joint effort will develop solutions related to ecosystem conservation and climate change

Mike M. McMahon | December 12, 2019
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EVANSTON, Ill. – Today, Northwestern University and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to further joint research related to ecosystem conservation and climate change. The MOU builds on an existing four-year partnership between the two institutions and expands the scope of their collaboration and impact.

“This agreement brings together the strengths of Northwestern’s multidisciplinary research faculty with the Conservancy’s conservation and policy experts at a time when biodiversity and ecoservice value is becoming more integrated with global solutions for climate change adaptation,” says Demetria Giannisis, managing director of the Paula M. Trienens Institute for Sustainability and Energy. The Trienens Institute, a university-wide institute for transformative sustainability and energy research and education, initiated and provides stewardship for this important alliance on behalf of Northwestern. “Together, our teams are working at the nexus of environment, science, business, and policy to move past ideas to accelerated action.”

The MOU outlines joint objectives and research areas including: insurance sector engagement on issues of climate change, storm water management, human impacts of urban biodiversity, green infrastructure, community resilience to extreme weather, corporate sustainability, and agricultural impacts of climate change.

“Our partnership with the Trienens Insitute accelerates research and data-gathering opportunities that advance our shared mission to protect both people and nature from the effects of climate change,” says Michelle Carr, director of the Illinois Chapter of TNC and a member of the Trienens Institute’s Executive Council. “In Northwestern, The Nature Conservancy has found a partner that is critical to elevating the dialogue and action around a vision of vibrant, resilient, livable cities and rural regions.”

During the past several years, Northwestern and TNC have worked together on numerous local and global projects. TNC is partnering with a team of researchers from Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and Argonne National Laboratory to monitor green infrastructure reserves outside of Chicago. The two institutions are also studying how climate change, land development, and hydropower development alter the timing, magnitude, and duration of river flow and sediment erosion in Colombia’s Magdalena River Basin. And Northwestern and TNC are both founding members of the project Systems Approaches for Vulnerable Evaluation and Urban Resilience (SAVEUR), an interdisciplinary effort that aims to more accurately predict extreme weather events and reduce impacts at the neighborhood level.

“TNC’s exceptional scientists have been working with faculty and students from across Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, Pritzker School of Law, Medill School of Journalism, and elsewhere,” says Giannisis. “This renewed commitment to collaboration allows us to build on the phenomenal work that’s already been done as well as pursue new avenues for impact.”

“As more threats challenge our world’s ability to provide equitable access to food, energy, water and air, we see this ongoing collaboration as a driver in the creation of evidence-based recommendations and advances for Chicago and other global cities,” says Carr.


About the Paula M. Trienens Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern: The Institute is Northwestern’s university-wide Institute to advance global sustainability and energy solutions through transformational research, interdisciplinary education, and public engagement. Our areas of focus include solar electricity and fuels, catalysis and green chemistry, sustainable materials, climate and carbon science, water, and resilient communities. To learn more about the Institute and the Masters of Science in Energy and Sustainability Program, visit or follow @TrienensInst on Twitter.

About the Nature Conservancy (TNC): TNC is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters, and oceans at unprecedented scale, and helping make cities more sustainable. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on Twitter.


Mike M. McMahon, Paula M. Trienens Institute for Sustainability and Energy
(847) 467-1361,

Gelasia Croom, The Nature Conservancy
(312) 580-2175,