Meaningful stakeholder engagement and collaboration are central to the transparent governance of our company. This is especially true of our environmental partnerships. In North America, 11 ArcelorMittal facilities are located directly adjacent to the Great Lakes. We have been involved in various public-private partnerships and spearheaded stakeholder engagement to ensure the Great Lakes region is a global leader in land and water conservation strategies.
Since its inception, ArcelorMittal has been the sole corporate partner with Sustain Our Great Lakes (SOGL), a consortium of key regulatory agencies and government environment services. Administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, we began as and remain the program’s only corporate partner. ArcelorMittal has invested $5.6 million in SOGL since 2008, and continues to increase our investment each year. Together with our partners, SOGL has provided nearly nearly $59 million in grants and leveraged $55 million in matched giving, totaling more than $113.6 million in conservation investments in the region.
SOGL is important to ArcelorMittal for many reasons. First and foremost, it invests in protecting and restoring key land and water habitats around the Great Lakes. Since 2008, we have restored more than 33,000 acres of wetland, coastal and upland habitat and connected more than 1,600 stream miles. Equally as important are the relationships ArcelorMittal builds with key stakeholders and our communities through the work of this program. By supporting the environmental interests of the Great Lakes region, we work to build trust with our stakeholders and demonstrate leadership in tackling the issues that matter to them.
Being part of SOGL has created positive and helpful working relationships with a number of stakeholder groups and ensures we have regular communications with important organizations, such the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and others throughout the year.
The SOGL model has proved so successful that we have continued to partner with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation on a more localized model of the program in the form of the Chi-Cal Rivers Fund. Specific to the Chicago and Calumet regions of Illinois and Indiana, Chi-Cal Rivers Fund has leveraged more than $11 million in funding in this region since 2013. Here, we partner not only with public entities and private foundations, but also with other corporations invested in conservation in the Calumet region.
Programs like SOGL and Chi-Cal are just two of the public-private partnerships key to our work in the Great Lakes region. Other examples include:
-The Calumet Land Conservation Partnership was launched by ArcelorMittal and foundation partner the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation (GDDF). These two partners brought together nonprofit organizations from both Illinois and Indiana to collaborate on land conservation issues around the region. Together, ArcelorMittal and GDDF have invested more than $1.5 million in funding for the partnership since 2013.
-In 2015, ArcelorMittal worked to convene stakeholders in Northwest Indiana at our research and development center in East Chicago, Indiana. Joining us were companies like ExxonMobil and Praxair. This meeting was assembled by non-profit partner Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) as part of a grant from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Coastal Program and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. Daniel Goldfarb, senior manager, conservation partnerships at WHC, said of this meeting, “More than ever before, industry is recognizing the vital role they can have in not only restoring land on their property, but opening it up to students as a living laboratory.”
In addition to engaging in public-private partnerships externally in the region, ArcelorMittal extends our commitment to conservation and stakeholder collaboration on our own lands. At our facility in Burns Harbor, Indiana, we are uniquely positioned adjacent to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Since 2011, we have actively worked to restore 40 acres of key portions of a rare dune and swale habitat on our site. This location was recertified as a WHC Corporate Lands for Learning site in 2015. Through a partnership with the Field Museum and the Nature Conservancy, dune and swale habitat is also being restored on more than 10 acres of our ArcelorMittal research and development center site.
To further engage our community, we have regularly opened our doors to school children to participate in environmental stewardship activities on both of these sites. In partnership with nonprofit organizations Dunes Environmental Learning Center, The Field Museum and Shirley Heinze Land Trust, a program for elementary school students called Mighty Acorns regularly brings students onsite to learn about environmental restoration and conservation. Projects like this one bring our community stakeholders into our facilities and increases awareness of the projects we care about both internally and externally.
“We are very excited to have an opportunity to enhance the natural areas on our property, and share what we’ve learned with other industry in Northwest Indiana,” said Gregory Ludkovsky, vice president, Global Research and Development. “The team in East Chicago should be very proud for taking the initiative to open the property to students and to collaborate with nearby companies. ArcelorMittal is known worldwide as an innovative supplier of steel products, but I believe we are also becoming known throughout Northwest Indiana as an innovator in relationship building.”