Natural capital protocol launched

13th July 2016

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  • Business & Industry ,
  • Agriculture ,
  • Planning ,
  • Resource extraction ,
  • Water


Clare Palferman

Published by the Natural Capital Coalition, the protocol is the culmination of a two-year project involving more than 450 organisations to develop a common framework and procedures for monitoring, measuring and valuing natural capital.

Natural capital brings together the environmental strands of climate, water, energy, biodiversity and waste into a uniform strategic approach to help businesses evaluate their operations and make informed decisions on reducing pollution, biodiversity, and climate change.

Mark Gough, executive director at the coalition, said: ‘The protocol will allow all businesses around the world to realise the benefits of including nature in their decision-making. Now we have a standardised framework, it is time for action.’

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development helped to develop the protocol. Its president and chief executive Peter Bakker said businesses needed to take a more holistic view of their performance: ‘The days of defining business success by financial metrics alone are over. The protocol will help companies make better, more informed decisions.’

The protocol is aimed primarily at managers from sustainability, environment, health and safety, and operations departments to help them to generate natural capital information that can be integrated into existing business processes, such as risk assessments, procurement, operations and financial planning.

Robert Spencer, director of Sustainability at consultancy AECOM, welcomed the protocol but said its success would hinge on companies’ ability to integrate natural capital assessments into their everyday decision-making. ‘While the protocol arms sustainability professionals with robust guidance on how to measure the value of natural capital, progress is dependent on achieving buy-in from more commercially focused departments, such as finance and procurement,’ he said.

More than 50 leading businesses have piloted the protocol, including Dow, Shell, the Coca-Cola Company, Kering, Hugo Boss, Yorkshire Water, Nestlé, Interface, Olam and Nespresso.

Last year, the UK’s Natural Capital Committee reported concerns of overuse of England’s natural assets. ‘Some of the key benefits that nature provides are at risk,’ the report, State of Natural Capital, concluded. In response, the government has stated its commitment to publishing 25-year plan for a healthy natural economy.


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