The natural capital protocol could herald a ew era' for the environment and business, according to commentators.
The protocol aims to standardise how businesses measure and value impacts and dependencies on natural assets, such as freshwater and raw materials. Until now these have mainly been excluded from business decisions or been largely inconsistent, open to interpretation or limited to moral arguments, the protocol’s creators said. The new tool will harmonise existing approaches to natural capital and could revolutionise how businesses evaluate their operations, they said.
The protocol has been developed by a coalition of organisations from science, business, finance, reporting, standard setting, government and conservation. More than 450 organisations provided input, and the tool has been piloted by more than 50 firms, including Dow, Shell and Nestlé.
Peter Bakker, president of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, which led the work, said: ‘The days of defining business success by financial metrics alone are over.’
Karen Ellis, chief adviser on economics and development at WWF, which is part of the Natural Capital Coalition, the body behind the protocol, said it would help companies to manage their risks as well as highlight possible new revenue streams.
Robert Spencer, director of sustainability at consultancy AECOM, said that the protocol brought much-needed consistency. However, he warned that success would hinge on the ability of sustainability professionals to integrate it across a business by fostering collaboration between departments. ‘Progress is dependent on achieving buy-in from more commercially-focused departments, such as finance and procurement,’ he said.
Meanwhile, a report from environmental data analysts Trucost showcases firms that have benefited from measuring natural capital. It considers how they have addressed issues such as the impact of environmental constraints on material price volatility.