The natural capital movement has come far

1st September 2016

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Business & Industry ,
  • Natural resources ,
  • Biodiversity ,
  • Ecosystems


Alice Hands

Valuing nature is an advanced test for sustainability leaders.

At the launch of the Natural Capital Protocol in July no one could fail to be struck by how far this movement has come. After its publication, I revisited early soundings on the barriers to valuing nature IEMA members were facing in 2012. Central was recognition that the natural environment will nearly always offer no immediate business value – although closer inspection will often refute this. By contrast, carbon was hitting the bottom line in a tangible way.

So where are we now? Clearly the protocol cannot compete with the relative simplicity of carbon valuation and instead a menu of approaches is introduced and signposted. Valuing nature is an advanced test for sustainability leaders. Unlike carbon or energy management, there is rarely any single driver that will carry through into decision-making. The protocol works a bit like a Haynes repair manual by providing practical pathways to valuation. However, its primary function is a companion to understanding and influencing decision-making.

Other barriers identified in 2012 were communication and language, and other functions failing to take seriously the concept of natural capital. These reflect the culture of organisations, their decision-making processes and relatively short-term thinking, and the general inertia of accepted business models.

In effect, valuing nature offers opportunities, adding value in bids and in delivering projects and services for clients, as well as for building brand and reputation. It also interacts with common tools and standards, such as ISO 14001. Integrating and mainstreaming is central to progress.

The skills set required by practitioners is in finding the business relevance. The opportunity is to plan, innovate, collaborate and pick the tools and approach for your situation.

The protocol is an important stepping stone on this journey.


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

Is the sea big enough?

A project promoter’s perspective on the environmental challenges facing new subsea power cables

3rd April 2024

Read more

The UK’s major cities lag well behind their European counterparts in terms of public transport use. Linking development to transport routes might be the answer, argues Huw Morris

3rd April 2024

Read more

Tom Harris examines the supply chain constraints facing the growing number of interconnector projects

2nd April 2024

Read more

The UK government’s carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) strategy is based on optimistic techno-economic assumptions that are now outdated, Carbon Tracker has warned.

13th March 2024

Read more

The UK government’s latest Public Attitudes Tracker has found broad support for efforts to tackle climate change, although there are significant concerns that bills will rise.

13th March 2024

Read more

A consortium including IEMA and the Good Homes Alliance have drafted a letter to UK government ministers expressing disappointment with the proposed Future Homes Standard.

26th February 2024

Read more

Global corporations such as Amazon and Google purchased a record 46 gigawatts (GW) of solar and wind energy last year, according to BloombergNEF (BNEF).

13th February 2024

Read more

Three-quarters of UK adults are concerned about the impact that climate change will have on their bills, according to polling commissioned by Positive Money.

13th February 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close