The idea of natural capital – understanding impacts and dependencies on nature – is growing in popularity among some public and private organisations but is not yet widely understood.

A survey of IEMA’s Biodiversity and Natural Capital Network members showed that sustainability professionals want to know more on the concept and its application. This month, IEMA has produced a new paper on this topic: ‘Natural capital 101 – Insights for sustainability professionals’.

The paper is co-authored by Lesley Wilson, IEMA Policy and Engagement Lead, along with Dr Alison Holt, Director at Natural Capital Solutions and Dr Stephanie Hime, Managing Director at Little Blue Research.

Natural capital 101 aims to define the concept of natural capital, why it’s important and what benefits taking a natural capital approach can bring. We are endeavoring to empower sustainability professionals and drive holistic decision making.

The paper should help nature to be considered within an organisation at the same level as other key risks and opportunities, such as climate change, and enable this knowledge to be used in a way that benefits the natural world, our economy, and society.

The contents of the paper are:

  • What is natural capital?
  • Why take a natural capital approach?
  • What is a natural capital assessment?
  • Valuing natural capital
  • Natural capital accounting basics
  • What helps to make a successful natural capital assessment
  • Key terms
  • Additional resources

This is not a step-by-step guide to be used as a methodology but is designed to shed light on the concepts and approaches to natural capital using accessible language, frameworks and lots of references where you can find out more.

IEMA members can download their copy here

Non-IEMA members can purchase the document here (under 'Biodiversity and Natural Capital')

Photo of Lesley
Lesley Wilson

Policy and Engagement Lead

Lesley is Policy and Engagement Lead at IEMA with a focus on biodiversity and natural capital. Lesley also supports IEMA’s role as Secretariat to the UK Business and Biodiversity Forum, working with businesses to raise the profile of, mainstream, and share good practice in, biodiversity. Lesley joined IEMA in December 2021 after 11 years delivering projects, programmes and solutions for business in the field of environmental sustainability for the British Standards Institution (BSI), including ground breaking standards in biodiversity net gain and natural capital. Lesley has a qualification in business management (MBA) and climate change management, and mentors environmental students at the University of Westminster.


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