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The Natural Capital Coalition Dismantles the Barriers to Valuing Nature

Mark Gough — Executive Director, Natural Capital Coalition


Natural capital’ is ‘the stock of renewable and non-renewable natural resources (e.g., plants, animals, air, water, soils and minerals), that combine to yield a flow of benefits to people.’

All businesses have both an impact and a dependency on natural capital. Understanding this complex relationship between nature, individual businesses, and the global economy, can provide invaluable insights on how to protect and enhance the health not only of the planet, but of our social and economic systems too.

For instance, Dow Chemical recently identified, through a natural capital assessment, that planting a 1,000 acre forest next to a chemical factory would be more efficient, cheaper, require less maintenance and provide longer service provision than installing conventional smokestacks as a method of removing excess nitrogen oxide from the air.

There are an abundance of ways that natural capital data can be utilized in order to improve the health of the environment, the success of the economy and the welfare of human beings. At its heart, what this comes down to is an ability to make robust and informed long-term decisions.

Natural Capital Coalition graphic
Image credit: Natural Capital Coalition.

However, there are obstacles that have stood in the way of scaling natural capital approaches, and in training organizations in how to identify nature-based solutions. One of these challenges has been the lack of a standardized framework to guide businesses through these often complex assessments. By providing such a framework in the form of the Natural Capital Protocol and two related sector guides, (Food & Beverage and Apparel), the Natural Capital Coalition is attempting to dismantle the hurdles standing in the way of wide-scale business adoption, and accelerate progress in the global economy.

Developed in a unique collaborative effort among 38 organizations—with input from hundreds more during consultation—the Protocol provides a standardized framework for businesses to identify, measure and value their direct and indirect impacts and dependencies on natural capital. The Protocol was released on July 13th 2016, available to all under a Global Commons license.

The Protocol harmonizes the many different natural capital approaches, and guides businesses towards the information that they need in order to generate, trusted, credible and actionable information around natural capital impacts and dependencies.

The Protocol has been through a rigorous piloting and consultation process, with over 50 piloting companies and 3,200 comments submitted during consultation from over 450 organizations, in 22 countries, and spanning six continents. Now that the Protocol has been released, the Natural Capital Coalition will be introducing thousands of professionals to the benefits that a natural capital approach can have for them and their organizations. We will also be launching the Natural Capital Protocol Application Program, which will provide support for those organizations who wish to apply the Protocol. A third sector guide for finance is also under development and will build the bridge between the engine of business and its fuel, finance.

As a part of The Rockefeller Foundation’s Revalue Ecosystems portfolio, the Natural Capital Coalition is not only helping to standardize the approach that businesses take to natural capital, it is also building a bridge between the finance and business communities with the development of a financial sector guide. Partnering with the Natural Capital Declaration (NCD), the guide will provide a high level framework that enables all financial institutions to understand and identify natural capital in their portfolios.

If you wish to learn more about the Natural Capital Coalition, the Natural Capital Protocol, and how you can collaborate with other leading organizations, please contact

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