The World Forum on Natural Capital states that: “Natural Capital can be defined as the world’s stocks of natural assets which include geology, soil, air, water and all living things.”
Fig. 1, courtesy of Metro Vancouver Regional Planning, shows Natural Capital with 4 main components. Ecological services Support us e.g. soil; Provision us e.g. food and oxygen; provide Cultural opportunities e.g. beauty and Regulate e.g. flood control. Nature’s services are fundamental to our existence.
For some time, environmentalists have argued that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) does not well represent a nation’s well-being and perpetuates the notion of continuous growth. The World Economic Forum (WEP) agrees. It asserted “one quick fix is to adopt a measure like median income per capita,…” A more ambitious measure is “natural capital,” based on a country’s ecosystems, fish stocks, minerals, and other natural assets. …” (Fortune, Oct 2019).
A natural capital approach also supports the importance of a circular economy.
Natural Capital is a good way to look at the environment in context. A natural capital perspective (rights of nature) promotes nature to that of being all encompassing, Fig. 2 (theecologist.org), as opposed to the traditional Venn diagram view of the triple bottom line.
Natural Capital is ultimately more important than Financial and Social Capital. Most economic activity is directly dependent upon Natural Capital. Human health, wealth, culture, identity and happiness depend on nature; often complex and little understood. The air we breathe is renewed on this planet due to plant and algal processes. Other planets have actually lost their life-giving oxygen. Simply put: our green spaces give us life.
Decisions makers – individuals, organization and business should look at the downstream resource requirements of decisions, not just current requirements. You wouldn’t buy a house if you could afford the mortgage but not the taxes.
Sector Co-Chairs –
Spring 2021 … a time of renewal that has happily been gentler and earlier. The season always brings a burst of energy, heightened this year
A new study, published in Nature Food and conducted by researchers from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the European Commission’s Joint Research