The following blog is written by Thomas Maddox, Natural Capital Hub Co-manager, Cambridge Conservation Initiative (project team member for the CCI Collaborative Fund project 'Bringing biodiversity into the heart of natural capital approaches')
The end of November 2018 in Paris was marked by the inaugural ‘Natural capital week’ – a loosely coordinated series of events related to the idea of nature as an economic resource. Attended by over 1000 people from around the world the events covered national level accounting for nature, business level accounting for nature and finance sector approaches to integrating nature into investment decisions. As if to highlight the challenges around nature and economics, the meetings featured some of the French government’s progress on environmental legislation and French businesses’ commitments to the environment, yet were topped and tailed by violent protests in Paris against environmental taxes.
The CCI partners see natural capital approaches as an important way of highlighting values of nature in decisions where they currently go unvalued but are concerned that the values of biodiversity may still be missed. The project to address this - Bringing biodiversity into the heart of natural capital approaches [hyperlink to project] - was featured at multiple meetings during the week. Hearteningly, the meetings in Paris revealed a shift in perception on the inclusion of biodiversity in natural capital approaches; having promulgated this message for several years now, it seems others are now starting to agree. At the Natural Capital Policy Forum, half the agenda was devoted to the challenges of accounting for biodiversity at the national level, and at the Natural Capital Coalition day, when the largely business audience was asked where they expected to be focusing over the next year, ‘biodiversity’ was where the overwhelming focus now lies.
The CCI project has been focusing on determining what the key barriers and needs are for incorporating biodiversity into a natural capital assessment. Having spoken to nearly 450 people representing business, civil society, finance and academia across 12 workshops held in Europe, Asia, Australia, US and the Middle East the project identified eight primary areas of need across three categories:
Better understanding of why biodiversity should be integrated more effectively
1. Clarity of definitions and links between biodiversity and natural capital
2. Understanding of how biodiversity is a material business issue
3. Communications and engagement
Better guidance on how companies can integrate biodiversity
5.Improved tools to better meet business needs
6.Better access to appropriate data
Better enabling environment for promoting biodiversity integration
7.Enhanced in-house capacity
8.An improved enabling environment
Based on these, a plan for a set of guidance notes to the Natural Capital Protocol has been developed to help companies through needs 1-6, informing them on why additional effort is required if biodiversity values are to be captured and how this might be achieved using existing tools, methods and data sources. Development of the guidance notes will be a consultative process through the Natural Capital Coalition with the first results due in the first quarter of 2019.
For more information on the CCI Collaborative Fund project, please visit the project page.