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Natural capital

Natural capital is a way of thinking about the natural resources on which our economy depends. On this page you can find links to research, guidance and organisations supporting the effective management of natural capital.

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Featured article

Measuring natural capital
Looks at the importance of a natural capital accounting system and explores the role of natural capital within the comprehensive wealth framework.

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Featured link

Natural capital protocol
A framework developed by the Natural Capital Coalition to help businesses make thoughtful decisions about the natural resources they work with.

ICAEW

Accountability: from decision-making to disclosure
ICAEW article explaining natural capital accounting and the capitals approach.

Accounting for capital: natural, social and human
Every business decision should be informed by the value of natural, social and human capital, argues Mark Gough, Chief Executive Officer of the Capitals Coalition. Article published in February 2020.

Who should value nature?
2014 paper by Dario Kenner for ICAEW's Sustainable Business Initiative, examining the question of responsibility for the valuation of natural assets.

Quantifying natural and social capital
2015 paper by Adrian Henriques for ICAEW's Sustainable Business Initiative, looking at the different types of accounting and the ways in which they can incorporate natural capital.

Online articles

The Library provides access to leading business, finance and management journals. These journals are available to logged-in ICAEW members, ACA students and other entitled users subject to suppliers' terms of use.

UK says nature contributes $17 billion (£12bn) to tourism spending

The UK is conducting new research aiming to set out Britain's 'natural capital accounts', with the Office for National Statistics drawing up natural capital accounts across the economy.

Lombard Odier launches $400m natural capital equity fund

A new fund to invest in companies that seek to harness the power of nature using 'circular bioeconomy' has been launched by the asset management firm Lombard Odier.

Investing in our future should be natural

UK landowners and developers have been actively considering the future management of their land and the natural capital value their assets hold.

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Articles are available to logged-in ICAEW members, ACA students and other entitled users.

Useful links

Natural Capital Coalition
A coalition of over 200 organisations working to build a business culture that conserves and enhances natural capital. ICAEW is a founding member of the NCC and is represented on its board and advisory group.
The NCC website includes the Natural Capital Protocol, which offers business managers a standardised framework to identify and value natural capital.

GOV.UK

Natural Capital Committee
An independent committee advising the government on sustainable use of natural assets and their derivative products. The webpage includes the minutes of committee meetings and an archive of its publications and research.

Developing corporate natural capital accounts
Practical guidelines for preparing a corporate natural capital account. Prepared by Eftec, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and PwC for the Natural Capital Committee in 2015. Intended for organisations that have a natural capital 'stewardship' role.

Natural capital accounts 2018-19
Forest Enterprise England was the first body to create an organisation-wide natural capital account.

Other

Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Research
CISL is a research institution based at the University of Cambridge that aims to "build leadership capacity to tackle critical global challenges". It created the Natural Capital Impact Group to help businesses understand and then mitigate their impacts upon natural capital.

Capitals Coalition
The Capitals Coalition was formed in 2020, to unite the Natural Capital Coalition and the Social & Human Capital Coalition. The new Capitals Coalition aims to work collaboratively to ensure that the value that flows from nature, society and people - as well as the economy - collectively informs public and private sector decision making.

Natural Capital Initiative
A collaboration between the Royal Society of Biology, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the British Ecological Society and the James Hutton Institute. The Initiative's work and research is dedicated to the sustainable management of natural capital.

Natural Capital Project
A partnership between Stanford University, the University of Minnesota, the Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund. The Project works to build solutions to environmental problems.

Reports

Accounting for natural capital: the elephant in the boardroom
Research paper from CIMA concentrating on the business risk posed by the depletion of natural resources, with examples of some companies working to counteract this. Published in 2014.

How to do it: A natural capital workbook
A Natural Capital Committee practical guide, aimed at anyone who wants to use natural capital approaches in making decisions about the natural environment, including planners, communities and landowners. Published in 2017.

IFAC Knowledge Gateway - Sustainability
The International Federation of Accountants maintain this gateway with discussions, resources and news on sustainability topics.

ISO14008: Monetary valuation of environmental impacts from specific emissions and use of natural resources
An ongoing project to develop a new formal standard for the measurement of natural capital.

Material resources, productivity and the environment
Research publication from the OECD that details the nature and role of major natural commodities in the global economy.

Natural and Social Capital accounting
A guide for finance teams looking to make natural capital accounting part of their decision-making process.

Natural capital at risk: the top 100 externalities of business
Research conducted by trucost.com modelling the financial risk from uncounted natural capital costs. Requires free registration to view.

Natural capital and the accountancy profession
ACCA paper focusing on the role the profession has to play in accounting for natural capital. Published in 2015.

Articles and books in the Library collection

Selected articles and books

Click on the links below for more information on these titles.

Natural capital: valuing the planet
(Yale University Press, 2015)
Strategies for establishing a natural capital policy that is balanced, economically sustainable and politically viable.

Valuing natural capital: future proofing business and finance
(Greenleaf Publishing, 2015)
A business argument for incorporating natural capital into financial calculations, with case studies from government and industry.

What price the priceless?
(The Accountant, Nov 2013)
Looks at how natural capital accounting can highlight the impact of business activities on the natural world.

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