Some notes about Natural Capital

Natural capital is an idea whose time has come. It takes the analysis of the environment to a new level - way beyond the conventional sustainability and sustainable development approaches which have dominated in the last couple of decades.

The reasons why natural capital is the way to think about the great environmental challenges we face is because of three characteristics. Natural capital is all about assets – the assets nature provides us with for free; it forces us to see the environment as a (or indeed the) key input into the economy – ending the apartheid between economic growth and protecting and enhancing the environment; and by focussing on capital maintenance, it makes a clear distinction between renewable and non-renewable assets.

The damage to the natural environment accelerated during the twentieth century, and now is already reducing economic growth and development. The threat of climate change is widely understood. Perhaps less so is the destruction of biodiversity and ecosystems – from the loss of the great rainforests to the declines of wild flowers, insects, birds and mammals. As these disappear this century, we will come to realise what we have lost, and how much of our economic well-being depends upon a flourishing natural environment.

To stop the rot, we need to keep the aggregate of natural capital from falling further. Indeed it needs to be improved. Not everything can be preserved, but what is damaged should be compensated for with gains elsewhere. Natural capital needs to be maintained and enhanced. For non-renewables – natural capital that can only be used once (such as oil, gas and minerals) –is a matter of which generation uses it. But when it is depleted there needs to be compensation, and the surplus revenues should be used to protect and enhance renewables  - the natural capital model just keeps on giving, provide we do not deplete it below the critical thresholds.

Natural Capital

Natural Capital
Environment

Natural Capital
Water

Latest Publication

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Who owns the water companies?

July 24, 2018

Water Publication

Who owns the water companies? Are publicly quoted companies better than private equity and infrastructure owned companies? Does it really matter? All sorts of claims are being made, and the merit of the discussion is that it asks very good questions...

Publications

  • Publication Water Water Boarding
    February 14, 2018

    The water industry is in play - with the regulators, and with the politicians. Labour proposes to renationalise the water companies, and the government and the regulators are determined to toughen up the regulation to show that privatisation works for...
  • Video Water Water Boarding
    February 14, 2018

    The water industry is in play - with the regulators, and with the politicians. Labour proposes to renationalise the water companies, and the government and the regulators are determined to toughen up the regulation to show that privatisation works for...
  • Presentation Environment Natural Capital & Sustainable Economic Growth
    May 24, 2017

    Presentation for University of Oxford, Plant Science department
  • Publication Environment Waste Policy - tidying up the mess we are in
    May 18, 2017

    Out-of-sight and out-of-mind could be the motto of waste policy over the last few decades. We have dumped sewerage in our rivers and offshore, rubbish has gone to landfill sites, plastics into the sea and nuclear waste to storage sites. The results are..
  • Presentation Water The Future of Flood Management
    May 17, 2017

    Presentation for Floodex Conference
  • Presentation Environment Natural Capital & Sustainable Growth
    April 17, 2017

    Presentation for Natural Devon
  • Presentation Environment The Natural Capital Approach for National Parks
    April 7, 2017

    Presentation for Exmoor Society
  • Presentation Environment Upland Farm Support after BREXIT
    March 31, 2017

    Presentation for South West Uplands Network
  • Video Environment The Natural Capital Approach
    February 7, 2017

    Presentation for Irish Forum on Natural Capital
  • Presentation Environment The Implications of BREXIT on British Agricultural Policy
    November 24, 2016

    Presentation for Landscapes for Life Conference
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