SHORT INFO: Natural Capital Day

What’s it about in short: Miles King writes about Nat­ural Cap­i­tal day at the Green Alliance and the related report (called Nat­ural Part­ners) and debate.

When was it released: Jan­u­ary 27, 2016

By whom: Miles King, a new nature blog

More info:

Short extract:

Mon­day was Nat­ural Cap­i­tal day at the Green Alliance. They pro­duced a report called Nat­ural Part­ners, in which they sought to explain that Nat­ural Cap­i­tal­ists and Nature Con­ser­va­tion­ists could get along fine, instead of bick­er­ing. On the same day, they held a Nat­ural Cap­i­tal debate in Lon­don, which I went along to. There was a very good turnout.


But my fear is that a head­long drive towards Nat­ural Cap­i­tal fram­ing will cre­ate a global mar­ket in nat­ural cap­i­tal cred­its and debts. What would hap­pen? The cre­ation of nat­ural cap­i­tal off­shoring – akin to cor­po­rate tax avoid­ance. Com­pa­nies would set up sub­sidiaries in nat­ural cap­i­tal havens, where the “deb­its” would accrue with­out penalty. Nat­ural Cap­i­tal cred­its would be accounted for in those coun­tries which required it (through reg­u­la­tion or “best prac­tice”). Cre­ate a global mar­ket in nat­ural cap­i­tal and you cre­ate an oppor­tu­nity for Nat­ural Cap­i­tal flight to the coun­try with the weak­est eth­i­cal frame­work (or none at all).

The report con­cluded, wisely, that “only in rare cir­cum­stances could a Nat­ural cap­i­tal approach lead pri­vate invest­ment into restora­tion of lost or degraded ecosys­tems” but, intrigu­ingly sug­gested that it may work best in the sphere of pro­duc­tive land-use.

The debate was quite inter­est­ing – I though Pro­fes­sor Georgina Mace spoke the most sense, urg­ing great cau­tion with how Nat­ural Cap­i­tal may end up not only deliv­er­ing noth­ing new, but pro­vid­ing a jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for busi­ness as usual to con­tinue. Prof Mace made a heart­felt plea that Nat­ural Cap­i­tal approaches could work but was clearly doubt­ful whether they would. Mace also pointed out that a Nat­ural Cap­i­tal approach has to recog­nise that there will be win­ners and losers – and that dis­par­i­ties may func­tion between dif­fer­ent sec­tions of soci­ety, across dif­fer­ent loca­tions, and at dif­fer­ent points in time – eg future gen­er­a­tions may pay the cost of our inabil­ity to pro­tect stocks of nat­ural cap­i­tal now.

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