Natural capital thinking: how can it help business help nature?

This Green Alliance catalyst debate, on 25 January 2016, asked whether better understanding of nature's economic importance can help to conserve and improve it.


  1. The panel: David Fursdon, chair of Beeswax Farming and chair of the 2013 Future of Farming Review for Defra, Jonathan Hughes, CEO of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, global councillor for the IUCN and co-founder of the World Forum on Natural Capital, Georgina Mace, professor of Biodiversity and Ecosystems and director of the UCL Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research and Duncan Pollard, Nestlé AVP stakeholders engagement in sustainability. Green Alliance policy director, Sue Armstrong Brown, chaired.
  2. Opening the event, Green Alliance's head of sustainable business, William Andrews Tipper, introduced our report, Natural partners: why nature conservation and natural capital approaches should work together.
  3. Sue Armstrong Brown asked each speaker to present their 'one big idea' for natural capital.
  4. Georgina Mace stated that the natural capital approach must ensure valuation is focused on maintaining stocks of natural capital - not flows, and must promote cross sectoral collaboration for a coherent, consistent and comprehensive approach to securing natural capital benefits.
  5. David Fursdon suggested that an education programme which puts farmers at the centre of decision making for their land would result in a better understood and more empathetic scheme.
  6. Duncan Pollard said alignment and collaboration is vital, as every sector has a different role to play. Natural capital valuation must be quantified in terms of it's societal, market, business and abatement values.
  7. Jonathan Hughes argued that a standardised international framework is needed to value natural capital stocks and give businesses the confidence to recognise the risks of not investing and also the opportunities of investing in natural capital. Such a framework (like the Natural Capital Protocol's methodology) would ensure the natural capital approach is consistent, comparable and robust.