Developing a Framework for Natural Capital Accounting in Business

By Dorothy Maxwell
Monday 25 November 2013

Natural Capital Coalition

The Natural Capital Coalition announced a milestone project at the Responsible Business Forum in Singapore to develop a harmonised framework for valuing natural capital in business decision making. Project funding is provided by IFC, a member of the World Bank Group.

The Natural Capital Coalition, IFC and Coalition members announced the landmark project to develop and pilot test a harmonised framework for valuing natural capital in business decision making e.g. supply chain management, financial accounting, corporate reporting and disclosure. Businesses and investors are encouraged to participate in this milestone project. The focus will be particularly on business sectors and supply chains with high natural capital impacts including agricultural commodities, forestry, fisheries, energy, mining, construction and consumer goods. Two sector guides for agricultural commodities used in food/beverage and consumer goods e.g. apparel will also be developed. The project will build on existing methods, fill the gaps and enable a period of experimentation in the market via different sectors and geographies. This will enable lessons to be learned and a practical, scalable approach for business to be developed. It is anticipated that the resulting framework would be the precursor to future standards.

At the launch Dr. Dorothy Maxwell, Executive Director of Natural Capital Coalition said

  For businesses to be viable in the long term the ecosystems and resources they depend on must be maintained, yet when it comes to the natural environment the world is seeing a rapid depletion of capital.

She explained,

  Economic invisibility has been a major reason for the neglect of natural capital. The current business model creates significant environmental externalities that are not priced such as damages from climate change, pollution, land conversion and depletion of natural resources. As a result, there is a growing case for understanding the dependencies business has on natural capital, the risks and opportunities associated with this relationship and their real value.

The project was launched at the Responsible Business Forum on Sustainable Development , organised by Global Initiatives and held in partnership with Natural Capital Coalition, WBCSD, and WWF. This brought together global sustainability leaders and experts from companies and organisations including WBCSD, Unilever, Levis, IFC, World Bank, The Sustainability Consortium, The Corporate Eco Forum, The Nature Conservancy, Ministry of Environment & Water Resources, ABB, Veolia Water, Autodesk, FMO Development Bank, National Australia Bank, Cargill, DNV, Aviva, Ricoh, The Forest Stewardship Council, City Developments, Monsanto, International Integrated Reporting Council, Global Reporting Initiative, The Prince of Wales’s Accounting for Sustainability Project , Ernst & Young and professional accounting bodies Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales, Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and CPA Australia, UNEP-FI, Conservation International, Aecom, Wilmar, BSR, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Trucost, Carbon Disclosure Project and many more. More than 500 delegates discussed and propose recommendations to increase sustainability across six sectors – agriculture & forestry, palm oil, consumer goods, financial services, building & urban infrastructure and energy.

Tony Gourlay, CEO Global Initiatives, Peter Holmgren, Director General, CIFOR, Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister of Environment and Water Resources Singapore, Dr. Dorothy Maxwell, Executive Director Natural Capital Coalition, Usha Rao-Monari, Director Sustainable Business Advisory, IFC

For further information see:

Press Release

Natural Capital Protocol Project

Responsible Business Forum Summit