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Are We Entering the “Natural Capital Era”?

December 09, 2016 |


This article was originally published on The Pinero Group LLC

“We are on the threshold of the next era in terms of how we characterize the way we live as a society and operate our economies. Whereas we are familiar with the industrial and technology eras or revolutions, as they are sometimes called, we are now coming of age into the natural capital era. Understandably, there are various definitions for a “revolution” or “era” in this context, but in any case, we are seeing a seismic shift in how we view and use natural capital and ecosystem services although the concept has been around for a long time. For this discussion, I will use natural capital as a comprehensive term that includes ecosystem services.

I contend that there are three characteristics regarding what is happening now around natural capital that indicates we are entering this era. These characteristics are growing awareness, establishing the “rules of the game”, and making the business case for economic and societal integration. It is the fact that we are seeing significant activity in all three of these areas simultaneously that is the telltale indication of our entering the natural capital era…

First, as to growing awareness, we are seeing a flourishing of conferences, papers, courses, and general outreach on the topic. Ranging from postings of very introductory concepts to highly technical and involved dialogues, the topic of natural capital and ecosystem services seem to be everywhere. And not only as standalone discussions, but also as integral topics within other discussions. The recent World Congress of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and the Sustainable Brands Conference had natural capital themes cross cutting many of the sessions. The point here is that affected stakeholders, and society as a whole, are becoming more aware of the concept of natural capital.

Second, is establishing the “rules of the game”. A great and recent example of this is the Natural Capital Protocol developed by the Natural Capital Coalition. In order for the concepts to have consequential impact, there needs to be some degree of understood and accepted principles and protocols. Absent this, uptake is anecdotal and inconsistent. This does not necessarily mean regulations, requirements, or rules. Instead, these are general practices and principles that are somewhat universally recognized. The growing compendium of green infrastructure approaches is another example of establishing recognized best practices…”

Read on at: The Pinero Group LLC.

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