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Combining Forces on Natural Capital

Business and government cooperation is essential to protect and enhance the world’s natural capital. The Combining Forces initiative seeks to aggregate these efforts.

Introduction from Carl Obst (2017)

Cooperation between the public and private sectors is essential to change the system and deliver a sustainable future for all. While it’s true that businesses and governments often have different aims when it comes to natural capital approaches and capture different kinds of information, it’s clear that the work undertaken by governments can be hugely useful to that of businesses, and vice versa.

The public sector approach applies the UN SEEA (United Nations System of Environmental-Economic Accounting) framework, whilst the overarching framework for the private sector is the Natural Capital Protocol. 

There are substantial opportunities for the concepts, definitions and measurement approaches of the SEEA framework to inform discussion for businesses and industries, and for the Natural Capital Protocol to inform discussion among governments. Combining Forces ensures that public and private sector approaches and data are relevant and applicable in decision-making across all sectors.

To connect the sectors and aggregate efforts, we worked with experts from the SEEA community to establish the Combining Forces initiative in 2017. The objective of Combining Forces is to foster a greater mutual understanding of different approaches to the assessment of natural capital and to combine efforts towards the greater aim of ensuring that nature is accounted for and included in decision-making. 

At the core of the Combining Forces approach is the belief that single and disparate voices on natural capital will not be sufficient to make systemic changes in decision-making.

What next?

We will continue to host the dialogue between experts from the public and private sectors. We’re now working closely with governmental statistical departments given the standardization of the latest SEEA framework. We also intend to implement case studies and develop an inventory to highlight how public and private activity be better harmonized.

In the future, we will explore how we can extend public-private collaboration from creating accounts to applying them to inform policy decisions and adapt incentive mechanisms by using government data for business applications.


24 organisations have pledged their support for the initiative and are signatories to the Combining Forces Joint Statement. If your organization is interested in joining this collaboration, please express your interest here.

  • International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) 
  • International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
  • Natural Capital Finance Alliance
  • Office for National Statistics (ONS)
  • PwC
  • Sustain Value
  • United Nations Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC)
  • University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)
  • UN Statistics Division (UNSD)
  • Wealth Account and the Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES)
  • World Bank Group
  • World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)
  • WWF-UK



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