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The Capitals Approach: The Natural Capital Protocol and the Sustainable Development Goals

March 21, 2017 |

This article was originally published on UNA-UK

Business has a significant role to play in delivering the SDGs. How can the concept of ‘capitals’ – from natural to intellectual – help the sector to focus its contribution?

“…The Protocol and the SDGs

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an expression of the outcomes that the capitals approach aims to achieve. They represent a single operating system of strong and resilient economies, and fair and just societies, all achieved within what nature can afford. They are a wonderful articulation of how business and economic success depend on, and are innately connected to, social and environmental success. They are a cornerstone of the natural capital business case, and provide the legitimacy that organisations need to motivate and benchmark their progress.

The Protocol provides its users with the tools to ask two key questions:

  • how dependent am I on nature?
  • what impact am I having on its health?

To achieve the SDGs, we will all have to ask ourselves these two fundamental questions. For each SDG, governments, businesses, associations and individuals must ask how dependent we are on the success of that goal (often more than we think) and whether or not our actions are helping to achieve it. These are two powerful questions, because they force us to acknowledge our place in a vastly complex and interdependent system, and recognise that we cannot separate ourselves from global issues.

We also realise that it is not possible to think about natural capital without being drawn into considerations of the other capitals. They are all interconnected: understanding the dependency and impact on one leads you to understand the dependency and impact on others.

The capitals approach, and the Natural Capital Protocol, not only allows organisations to ask themselves these questions, but provides a pathway to the answers. It supplies a standardised framework to identify, measure and value impacts and dependencies on the capitals, bringing them into the decision-making process, and working to deliver on the SDGs…”

Read the full article at: UNA-UK.

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