User Register / Login

This Is Natural Capital 2018: Natural Capital Coalition: What Makes A Good Case Study?

November 28, 2018 |

Rosie Dunscombe, Technical Director, Natural Capital Coalition

When we speak with businesses and governments about the many benefits of taking a natural capital approach, many invariably ask us to ‘show them the evidence’. Often, what they are really saying is ‘where are the case studies?’

There is a huge body of fantastic work out there, but sometimes an organization’s focus on the technical aspects of a case study can overshadow the need to frame and communicate their work effectively. This can unintentionally conceal persuasive applications from curious decision makers, as well as more general audiences.

So here are two tips to make your case study credible:

Firstly, the starting point is key. Assessments that are clearly connected to core business models or that have arisen from genuine business challenges will be viewed as most sincere.

While planting a wildflower meadow is very nice, it’s a largely insignificant exercise if you’re an ocean shipping company, and may be viewed either as a ‘sustainability bolt on’, or even a cynical exercise in promotion or reputation management.

If however, as a farmer, you can show that designating productive land to pollinator habitat (wildflower meadows) will increase yields, or provide cultural and recreational benefits to local communities, this is a far more compelling narrative.

Case studies of this nature also provide a model that will be of interest to similar organizations who may wish to emulate or build on your work, and so can position you as industry leaders. This type of assessment is significantly more likely to drive outcomes that are actually businessrelevant and integrated into strategy and operations.

A second key feature of a credible case study is transparency surrounding the studies’ limitations, failures, or negative impacts identified as part of the study. Case studies that paint all aspects of your operations in an excessively positive light are likely to breed suspicion and potentially backfire, while transparency breeds trust.

Read the full report here.

Benefit from the Coalition’s unique overview of the capitals approach and community, gain insights into the latest thinking and developments and receive newsletters and project updates.