First Natural Capital Protocol launched as standardized framework for business

Protocol brings together environmental strands of climate, water, energy, biodiversity and waste

Representatives from over 160 of the world’s leading organizations, spanning business, finance, accounting, conservation, academia, and policy got together in London today (July 13) to launch the first global Natural Capital Protocol.

It claims to be a standardized framework designed to generate “trusted, credible, and actionable information” that business managers need to make truly informed decisions. The term “natural capital” brings together the environmental strands of climate, water, energy, biodiversity and waste into a uniform strategic approach.

The Protocol, formed by 38 organisations with input from more than 450, is freely available under a Creative Commons license. Firms such Dow, Shell, Coca-Cola and Nestle piloted the protocol and it’s claimed that are “many more lining up” to apply it.

“The days of defining business success by financial metrics alone are over,” said Peter Bakker, CEO of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), which led the development of the protocol. He continued: “As we move to fulfil the Paris Agreement and achieve the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), business will need to take an holistic view and start including information on natural and social capital in the definition of performance.”

It is hoped that if it is adopted at scale it could revolutionize the way companies evaluate their operations and make decisions.Richard Mattison, CEO at environmental data group Trucost, called it the “most groundbreaking standard for decades” in a tweet.

“The days of defining business success by financial metrics alone are over”

Michael Izza, CEO of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), which was involved in the project, said: “How we preserve the capital stock of nature is the most important question we face today; without nature there is nothing. The Accountancy Profession has a huge role to play in this endeavour.” The Coalition is hosted by ICAEW.

Alongside the launch of the Protocol, the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability (CISL) has released a report called Operationalising natural capital. Developed by the Natural Capital Leaders Platform, it is intended to provide an overview of the “state of play” of the area.

Work on the Natural Capital Protocol was helped by funding from:

• Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
IFC with the support of the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Netherlands;
• The Rockefeller Foundation;
• United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
• UK Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).