Ensia

What Is Natural Capital, Anyway?

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Courtesy of Ensia

Wikipedia defines natural capital as “the stock of natural ecosystems that yields a flow of valuable ecosystem goods or services into the future” — a definition that’s begging to be translated into plain English.

In this easy-to-comprehend, and at times hilarious, video from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, we learn that natural capital is “all the value that nature provides for us.”

The narrator explains how a range of nature’s services — air, land, water, energy, etc. — all conspire to provide us with a simple pair of leather shoes.

Why is natural capital so important?

A report released last year by the Natural Capital Coalition (formerly TEEB for Business Coalition) estimated that the top 100 environmental externalities — such as climate change-associated impacts, loss of natural resources and reduction in nature’s carbon storage — cost the global economy $4.7 trillion per year.

This message is driven home at the end of the video when the narrator encourages fellow business leaders to ask, “What does nature provide your business? And shouldn’t it be on your balance sheet?”

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