International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)

Natural Capital Protocol Launched


Representatives from over 160 organizations launched the Natural Capital Protocol, which harmonizes existing work on natural capital into a standardized framework to support businesses' ability to identify, measure and value their impacts and dependencies on natural capital.

Launched in London, UK, on 13 July 2016, the Protocol was created under the auspices of the Natural Capital Coalition.

The Protocol aims to change the way that businesses evaluate their operations and take decisions with a view to reducing pollution, protecting biodiversity, and limiting climate change, while safeguarding profits, operations and sustainability. It seeks to increase businesses' understanding of their relationships with nature, and support companies' efforts to generate 'trusted, credible and actionable' information to make decisions that benefit them, society and the environment.

The Natural Capital Protocol brings the public and private sectors together under voluntary contracts. Its framework details four stages of 'why, what, how and what next,' and breaks them down into nine steps to be taken when carrying out a natural capital assessment, and when integrating natural capital into business processes. The steps are: getting started; defining the objective; scoping the assessment; determining the impacts and/or dependencies; measuring impact drivers and/or dependencies; measuring changes in the state of natural capital; valuing impacts and/or dependencies; interpreting and testing results; and taking action. The Protocol also enables users to adjust and adapt their approach as they move through the framework.

Inger Andersen, Director General, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a member of the Natural Capital Coalition, called the Protocol a 'potential game changer' in the way businesses operate, and said that it will be introduced at the IUCN World Conservation Congress, convening in September 2016, in Hawai'i, US.

Thirty-eight organizations formed the Protocol's development team, and over 450 provided input. Over 50 businesses piloted the Protocol, including Dow, Shell, the Coca-Cola Company and Nespresso. [IUCN Press Release] [Natural Capital Protocol Webpage] [Natural Capital Protocol Endorsement Statement]

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