Most businesses still don’t fully understand their dependency on the natural environment. James Borrell, NERC Policy Fellow with the Natural Capital Initiative, read Dr Dorothy Maxwell’s new guide that takes on the challenge to explain current thinking on natural capital to business leaders, and calls the C-Suite to action.
“Companies that will succeed in the long-term are integrating natural and social capital into their business model now.”
Either way, it is a short but powerful introduction to natural capital in business, laced throughout with view from leading CFOs, CEOs and Heads of Sustainability.
It aims to answer three main questions: What is natural capital, what is the business case for using it and how does accounting for natural capital fit into existing financial toolboxes. This is rounded off by exploring real life examples of ‘early adopters’.
Numerous memorable comments throughout this book will strike a chord with forward thinking businesses. Such as “If we see the benefits of nature as incalculable, then they will be treated as free” and “Companies that act now to internalise natural capital, will future-proof themselves and are best positioned to manage and thrive in a resource constrained world.”
Early adopters are proudly highlighted too, such as Dow, The Crown Estate, Patagonia, Marks & Spencer and more.
One of the most compelling case studies is a decision by the Dow Chemical Company in 2013. Using a Replacement Cost Methodology they identified savings of $282 million in constructing an artificial wetland as opposed to building a sequencing batch reactor. The added benefits included lower fossil fuel use as well as reduced acidification, smog formation and ozone depletion over the project lifetime. This demonstrates that green infrastructure can benefit the environment and provide a cost saving.
Maxwell finishes the book by exploring the challenges that lie ahead, from shifting the collective business mind-set to concerns over the growing monetization of nature.
These can be addressed and must be if we are to bring valuation of natural capital into the mainstream. The publication of this book is surely a step in the right direction.
More about the book on the publisher’s website here.