From companies to communities: IUCN Congress explores natural capital approaches and impacts

From the health and spiritual benefits derived from nature to the many services it provides, delegates attending the IUCN World Conservation Congress taking place from 1-10 September 2016, in Hawai’i, will explore how valuing the earth’s natural resources – its rivers, forests, oceans, deserts and wetlands – impact conservation and people.

Mangroves Photo: IUCN-Imene Meliana

Valuing and conserving nature is at the heart of IUCN's mission, and it will be a priority theme throughout the IUCN Congress.   During the Congress Forum from 2-5 September, there will be numerous sessions related to natural capital, as well as a debate on a motion concerning the organisation’s future policy on natural capital in the Members’ Assembly from 6-10 September.

The IUCN motion calls on the Director General to establish an inter-disciplinary and multi-sectoral working group to develop an IUCN policy on natural capital.  However, the challenge, as the motion recognises, is IUCN is already involved in several natural capital initiatives, such as the development of the Natural Capital Protocol for business, and the Natural Capital Declaration project to integrate natural assets into the financial sector.   

Therefore, to inform the discourse, several sessions will be held with IUCN Members and partners during the public Forum.

On 2 September, the Natural Capital Coalition, of which IUCN is a founding member, will unveil its recently launched Natural Capital Protocol to delegates.  During the session, participants will have an opportunity to sign an open letter of support for the Protocol that urges business everywhere to enhance their understanding of nature.  The new Protocol builds on and harmonises a number of existing approaches with the aim of helping business identify, measure and value their direct and indirect impacts and dependencies on natural capital, so they can make more informed decisions.  

“The Natural Capital Protocol has the potential to be a game changer for conservation and business.  The next challenge will be determining how best government and civil society can support the uptake of this new tool within a sustainable development context,” said IUCN Global Business and Biodiversity Director Gerard Bos.  About 450 organisations provided input into the development of the Protocol, including more than 50 leading companies who piloted the draft version. The piloting programme included the Coca-Cola Company, Dow, Kering, Hugo Boss, Interface, Nespresso, Nestle, Olam, Shell and Yorkshire Water.

Mark Gough, Executive Director of the Coalition, added: “Now that we have a standardized framework, it is time for action.”

On 3 September, the Natural Capital Project and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) will run a training session on Natural Capital in Practice: Approaches, Tools, and the Natural Capital Protocol to understand how such frameworks can be adapted for different users, whether they are in business, government or civil society.

Another session, on 4 September, aims to explore the impacts of natural capital valuation and accounting practices on local people’s rights to resources, cultural diversity, decision-making and governance, and environmental conflict.  Led by the IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP), the workshop, Matters of value: Natural capital, cultural diversity, governance and right, will highlight the different perspectives and concerns associated with placing monetary value on nature.  

Then, on 5 September, Making natural capital accounting approaches work for conservation: creating the enabling environment to up-scale the use of the Natural Capital Protocol will feature a range of case studies from Tata Power, the Ecosystem Values Assessment & Accounting Project in Peru and the Ministry of Economic Affairs in the Netherlands.

Also on 5 September, a session on “National Capital Approaches: Identifying Common Ground and Fracture Points,” will be held to inform the development of the IUCN policy on natural capital, which will be decided by the Members’ Assembly.

See more IUCN Congress events on natural capital here

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