Calculating and valuing nature’s riches: the World Forum on Natural Capital opens

21 November 2013 | News story

Getting politicians and business leaders to value and account for the goods and services provided by nature is the key mission of the World Forum on Natural Capital which opens in Edinburgh, Scotland today.

Natural Capital is the world’s stocks of natural assets including geology, soil, air, water and the millions of species of plants and animals. It provides us with a wide range of services, often called ecosystem services, which make human life possible. These include the provision of food, clean water, plant materials we use for fuel, building materials and medicines.

There are also many less visible ecosystem services such as climate regulation and natural flood defences provided by forests, the billions of tonnes of carbon stored by peatlands, or the pollination of crops by insects.

But amid growing global media interest, there is still a lack of understanding of natural capital among business leaders. The World Forum on Natural Capital, of which IUCN is a co-organiser, will focus on the practical implications.

Attended by delegates from over 30 countries, the event brings together business leaders, environmental experts and government representatives to help identify the value of natural capital and the cost to businesses and society if that capital is depleted.

“The Forum brings together all sectors of society to present their views, concerns and hopes around the concept of natural capital, but also to reconcile the varying views on if and how to value nature," said IUCN Director General Julia Marton-Lefèvre today during the opening Plenary. "Ultimately, it gives us an opportunity to check and, if necessary, to adjust our course to ensure we are driving to the same outcome; towards a sustainable future economy that values and conserves nature."