Companies Place Greater Value on Natural Capital

coffee farm in Chiapas, Mexico

A coffee farm in Chiapas, Mexico. Shade-grown coffee cultivation not only keeps forests standing, it’s more economically and environmentally viable in the long term compared with “sun-grown” plantations. (© Cristina Mittermeier)

Here’s a pop quiz: Do you know what “natural capital” is?

This term — used to describe the resources and services, from timber to pollination to oxygen production, that nature provides all of us — may not have made its way into the lexicon of most dinnertime conversations just yet. Yet businesses are increasingly embracing the fact that protecting and restoring the ecosystems that impact their production is not only essential for the long-term viability of their companies, but for the future of humanity.

Yesterday, Dr. Pavan Sukhdev — a CI board member and environmental economist — published a blog on The Huffington Post on this very topic. The blog is part of a series from The Huffington Post and The B Team, a new initiative that aims to encourage the business sector to become a driving force for the well-being of people and the planet.

In his post, Pavan explains why we need to change the way we assess economic health:

“Today’s one dimensional approach which measures and reports changes to only shareholder owned financial capital in effect prioritises the financial goals of shareholders against a host of other interests of society and the planet. This is not only unsustainable, but also self-defeating: without sufficient social and natural capital, businesses cannot function over time.”

Read the full blog on The Huffington Post.

Molly Bergen is the senior managing editor of Human Nature. 


  1. Rob N says

    This is a point I’ve brought up in discussions with traditional pro-business folks. That without protection of our resources, we wouldn’t have clean water to drink, a fishing industry, a tourism industry, good soil for our farms, etc. That all makes an impact on our bottom lines, even if it’s not easy to measure. You can really see the difference in places like Haiti vs. Dominican Republic with deforestation visible in Google maps.

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