Integrating Biodiversity into Natural Capital Assessments

A series of Biodiversity Guidance to accompany the Natural Capital Protocol

This Biodiversity Guidance was developed as a companion to the Natural Capital Protocol; enabling businesses to better incorporate biodiversity into natural capital assessments and decision-making.

Why is biodiversity important?

Once considered a separate issue to climate change, biodiversity loss is now regarded as an equally urgent crisis, and its connection to climate adaptation and mitigation are increasingly understood.  Biodiversity builds resilience against climate change, supports communities and livelihoods, and fundamentally underpins our broader society and global economy. Business are beginning to recognise this and are looking for ways to understand the value of their impacts and dependencies on biodiversity.

What is biodiversity and how does it relate to natural capital?

Biodiversity describes the variety of life and is the living component of what can be thought of as natural capital stocks. It plays an important role in the provision of the services we receive from nature. The presence of, and interactions between, natural capital stocks generate a flow of goods and services; these goods and services create value through the benefits they provide to business and society.

Viewing biodiversity through a natural capital lens can help businesses to recognise previously unseen values that underpin all goods and services, providing a clear business case for protection of and investment in the health of biodiversity. It also allows an integrated approach to environmental issues management that recognises the links and synergies between issues such as climate, water, sustainable development, equity and biodiversity.

The Guidance

The Biodiversity Guidance was developed as a stepwise approach to incorporate biodiversity into natural capital assessments. It guides companies through the process of including the value of biodiversity in their natural capital assessments and how to operationalize this information in internal decision making.

The Biodiversity Guidance is applicable to all business sectors, at any geography and any organizational level. It is designed to work in 4 stages, ‘Why’ (Framing Guidance), ‘What’ (Scoping Guidance), ‘How’ (Measure and Value Guidance) and ‘What next’ (Application Guidance).

The Guidance has been designed to closely mirror the Natural Capital Protocol. An overarching Biodiversity Guidance Navigation Tool will also be made available for businesses. Using a series of questions, the Navigation Tool will guide you through the Frame, Scope, Measure and Value, and Apply Stages of the Protocol and Biodiversity Guidance in order to carry out a biodiversity-inclusive natural capital assessment.

The Audience

This Guidance can be applied by all business sectors, including finance and accountancy. It is targeted primarily at managers from operations, finance, sustainability, environment, and health and safety departments.

The Guidance is written for businesses and financial institutions who already recognize the importance of natural capital and wish to ensure their assessments better incorporate the value of biodiversity, as well as businesses and financial institutions who are managing their relationship with biodiversity and want to expand those considerations to a broader natural capital perspective. The Guidance is appropriate for terrestrial, freshwater, and marine systems.

The Guidance also aims to help civil society, government, multi-stakeholder organizations, standard setters, disclosure organizations, and academia to engage with business in support of efforts to embed the value of nature into decision-making.

Guidance development

This Guidance is an output of the Integrating Biodiversity into Natural Capital Assessments project run in collaboration between the Cambridge Conservation Initiative and the Capitals Coalition. The Cambridge Conservation Initiative is the focal point of research and advice on biodiversity issues for the Coalition.

Developing this guidance has been a collaborative effort, with many partners involved in workshops and activities around the world. UNEP-WCMC has led the final stages to formalize this guidance and the Cambridge Conservation Initiative partners that have contributed to this project include:

This project received funding from the European Commission DG Environment under the LIFE Programme through Grant Agreement Number 07.0202/2017/762324/SUB/ENV.D2
This project received funding from the Cambridge Conservation Initiative Collaborative Fund.
This project was supported by the EU Business @ Biodiversity Platform.