Biodiversity constitutes the living component of natural capital, but is extremely difficult to fully value. While often perceived as simply representing exotic or endangered species, biodiversity includes all living things, from genes through species and populations to ecosystems. It is the interactions within and between biodiversity and non-living resources that generate many of the benefits that flow from natural capital. The interactions that generate these benefits are vast, complex and often poorly understood.
Sometimes values can be attributed – for example for the role a specific insect species has in pollinating a crop, or the role a forest ecosystem may have in watershed maintenance – but many values, particularly those related to underlying ecosystem function, resilience to change or the ‘intrinsic’ values of nature, tend to be hidden or missing altogether.
When the draft of the Natural Capital Protocol was released for public consultation, over 100 comments focused on the need to address biodiversity differently.
When it comes to valuing the natural world, biodiversity has always been a thorny issue. It is a key component of natural capital ‘stock’ and it is the interactions between biodiversity and non-living natural capital that generates many of the ‘flows’ that benefit society. However, when it comes to quantifying these values, biodiversity is often a major challenge.
In recognition of these challenges, the Coalition launched a new project to strengthen the way biodiversity is covered in the Protocol.
The Coalition is running this project in collaboration with the Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI), a collaboration between the University of Cambridge and leading biodiversity-focused conservation organisations, to address this challenge. Working as the focal point of research and advice on biodiversity issues for the Coalition, CCI will build a cohort of experts who can act as change agents to define, develop and ultimately deliver more robust, biodiversity-inclusive natural capital assessments.
As with all Coalition projects, this project will be collaborative and involve the diverse range of interests and expertise that already exist in this field within business, government, conservation, science and academia, finance and standard setting. It will agree on the key challenges and produce practical solutions.
If you are interested in getting involved there are several levels of engagement:
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This project is supported by the European Union (EC, DG Environment), CCI and the EU Business @ Biodiversity Platform.