Data Information Flow

Why is this work important? 

Natural capital assessments are increasingly being used by businesses in corporate financial, risk and environmental management processes.  However, there are currently a number of ‘data barriers’ to effective natural capital assessment and decision making in the private sector. The Natural Capital Coalition, UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) and partners are working with businesses to address these data barriers and facilitate more robust and sophisticated analysis of corporate risk and opportunity through natural capital assessments.

Feedback from the private sector, including the 50+ businesses who piloted the Natural Capital Protocol, indicated that the lack of ready access to robust data for decision making was often a barrier for businesses who wish to understand and manage their impacts and dependence on natural capital.

Addressing Data Barriers: The Project Approach

The Natural Capital Coalition and UNEP-WCMC are working with a broad range of partners to develop a project that will bring together data users, data providers, data funders and academics to explore key data questions over four project phases (Fig. 1).

After exploring the data challenges facing those using natural capital assessments for business decisions, we will develop guidance on how to overcome these challenges, whilst building the capacity of natural capital data providers to better meet the needs of business.

Phase 1:

In Phase 1, project partners worked collaboratively with a range of identified stakeholders to:

  • Identify common barriers that limit the use of data in natural capital assessments.
  • Build consensus around potential innovations and solutions.

Importantly this project identified that the overarching challenge is not the absence of data, but the absence of flow. Information is not flowing effectively between actors across the system. This is a problem underpinned by four elements: accessibility, infrastructure, quality and capacity.

Following Phase 1, data considerations and potential solutions will be integrated into all of the Coalition’s ongoing projects and capacity building activities.

To read a summary of our findings and next steps click here, or find the full report here. We also have a review of the currently available data guidance, outlining the primary user, impact or dependency focus, and challenge addressed which can be found here.