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Natural Capital Protocol

The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) has been developing and piloting a new Natural Capital Protocol with the Natural Capital Coalition. The global launch of the Protocol takes place on 13 July 2016.

Natural Capital Coalition

Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership is a key partner in helping the Natural Capital Coalition to deliver the Natural Capital Protocol.

The Natural Capital Protocol helps businesses to understand their relationships with natural resources, and how these resources form the foundation of thriving societies and prosperous economic activities. Developed in a unique collaborative effort between 38 organisations with input from hundreds more during piloting and consultation - the Protocol provides a standardised framework for businesses to identify, measure and value their direct and indirect impacts and dependencies on natural capital.

Over the last 18 months, CISL managed and led the Pilot Testing Programme which included over 50 companies pilot testing the Protocol to ensure it is robust, practical and relevant for business. Working closely with the companies, CISL was able to collect feedback that informed the development of the Protocol. CISL’s expertise in natural resource evaluation has contributed significantly to the success of the process.

CISL is working with the members of the Natural Capital Leaders Platform to explore operationalising natural capital. Read the report here.

There are many different approaches to natural capital assessments. The lack of a standard or framework to make sense of the market has made scaling solutions challenging, especially in business where performance must be measured against agreed standards. By providing a standardised framework, the Protocol harmonises the many different natural capital approaches, and guides businesses towards the information that they need in order to generate, trusted, credible and actionable information around natural capital impacts and dependencies.  

Alongside the launch of the Natural Capital Protocol, two additional sector guides on food & beverage and apparel will also be released. The sector guides work as extensions of the Protocol, and guide practitioners through sector-specific challenges and opportunities.

The Protocol has been through a rigorous piloting and consultation process, with over 50 piloting companies led by CISL and 3,200 comments submitted during consultation from over 450 organisations, in 22 countries, and spanning six continents. This phase included ten businesses who have tested the Protocol in depth, including The Coca-Cola Company, The Dow Chemical Company, F. Hoffmann-La Roche, Hugo Boss, Kering, Natura, Nespresso, Nestlé, Olam International and Shell. Each company tested the Protocol against specific business applications to ensure it is applicable and relevant to the private sector.

View the Natural Capital Protocol.

Read about the Platform’s work on valuing natural resources in business.

What’s next? Helping businesses operationalise natural capital.


Gemma Cranston, Acting Director, Natural Resource Security Portfolio

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