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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

Wheat poppies

The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) has developed and piloted a new Natural Capital Protocol with the Natural Capital Coalition. It has led the Protocol Application Program for the Coalition to encourage uptake of the Protocol.

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.

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 Impact Group 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 were also 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.


Protocol Application Program

A number of leading businesses recently completed case studies, demonstrating how they have applied the Natural Capital Protocol to make a natural capital assessment. Remarkable outcomes have been achieved in a number of areas, with companies completing 'Scoping', 'Measure & Value' and 'Apply' stages depending on their business needs. Case studies such as these provide an opportunity not only to demonstrate where businesses have made progress, but also to share advice and insight to inform and influence others in their sector.

AkzoNobel Dow Chemical Company Jaguar landrover
Natura Novartis Roche
Skanska Tata logo YorkshireWater


What’s next? Helping businesses operationalise natural capital.