Ambition 2025 - Natural capital

Our ambition: Work to increase awareness of natural capital amongst members, promoting the business benefits and supporting a shift towards integrating natural capital into decision making.

According to the Natural Capital Committee for England, “Natural Capital refers to the elements of nature that produce value (directly and indirectly) to people, such as the stocks of forests, rivers, land, minerals and oceans”.

The most obvious ecosystem services include the food we eat, the water we drink and the plant materials we use for fuel, building materials and medicines. But for many years these dependencies have been taken for granted, with nature often being undervalued and overlooked in decision making. As such, we are over-exploiting our finite natural capital and running the risk of local, regional or even global ecosystem collapse. Businesses that fail to adapt their business models to the economic reality of diminishing resources run the risk of supply chain disruptions and ultimately, dwindling profits.

With no company immune, natural capital is fast becoming a priority business issue, with some of the world's largest companies understanding the profound business imperative for safeguarding natural resources. By understanding how they impact and depend upon natural capital and the risks and/or opportunities associated with these relationships, businesses will be able to tangibly integrate nature into their decision making. There are many tools available to help companies with this process. The Natural Capital Coalition, for example, has developed the world's first Natural Capital Protocol, a standardised framework designed to identify, measure, and value impacts and dependencies on natural capital.

To support a shift towards integrating natural capital in decision making, FDF, with support from external stakeholders, will play an active role to increase awareness of natural capital amongst members, alongside the business benefits for valuing it. FDF will also look to influence the debate and to help achieve this, has signed up as members to the Natural Capital Coalition. We will also look to consult on the Government's long term plan for the environment, of which natural capital is expected to form a core component.

Nestlé case study

Nestlé believe that treating natural capital as a valuable business asset is a key part of what it means to be a sustainable business. As such, they strive to understand and manage their dependencies and impacts on natural capital throughout both their operations and supply chains.

Working with Wild Business, an independent consultancy that specialises in helping businesses engage with the natural environment, Nestlé have begun to roll out a programme of natural capital assessments across all their sites in the UK. Along with engaging with multistakeholder industry organisations such as through the Natural Leaders Platform, part of the Cambridge Institute for Sustainable Leadership, they are also working with the environmental charity and think tank Green Alliance on a new policy framework to preserve and enhance natural capital in the UK.

By working in partnership with other organisations, they believe they can better understand their impacts across the value chain, and share knowledge and shape policy for the benefit of others.They aim to pass on the lessons they've learned about natural capital throughout their supply chain and encourage biodiversity not just in their own sites, but also in land owned by their First Milk farmers.

"We recognise that the long term success of Nestlé is dependent on the products and services provided by the natural world. This is why we are committed to developing our business in a way that safeguards natural capital, and in particular biodiversity and ecosystems services."

Fiona Kendrick
Chairman & CEO, Nestlé UK Ltd

Last reviewed: 12 Oct 2016