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Natural Capital

Which other forms of capital are applied?

Capital is a store of value that becomes an input to an organization’s business model. Financial capital is a well-known form, but natural capital also counts as such an input. Six different types of capital are described. Interaction between financial and natural capital takes place on multiple levels. Both are part of the business models, where natural capital is usually transformed to financial capital.

The six capitals

All organizations depend on various forms of capital for their success. The capitals are stores of value that, in one form or another, become inputs to an organization’s business model. They are increased, decreased or transformed through the activities and outputs of the organization in that they are enhanced, consumed, modified, destroyed or otherwise affected by those activities and outputs. For example, an organization’s financial capital is increased when it makes a profit, and the quality of its human capital is improved when employees become better trained. In its <IR> framework the IIRC (see “Integrated Thinking and Reporting <IR>”) recognizes five capitals next to natural capital: financial, manufactured, intellectual, human, and social and relationship capital. 

More information on the multiple types of capital can be found in the International Integrated Reporting Council (2013).


An important difference between natural and financial capital is that the first consists of resources, such as minerals or biodiversity, and ecosystem services, while the second consists of assets that have a monetary value. Any business transforms natural capital into products and services, which are in turn traded and thereby transformed to financial capital.

International Integrated Reporting Council (2013), p. 12.