KNOWLEDGE MAP Back to overview

Natural Capital

Which policies support the mainstreaming of natural capital?

On a global and a European level an extensive and diverse range of policy measures has been and is being developed: from legislation to protect specific nature areas to directives on transparency in corporate reporting. In the Netherlands, important policies are the National Agenda on Natural Capital and the National Nature Vision.

National Level (The Netherlands)

Natural Capital Agenda & Nature Vision

With this agenda en vision the Dutch government aims to achieve an image from the nature as source of societal and economic development, which leads to better opportunities for a stronger nature and a more relaxed synergy of nature with societal and environmental developments.

Ministerie van Economische Zaken & Ministerie van Infrastructuur en Milieu (2013b). (in Dutch)

More information on the Rijksnatuurvisie on the PBL website (in Dutch).

Waste to Resource

Nature supplies among others food, clean air, water and energy. To use this responsibly and avoid damage the Dutch national government supports the transition to a circular economy, for instance in the program Waste to Resource. She acts in concord with business, NGO’s and science.

More information on the website of Waste to Resource (in Dutch).

Green Growth

Since 2013 the Dutch national government has formed policy geared to Green Growth (also see “Green Growth” in “Which concepts are related to natural capital?”). An intermediate assessment in 2015 shows a decoupling between economic growth and environmental pressure on almost all indicators. Nonetheless, the level of environmental pressure on a number of domains is too high to satisfy policy goals. 

Ministerie van Economische Zaken & Ministerie van Infrastructuur en Milieu (2013a). (in Dutch)

Ministerie van Economische Zaken & Ministerie van Infrastructuur en Milieu (2015). (in Dutch)

Spatial planning & Area Development

Natural capital is already being supported by several spatial planning policies. For example, natural capital is integrated in the Delta program and the Structural Vision Soil (STRONG). Knowledge center InfoMil is an important reference for sustainable area development.

RIVM & Deltares (2015), p. 10-11 & 38. (in Dutch)

Website of knowledge center InfoMil.

Transparancy Benchmark

The Transparency Benchmark is an annual research on the content and quality of corporate social responsibility reports of Dutch companies. The government asks companies for transparency in their CSR policies and activities, specifically also natural capital. The Transparency Benchmark is leading in the Dutch implementation of the EU guideline for non-financial reporting.

For more information, visit the website of the Transparency Benchmark.

European Level

Selection of European legislation

A growing body of European legislation aims to stimulate member states to protect the environment and further incorporate natural capital in national policy. Important is the European biodiversity strategy that aims to halt the loss of biodiversity and improve

the state of ecosystems. Other legislation are the twin Habitats and Birds Directives that form the cornerstone of Europe’s nature conservation policy. Other legislation is a.o. the Water Framework Directive, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, the Air Quality Directive, and the Landscape Convention.

European Commission (2011).

More information on the Habitats and Birds Directives on the EU website.

An introduction to more legislation in SOER 2015 – The European environment – state and outlook 2015.

Natura 2000

For retaining ecosystem services in Natura 2000 areas, the EU urges member states to develop binding national instruments. Member states can determine priorities and financing of these instruments, and receive EU money to run the instruments. In the Netherlands, for instance, the PAS program focuses on nitrogen pollution in Natura 2000 areas.

More information on the Environment website of the European Commission.

More information on PAS on the website of the Dutch ministry of Economic Affairs.

EU Directive On Non-Financial Information

For certain companies active in the European Economic Area the ‘Directive 2014/95/EU on disclosure of non-financial and diversity information’ requires disclosure of risks and outcomes regarding environmental matters. This will provide investors and other stakeholders with a more comprehensive picture of a company’s performance. Companies will retain significant flexibility to disclose relevant information in the way that they consider most useful. They may use international, European or national guidelines according to their own characteristics or business environment (for instance, the UN Global Compact, ISO 26000 or GRI G4). 

See for more information the website of the European Commission.

Global Level

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA)

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment assessed the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being. From 2001 to 2005, more than 1,360 experts worked on a state-of-the-art scientific appraisal of the condition and trends in the world’s ecosystems and the services they provide, as well as the scientific basis for action to conserve and use them sustainably.

For more information visit the website of UNEP.

Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) entered into force in 1993 and has three main objectives: the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of the components of biological diversity, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.

For more information visit the website of the CBD.