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Natural Capital

What do I need to consider in order to set the objective and scope for my natural capital assessment?

Scoping involves defining the objective, then determining the scope appropriate to meet this objective, and finally, identifying the most relevant impacts and dependencies.


Defining the objective

In order to define the objective of the assessment, one must identify the target audience (typically an internal stakeholder, such as an executive or a head of sustainability). It is further advised to involve and consult other stakeholders in addition to the target audience. Crucial to this is to perform a stakeholder analysis. Such considerations should lead to a clear articulation of the objective of the natural capital assessment.

Natural Capital Coalition (2016a), p. 24-29.

Scoping the assessment

In searching for an adequate scope, it is important to decide if the assessment focuses on the corporate, project or product level, where the value-chain boundaries are set, whether to take a societal or business value perspective, if it should focus on impacts, dependencies or both, and then to determine on which type of value (qualitative, quantitative or monetary) to concentrate. Typically, the first and broadest assessment is qualitative, followed by a quantitative analysis, eventually leading to a monetary valuation of impacts and dependencies. Other technical issues (such as spatial boundaries and time horizons) are also included in this step and key planning issues (such as resources and data availability) ought to be addressed here as well. The several elements that constitute the scope are, of course, interrelated and should not be considered in isolation.

Natural Capital Coalition (2016a), p. 30-42.

In order to decide which approach fits the scope, try the interactive guide to selecting an NCA approach: Business @ Biodiversity Workstream 1 (2014)

Determining the impacts and dependencies

Central to determining the impacts or dependencies is a materiality assessment. The materiality of an impact or dependency on natural capital depends on whether its value, as part of the set of information used for decision-making, has the potential to change that decision.

In order to understand which impacts and/or dependencies are potentially material, one should investigate critical impact drivers (production input and non-product output), consumptive and non-consumptive dependencies and the pathways associated with them. The Natural Capital Quick Scan and the Futureproof Community can help develop such an understanding. Through testing relevant information to certain criteria for the materiality of impacts and dependencies, it can then be said which of the potentially material impacts and dependencies are actually material.

Natural Capital Coalition (2016a), p. 43-52, 123.

Natural Capital Quick Scan.

Futureproof Community (includes helpdesk).