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Natural Capital

Which regions are mainstreaming natural capital?

More and more regions all over the globe are mainstreaming natural capital in their decision-making. Initiatives in the Dutch province Brabant, around the IJsselmeer (a man-made lake in the Netherlands), Andalucía (Spain) and Daule Basin (Ecuador) illustrate the opportunities.

Agrarians contribute to clean water in Brabant

Drinking water provider Brabant Water and agrarians have proven that the use of herbicides and pesticides can be reduced without loss in yields. One measure is to improve the soil quality, which makes crops more resilient – that is, reinforcing natural capital. This leads to societal and economic benefit for both agrarians as well as public partners.

PBL (2015a). (in Dutch)

Securing water supply and safety in the IJsselmeer

The area surrounding the (man-made) IJsselmeer lake knows many issues relating to water management. For one, excess water is discharged in the lower lying Wadden Sea. Climate change, however, causes sea levels to rise, making discharge increasingly difficult. A solution is to increase water levels in the IJsselmeer, but this also increases risk of flooding. A technical answer to this problem is to build higher dykes. This is an expensive solution and has disadvantages for nature and the landscape. A natural solution is constructing submerged banks. In the IJsselmeer area this solution turns out to be a safe alternative in suitable locations. Additionally, submerged banks have a positive effect on the natural environment, are better for water treatment, and provide a habitat for important species. These in turn lead to a more pleasurable environment for people, a higher recreational experience and better water quality. The societal welfare effects for the natural solution are estimated to be € 78 to € 367 million higher than the technical solution.

Alterra Wageningen UR & PBL (2014), p. 31. (in Dutch)

Andalucía (Spain)

Ecosystems in Andalucía, Spain, are used for the production of wood and cork, for hunting, and for cattle grazing. As the pressure on the ecosystem increased, the government realised that the ecosystems provided more services. These services have been mapped, which has led to ecosystems becoming an important factor in decision-making processes for new infrastructure, fire-fighting and tourism development.

WAVES (2012), p. 21.

Daule Basin (Ecuador)

The Daule Basin in Ecuador is one of the first regions where ecosystem services have been expressed in monetary value. Consequences of potential investments in land use on the local ecosystem services are analyzed using multiple methods and are tested for financial feasibility. Services identified in this process were counteracting erosion, soil fertility and water quality.

Natural Capital Coalition (2014a), p. 14.

Of course there are many more regions working with natural capital. For more frontrunners consult the above mentioned sources or visit the websites of BSRIUCNand the Natural Capital Business Hub.