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Natural Capital

Why should I, as a government, support mainstreaming of natural capital?

By integrating natural capital in the economic system, the influence of natural capital on the well-being and prosperity in society becomes clearer. Also the influence on the competitiveness of a country is more tangible, more value can be created in the value chains and spatial planning is more accurate. By looking at nature often interesting solutions arise with multiple benefits (Nature Based Solutions).

Well-being and prosperity

Natural capital contributes to well-being and prosperity of humans. Clean air is for example important to prevent respiratory problems and a green environment stimulates increased outdoor activities. Investments in green environments lead to lower health care costs and absence of work. For this reason alone an indicative results shows that green environments represent hundreds of millions in economic value.

Next to positive effects on people’s health, conservation of natural capital serves an economic interest in generating profits from selling resources (timber, fish) or creating value for tourism. Nature can lead to cost savings, such as crop pollination by bees and natural pest control by insects.

KPMG (2012b).

More information on the Atlas Natural Capital website.


Integrating natural capital in the economic system creates opportunities with regards to drinking water, clean air, scarce materials and food. The transition to a sustainable economy can increase the competitiveness of a country and at the same time reduce pressure on the environment and dependency on fossil fuels.

Ministerie van Economische Zaken (2013), p. 1. (in Dutch)

Spatial planning

Assessing the value of natural capital correctly improves the decision making process of policy makers in spatial planning. This causes the spatial planning to be executed smarter, which optimizes the use of space in the Netherlands.

RIVM & Deltares (2015), p. 9 & 161. (in Dutch)

Nature-based Solutions

Nature-based solutions are actions that are inspired by, supported by or copied from nature. They have tremendous potential to be energy and resource-efficient and resilient to change. Many nature-based solutions result in multiple co-benefits for health, the economy, society and the environment, and thus they can represent more efficient and cost-effective solutions than more traditional approaches.

As an example of a nature-based solution, in Cambridgeshire, U.K., the conversion of drained, intensively farmed arable land to a wetland habitat resulted in a net gain to society of € 160/ha/yr for a one-off investment in restoration of € 1.900/ha.

In the Netherlands, the floodplain of the Noordwaard polder is being restored as part of the ‘Room for the river’ program. The program will provide climate change-related flood protection for four million people, most of them in cities, improve the environmental quality for people and nature, and increase recreational facilities and boost the economy.

European Commission (2015), p. 4, 10 & 12.

Elmqvist et al. (2015).

Ruimte voor de rivier (2015).