This week in Natural Capital


Week 18-22 August 2014, by Anna Heuberger

What lessons can capitalism draw from the evolution of nature?

In times of growing instability thoughts and stories aimed at predicting future developments accumulate in the media. This week on the 20th of August, John Elkington and Jochen Zeit, argue in the article “5 Rules of Tomorrow’s Bottom Line”  that the future already exists in the present.

For capitalism to evolve, it must adapt to the reality that business as usual is not sustainable.  According to the World Footprint Network, Earth Overshoot day was August 19th. We are now living beyond nature’s regenerative capacity for 2014.  The topic of last week’s lead article “Small Chinese cities steer away from GDP as measure of success” is an example of taking a step towards a new growth model. Furthermore International companies like Puma, Gucci or Stella McCartney have made a move towards including environmental profit and loss into their accounting.

Are these first indicators that capitalism is moving towards major changes? If this is the case, how will the transition look like and where will it go? Even more important to ask: How can we ensure that we move towards a more sustainable system?

The authors rightly point out that: “Nature has been evolving solutions to complex challenges for something like 3.8 billion years. Realizing this, a growing number of designers and engineers are looking to the natural world for breakthrough ideas about how business can become more conscious, responsible, sustainable, and regenerative.” Read the article here to find out more.

Other headlines

Policy Making

Non-native species: UK bill could prompt biodiversity loss

Nature, August 20, 2014

The UK government’s proposed Infrastructure Bill for England and Wales gives new powers to control or eradicate invasive, non-native species. However, what constitutes such a species needs careful definition to ensure that any use of these powers is beneficial for conservation. More here


Reason for Climate Change Optimism as Forest Strategy Is Validated

Huffington Post, August 18, 2014

The tenure of indigenous people over these patches of our planet – who can maintain standing forests and see that the trees are not cut down – is a crucial ingredient in the complex recipe for controlling carbon emissions and thereby tackling climate change itself. More here

A clearing in the trees

The Economist, August 23, 2014

Brazilian officials now say that they are reaching the limits of what top-down prohibition can do. Despite the experience of India, they want to shift to offering more incentives to make it profitable to keep the forests intact. Such policies, though, are an uphill struggle.More here


“Adorably Cute” Tiny Primate Discovery Illuminates Biodiversity of Philippines Island

National Geographic, August 19, 2014

”With its giant eyes, fuzzy face, and prominent ears, the discovery will no doubt attract attention as an adorably cute new ecotourism focal point—much like its furry cousin on Bohol Island,” says the statement released by the Biodiversity Institute of the University of Kansas on behalf of the institutions involved in the study. More here

Verified Conservation Areas: A Real-Estate Market For Biodiversity?

Ecosystem Marketplace, August 21, 2014

A power company in Germany can use forest-carbon from Brazil to offset emissions because carbon offsets are standardized units, but an American city that damages the habitat of endangered species in Arizona has no such option – in part because habitat is as varied and localized as land itself. Frank Vorhies says VCAs are part of the solution.More here


annaThis weekly blog has the purpose to summarize and collect important stories and news on Natural Capital.


By Anna Heuberger, TEEB Communications and Outreach




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