Blue chips begin live testing natural capital processes

More than 40 of the world's biggest businesses have been given access to the new draft of a new Protocol which enables business to effectively gauge environmental impacts and develop natural capital business models.

The companies – which include Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical Company (Dow), Hugo Boss, Kering, Nestlé, Olam International and Shell – will be testing the Natural Capital Protocol, which is under development through the Natural Capital Coalition and will launch fully in July 2016.

The testing programme will be led by the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) – a member of the Natural Capital Coalition. It is hoped that the testing phase will enable businesses to refine and influence the final Protocol to ensure it is robust, practical and relevant to the entire private sector.

Mark Gough, executive director of the Natural Capital Coalition, said: “These companies are at the forefront of a process that will change the way business relates to nature. Their contribution to the collaborative approach is essential to make sure the Protocol is practical and will help improve decision-making.” 

Live testing

Polly Courtice, director of the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, said: “This is a significant and vital stage in the Natural Capital Protocol, which will provide us with invaluable insight to help steer the content of the final protocol. The involvement of business users from an early stage has always been essential to ensure the final outcome becomes a commonly used product in the market.”

Ten businesses – including all of those listed above – will be testing the Protocol in depth against a range of specific business applications such as water use, supply chain management and implementing environmental aspects into strategic business decisions.

Dow Chemical, for example, will asses water use opportunities across a range of site-specific locations. Hugo Boss, meanwhile, will live test natual capital processes across its supply chain, and F. Hoffman-La Roche will test the reporting aspects of the Protocol.

The overall aim of the Natural Capital Protocol is to bring together the vast amount of approaches to natural capital under one standardised framework which will be published in July next year 2016.


Crucially, the testing phase will apply across multiple sectors including two markets which have recently been making inroads into sustainability – the textile market (researching circular economies) and the food and drink market (researching ways to reduce waste) – to natural capital business processes. The Natural Capital Protocol will be applicable to all sectors and geographies.

Marie-Claire Daveu, chief sustainability officer at Kering – which has effectively valued its use of natural capital through Environmental Profit and Loss (EP&L) accounting – said: “We are pleased to contribute our Environmental Profit and Loss methodology and our experience in embedding natural capital accounting into our business for the development of a broadly adopted Protocol.

“The pragmatic work we are doing together to standardise and scale the Protocol is critical to the future protection and maintenance of natural capital and biodiversity.”

This announcement from the Natural Capital Coalition comes just a day after analysis from infrastructure services firm Aecom found that UK firms were potentially missing out on a £7bn windfall by ignoring the natural capital potential of their land. 

NCC Natural Capital Protocol Principles and Framework Brochure

Matt Mace

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