Defra strengthens natural capital commitment with Committee reform

Defra has strengthened its efforts to improve England's natural capital by reforming a six-member strong Natural Capital Committee (NCC) which will spearhead the implementation of the Department's 25-year environmental plan.

Environment Secretary Liz Truss yesterday (25 February) announced the Committee’s reformation, which sees the appointment of a range of academics and directors to help with the implementation of Defra’s new departmental plan.

The new NCC members will embed open data, values, tools and techniques for local and national decision-makers to use when discussing policies on natural capital, Defra says.

“Through bringing together considerable skills and experience from a wide range of backgrounds, this new NCC will provide expert advice on how to expand our knowledge of natural capital, how best to use open data to drive environmental improvement and apply what we have learned in practice through the 25-year plan for the environment,” Truss said.

The NCC – chaired by Professor Dieter Helm who was reappointed in December – will provide advice on the state of England’s natural capital to the Economic Affairs Cabinet Committee.

The six newly appointed members are: –

– Colin Mayer: Management Studies professor at the University of Oxford; well-versed in corporate finance governance and taxation, the regulation of financial institutions and the role of the corporation in contemporary society.

– Diane Coyle: Professor of Economics at the University of Manchester and director of consultancy Enlightenment Economics; was a member of the Migration Advisory Committee, as well as the Browne Review of higher education funding.

– Georgina Mace: Professor of Biodiversity and Ecosystems at UCL and director of the Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research (CBER); is currently a member of the Council of Royal Society and Chair of the science committee for the DIVERSITAS global change research programme.

– Ian Bateman: Professor and director of the Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment (CSERGE); is an environmental economist and directs CSERGE which is the leading European research institute in environmental and resource economics.

– Kathy Willis: Director of Science at the Royal Botanic Gardens and founding director of the Oxford University Biodiversity Institute; has more than 20 years research experience in biodiversity, conservation and ecosystem management.

– Paul Leinster: Professor of Environmental Assessment at Cranfield University; is the former chief executive of the Environment Agency. He has experience in leading major environmental consultancies and has a PhD in environmental engineering.

Nature’s price

Truss has previously claimed that Britain’s forests, soil and rivers are worth at least £1.6tn and should be quantified in the same way as the country’s man-made infrastructure.

A recent report from the Aldersgate Group has called on the UK Government to support businesses investing in natural capital after services firm Aecom stated that UK firms are missing out on a £7bn windfall by ignoring the natural capital.

Matt Mace

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