The Natural Capital Committee may not be the first place you turn to when you log on in the morning, but it is perhaps one of the most important outcomes of the 2011 White Paper, The Natural Choice.
Over the last three years, the NCC has been quietly beavering away to produce a robust and credible process to measure the value of the natural environment. This is a vital if we are to deliver sustainable development as it allows everyone to use the same language and compare apples with apples (or with grazing land, retail parks or manufacturing plants for that matter)
Most importantly, the third annual report sets out a strong case for actively investing in our natural capital. For example:
- Woodland planting near towns and cities could generate net benefits in excess of £500 million per year.
- Urban air quality currently accounts for an estimated 40,000 premature deaths per year in Europe and in 2010 cost the UK 5% GDP in lost productivity.
- 80% of us now live in urban areas, so green spaces in town and cities can have wide-ranging benefits to society. On mental and physical health alone they could help to reduce treatment costs by an estimated £2.1 billion.
The report also considers how to incentivise and finance improvement to natural capital and what the next steps should be to deliver on these findings.
All the NCC reports can be found here.