Business leaders, policy makers, environmental experts and academics from around the globe will gather in Edinburgh today for the second World Forum on Natural Capital.
During the course of the two-day event, delegates will be invited to sign a letter urging world leaders attending the UN Climate Conference in Paris (7-8th December) to acknowledge and address the fact that climate change cannot be tackled without halting the rapid erosion and loss of natural capital.
Signatories of the letter will include Sir Richard Branson, who will be taking part in the World Forum through a live link to a special Young Leaders’ Session exploring questions about future leadership, along with a host of senior figures from business and environmental organisations involved in the event.
The First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, will open the World Forum and deliver the keynote address to over 500 delegates attending from 45 countries.
Natural capital is a term that refers to the world’s stocks of natural assets which include geology, soil, air, water and all living things. While non-renewable natural resources, such as fossil fuels, minerals and metals, are already partially accounted for in national accounts and on corporate balance sheets, renewable natural resources are not. It’s from natural capital that humans derive a wide range of services, often called ecosystem services, which make human life possible. Unfortunately, natural capital is rapidly being depleted, but as this isn’t showing up on traditional balance sheets its value often remains invisible.
Chief Executive of the Scottish Wildlife Trust and Co-Founder of the World Forum on Natural Capital, Jonny Hughes, said: “The World Forum on Natural Capital will dispel the myth that a vibrant economy and a healthy environment are somehow incompatible. The assets contained within the natural world – our ‘natural capital’ – are the very foundation of our economic wealth. When we erode our soils, pollute our waters, cause species extinctions and change our atmosphere with greenhouse gases, we directly threaten our economic prosperity. We need to start thinking of nature as the solution to global challenges such as climate change, extreme weather events, pollution and novel diseases. For this we need a new type of economics.
“I’m delighted that so many inspirational thinkers will be gathering in Edinburgh to tackle some of the most pressing problems facing the world. Together we are sending a very clear message to the leaders taking part in the UN Climate Conference in Paris: the climate crisis cannot be solved without halting the rapid erosion and loss of natural capital.”
Inger Andersen, IUCN Director General commented: “Natural capital is the backbone of our survival. It’s time to recognise its importance because how we safeguard and use nature today will define our future.”
The theme for the two-day event is ‘Solutions for a changing world’, a key focus of which will be helping business and sustainability leaders identify the economic importance of protecting and restoring our natural environment. The programme has been conceived to drive discussion with financial institutions, businesses and policy makers about how and why they should be making a long term investment in natural capital.
During the course of the event, delegates will be challenged on thought-provoking topics such as disaster risk reduction, emerging financial products and using familiar tools to manage new risks. An increasing number of governments, businesses and financial institutions across the globe are recognising humanity’s reliance on natural capital and the urgency of accounting for the impact we have on it. This is leading to improved management of emerging risks, greater innovation and new solutions to help tackle major economic and environmental challenges, including resource scarcity, biodiversity loss and climate change.
The letter that will be sent from those attending the World Forum on Natural Capital to the global leaders taking part in the UN Climate Conference in Paris is available on the World Forum blog, and is outlined further below.