Can Paris Natural Capital Week rival New York Climate Week?

27 November 2018

Natural Capital Week 2018 is here! But what is it, why is it important, and what are we (PwC’s Sustainability & Climate Change team) doing there?

What is it?

‘Natural Capital’ is the term used to describe the world's stocks of natural assets which include geology, soil, air, water and all living things. These assets provide goods and services that underpin our economies and societies. ‘Natural Capital Week’ is a whole week of events in Paris focussed on various different aspects of Natural Capital. The idea came about when a few key organisations that work on natural capital issues realised they were all trying to schedule big events and gatherings at around the same time - and it has snowballed from there!

It’s (very) loosely based on the hugely successful ‘New York Climate Week’. Since 2009 New York Climate Week has brought together businesses, governments and civil society to promote action on climate change. It’s become one of the key summits in the international calendar.

Why is it important?

First there’s the small matter of global climate change. It’s now widely acknowledged that we can’t control climate change without controlling deforestation, conversion of peatlands and other natural capital related sources of greenhouse gases. This year for example, scientists estimated that protecting and restoring forests would reduce 18% of emissions by 2030.

So we know that we need to protect natural capital to protect ourselves against climate change - but it’s also much broader than that. If we think in terms of the nine ‘Planetary Boundaries’ (thresholds that scientists have identified to define the ‘safe operating space for humanity’)(https://www.stockholmresilience.org/research/planetary-boundaries/planetary-boundaries/about-the-research/the-nine-planetary-boundaries.html) - climate change is one of these critical boundaries - but every one of them links back to natural capital. Perhaps the two most closely associated with natural capital - ‘land system change’ and ‘biosphere integrity’ - are also two of the most at risk.

These interrelationships explain why many people are promoting ‘Natural capital thinking’. Natural capital thinking involves recognising both the impacts and the dependencies that businesses and society have on nature - from using natural resources and generating emissions, to relying on bees for pollination. Despite its importance however, efforts to maintain and improve natural capital are often disjointed.

This is where Natural Capital Week comes in - by bringing together policy-makers, NGOs, independent experts, and businesses with major environmental impacts and dependencies - to help coordinate their efforts. Over the course of the week we’ll be participating in a number of events, bringing insights from our work with our diverse client base to help others understand how they can improve natural capital measurement and decision-making.

Here’s a sample of what we’re up to this week:

  • Natural Capital Policy Forum: Bringing business and government together to share ideas on how ‘natural capital thinking’ can improve decision making to protect biodiversity and fight climate change.

  • UNEP FI Global Roundtable: Which amongst other things sees the launch of the latest outputs from the Natural Capital Finance Alliance on natural capital risk for financial institutions.

  • Natural Capital Coalition collaboration day: Reviewing recent progress and setting the agenda for the coming year.

  • Natural Capital Coalition Advisory Panel meeting: Hosted by Kering Group who we have supported for many years on their groundbreaking ‘Environmental Profit & Loss Account’.

Follow us on social media (links below) for updates as the week progresses or get in touch if you’ll be in Paris as well!

Twitter

@Will_Evison

@olliewillmott

@PwCClimateReady

LinkedIn

https://www.linkedin.com/in/williamevison/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/oliver-willmott-09556a25

https://www.linkedin.com/in/eleni-thrasyvoulou-726b5465/

http://linkedin.com/in/helen-hughes-a0189b106

So: will Paris Natural Capital Week rival New York Climate Week? Watch this space to find out!

 

Will Evison | Director, Sustainability & Climate Change, PwC UK
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