Two hundred delegates are attending the second Natural Capital Initiative summit – Valuing our Life Support Systems 2014 – at the British Library in London this week. The Natural Capital Initiative is a partnership between the Society of Biology, the British Ecological Society, the James Hutton Institute and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH). The first summit held by the Initiative in 2009 led to the formation of the Cabinet Office’s Natural Capital Committee.

The convenor of the summit, Professor Mike Acreman, the Science Area Lead for Natural Capital at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology said, “We tend to treat our environment as just a backdrop to human activity. We routinely ignore nature in business and policy decisions. Many of our actions destroy our natural capital. Yet, accounted correctly, our natural capital provides great advantages for business and policy-making.”

Coined by economist and author of Small is Beautiful, EF Schumacher, natural capital refers to the elements of nature that produce value (directly and indirectly) to people, including soils for food production, clean water for drinking and protection from hazards such as floods, as well as open space for exercise, refreshment and health protection. 

During the summit – which will explore our natural capital and seek ways to secure its care so that it can continue to provide for us – ecologists will exchange ideas and share science with accountants, land managers, investment strategists and heritage experts. Discussion sessions will focus on ethics, economics, conservation, business, knowledge and information, water management, tools and models, culture, policy and local partnerships.

By the close of the summit the organisers hope that “scientists will have new ideas for research, businesses will have shared better practice, and policy-makers will be better equipped to develop new policy proposals".

A key output from the Summit will be a scorecard recording progress to date in making the concept of Natural Capital mainstream practice, and identifying where future efforts should be focused.

Prof Acreman will give a keynote address at the end of the two-day summit to summarise findings. Other CEH scientists speaking at the event include Dr Allan Watt, Dr Tom Oliver and John Watkins.

Additional information

  • Valuing our Life Support Systems takes place from 6-7 November 2014 at the British Library, London. Direct outputs from the summit will include videos of presentations, a conference report, and a summary scorecard identifying where progress has been made.
  • Full programme for the meeting
  • Follow the summit on Twitter via @NCI_NatCap #VoLSS2014
  • Timeline for outputs: the scorecard will be published at the end of November, and the full report of the conference in January
  • Natural Capital Committee

Related CEH links

Natural Capital Science Area 

Staff page of Prof Mike Acreman

Staff page of Dr Allan Watt

Staff page of Dr Tom Oliver

Putting a price on environmental goods? The Valuing our Life Support Systems symposium - 5 May 2009


You can follow the latest developments in CEH research via Twitter and our RSS news feed.

Science areas: