The Natural Step is embarking on a new Sustainability Transition Lab—this Lab aims to improve the way we measure, manage and make decisions about Canada’s natural capital.
Why this is important
Canada is home to an abundance of natural capital, enjoying natural resources far in excess of other countries on a per capita basis. While Canada represents less than 1% of the world’s population, it is home to 60% of its freshwater lakes¹, 25% of its wetlands and 10% of its forests². Natural capital underpins our economy, our wellbeing, and our prosperity as Canadians.
However, global natural capital has declined 60% over the past 50 years³. Despite the environmental, economic and social importance of our natural resources, the lack of robust natural capital market and non-market indictors make it difficult to properly value their worth – and their cost of degradation.
In order to ensure the proper stewardship and conservation of natural capital, business and government leaders need reliable information, tools and frameworks to include natural capital in the decision-making process. New economic indicators and accounting standards are urgently needed, as is the application of these across businesses, governments and individuals – the system is in need of a transformation.
The Path Forward
The Natural Step Canada, together with the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada, TD Bank Group, Ivey Foundation and Sustainable Prosperity have completed an initial phase of work to understand this complex challenge and outline an approach to address it.
The Natural Capital Lab is a four-year national initiative that will transform the way we account for Canada’s natural capital so that we in turn become better stewards of Canada’s rich natural endowment and optimize its use in our economy.
The Natural Capital Lab combines best practices regarding social innovation with the best available sustainability science. The lab will operate at two levels; i) Field Building activities which will transform the way decision-makers understand and engage on the topic of natural capital and ii) Innovation activities will include a series of pilots, refinement of solutions, and support for the amplification and scaling up of new methods for measuring and managing natural capital.
The Natural Capital Lab is expected to catalyze a shift in the natural capital system in Canada by the year 2020. The following important impacts to the natural capital system are anticipated over the long term:
- Canada will become a leader in natural capital stewardship
- Canadians will become engaged and informed about natural capital
- Clear market signals will exist for natural capital
- Business and government will use natural capital in decision-making
- Canadian businesses and municipalities will become resilient & sustainable
To learn more:
Please follow these links to learn more about our work on Natural Capital:
- Natural Capital Lab Research Summary
- Natural Capital Lab Phase 1 Workshop Summary
- Natural Capital Lab Phase 2 Overview
¹ John A. Downing et al, 2006. The global abundance and size distribution of lakes, ponds, and impoundments. Limnology and Oceanography. 51(5): 2388-2397. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/16-201-x/2010000/part-partie2-eng.htm
² Natural Resources Canada. 2014. The State of Canada’s forests annual report 2014. http://cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/pubwarehouse/pdfs/35713.pdf
³ The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. 2005. http://millenniumassessment.org/en/index.htm
– See more at: http://www.naturalstep.ca/introducing-the-natural-capital-lab#sthash.ymjKVPAl.dpuf