There is no single, internationally accepted definition of natural capital. A number of commonly used or adapted definitions are presented below. Functionally, many of the definitions are similar, including concepts such the 'stocks' of 'natural resources' that create a 'flow' of 'benefits to people'.
The following organisations and documents define natural capital as...
…another term for the stock of renewable and non-renewable resources (e.g. plants, animals, air, water, soils, minerals) that combine to yield a flow of benefits to people. Natural Capital Coalition (2016) 1
…the stock of renewable natural resources (e.g. forests, plants, animals, air, water, soils) that combine to yield a flow of benefits to people. Natural Capital Finance Alliance 2
…the stock of ecosystems that yields a renewable flow of goods and services that underpin the economy and provide inputs and direct and indirect benefits to businesses and society. The Natural Capital Declaration (2012) 3
…natural assets in their role of providing natural resource inputs and environmental services for economic production. Natural capital includes land, minerals and fossil fuels, solar energy, water, living organisms, and the services provided by the interactions of all these elements in ecological systems. United Nations Environment (UNEP) (2012) 4
…natural assets in their role of providing natural resource inputs and environmental services for economic production. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (2007) 5
… stock that yields a flow of natural services and tangible natural resources. Daly (1994) 6
References & Websites
- Natural Capital Coalition (2016) Natural Capital Protocol.
- Natural Capital Finance Alliance (no date) The Materiality of Natural Capital.
- Natural Capital Declaration (2012) The Natural Capital Declaration and Roadmap: Financial sector leadership on natural capital.
- UNEP (2012) The Global Environmental Outlook 5.
- OECD (2007) The OECD Glossary of Statistical Terms.
- Daly, H. (1994) Operationalizing Sustainable Development by Investing in Natural Capital. In: Jansson, A.M., Hammer, M., Folke, C., and Costanza, R. (eds.) Investing in Natural Capital: The Ecological Economics Approach to Sustainability. Island Press, Washington D.C.