UNEP-WCMC Proposes Common Classification Framework of Natural Capital Assets
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The paper argues that an agreed classification of natural capital assets is required to standardize their identification, description, and measurement and to support action to reduce and mitigate the pressures they are under.

The proposed system is central to ENCORE, a financial risk tool launched in 2018, which was developed by the Natural Capital Finance Alliance in partnership with UNEP-WCMC.

1 April 2019: Researchers from the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) have developed a system of classification of renewable and non-renewable natural resources, aiming to harmonize existing approaches and create a system that is practical for decision makers in the public and private sectors.

The system is described in an open access paper published in the journal Ecosystem Services titled, ‘A Common Framework of Natural Capital Assets for Use in Public and Private Sector Decision Making.’

The authors argue that an agreed classification of natural capital assets is required to standardize their identification, description, and measurement and to support action to reduce and mitigate the pressures they are under. Promoting a common understanding is key in measuring and monitoring the value of assets, they note, and will enable more consistent and holistic decision making in relation to the management of natural capital.

The paper evaluates the main systems classifying the environment into natural capital assets against a number of requirements for decision making, showing that to date, a unified classification encompassing all aspects of the natural environment is lacking. They thus amend and consolidate existing classifications and propose a new hierarchical one, which allows standardization of use within public and private sector natural capital assessments.

The proposed system is central to ENCORE, a financial risk tool launched in 2018, which was developed by the Natural Capital Finance Alliance in partnership with UNEP-WCMC. ENCORE helps financial institutions screen investments for natural capital-related risk, and incorporate this into existing risk management processes. [Publication: A Common Framework of Natural Capital Assets for Use in Public and Private Sector Decision Making] [UNEP-WCMC Press Release] [ENCORE Webpage]

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