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Natural Capital Case Studies

dryopterisLegislators can develop political support across all government departments by highlighting the economic and social benefits that exist alongside the environmental objectives of protecting the natural world. ‘Investing in natural capital’ through restoration, conservation or environmental management can achieve mainstream public policy goals in a timely fashion, such as economic growth, job creation and energy and food security.

GLOBE produced an interim report prepared for the ‘Parliamentarians and Biodiversity Forum’ at the tenth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, Nagoya, Japan, October 2010: Natural Capital: The New Political Imperative (click on title to download), which profiles 12 case studies where environmental policies have achieved benefits for the economy and society worldwide. 

This report uses a case study approach to describe actions that legislators have taken in a range of countries to more fully incorporate the values of natural capital into decision making. These actions range from large-scale ‘payment for ecosystem services’ (PES) programmes in Mexico and China, to incentivising conservation through the taxation system in Brazil, to increasing the flow of ecosystem services through land restoration in Denmark and South Africa, and recognising the contribution of protected area networks to national and regional economies in Australia.

The case studies in the report were selected with the involvement of parliamentarians from GLOBE International’s network. GLOBE focal points in ten countries and the European Union were asked to nominate projects or pieces of legislation that embodied the principles of investing in natural capital. GLOBE Europe supported the production of the complementary report "Investing in Natural Capital - Examples from Europe" (click on title to download) profiling 9 case studies from European Union Member States.

To be considered for inclusion in this report, the case studies had to demonstrate evidence of the environmental, economic and social benefits associated with the project or legislation, and that there was potential for the principles of the approach to be applied in other geographic areas. GLOBE members and experts associated with each of the case studies were asked to provide political insight into the factors that enabled each approach to succeed, highlighting how environmental management can be integrated with major public policy areas.

The reports were prepared by GLOBE International in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Volans.


The policies profiled are currently seen as “progressive” due to their recognition of the true value of ecosystem services, however, once natural capital is fully integrated into decision making, these approaches will become second nature to policy makers.