Towards natural capital accounting in the Netherlands

National Natural Capital Accounts can contribute to initiatives at different scales - such as private land conservation - to improve the quality of life in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands is a densely populated country, with a high standard of living and a world-renowned agriculture and food industry. However, intensive land use is putting pressure on the local environment, causing the degradation of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Only 14 per cent of the land in the Netherlands is covered in natural or semi-natural vegetation or forests; little is left of the region’s original biodiversity. Therefore, a transition is needed towards a future where companies, government officials and other stakeholders more accurately measure their dependence and impact on natural capital. This will help create a more sustainable society.

Between 2011 and 2014 the Dutch government launched a series of studies and experiments – involving businesses, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the government – to stimulate awareness about and experiences with the values of biodiversity and natural capital. From 2014 to 2016 a research programme on natural capital in The Netherlands investigated the possibility of working with natural capital assessments in practical situations in different policy areas. Also, a start was made with developing tools for assessing natural capital impacts and dependencies for companies, as well as with online platforms for the exchange of information.

These initiatives have stimulated a growing interest from companies, science institutions and other parties. They have also highlighted the need for standardization as well as better access to data and practical tools for natural capital accounting (NCA).

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