At the Natural Capital Project, we hold the philosophy that if you create compelling, science-based solutions and make them easy to access anywhere in the world, they can inspire and accelerate positive change. Our values are centered on co-developing new science and sharing open-source information that demonstrably transform decisions. Our goal is to see our work taken up, adapted, and amplified by other scientists, governments, and financial institutions around the world, to spur action aimed at improving nature and the benefits it provides to humans.
Amidst all of the challenges of the past year, I have been inspired by growing global support for natural capital approaches and tools. With two major United Nations convenings — the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Framework Convention on Climate Change — just around the corner, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on a few of the ways that we, as the Natural Capital Project community, recognize and appreciate the uptake of our work.
In each of these examples below, experts from globally influential institutions used NatCap’s data and software tools — without our direct help — to advance their own goals and our shared vision for improving uptake of nature’s values in all decisions.
Using our data for new insights. Last Fall, the Swiss Re Institute published a Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Index to highlight which economic sectors are most reliant on nature. The report also shows the exposure each country has to declines in biodiversity and ecosystem services. At the core of the Swiss Re global analyses for pollination, nitrogen retention, and coastal risk reduction are InVEST-created results from NatCap’s 2019 Science publication, led by Becky Chaplin-Kramer.
Amplifying the reach of our software. As InVEST’s user base grows, we continue to see the software applied in new ways and integrated into new tools. For instance, NatCap’s Coastal Vulnerability model is now a recommended resource for Vulcan Inc’s Allen Coral Atlas users. The atlas utilizes high-resolution satellite imagery and advanced analytics to map and monitor the world’s coral reefs in “unprecedented detail.” The Atlas team created their own tutorial for users to learn how to use the NatCap Coastal Vulnerability model to analyze and interpret the free data provided by the Atlas.
Applying InVEST for increased impact. The Inter-American Development Bank is soon to launch a new platform that integrates the values of natural capital into the economic analysis of public policy and investment, including links to the UN System of Environmental and Economic Accounts (UN-SEEA). The Integrated Economic-Environmental Modeling Platform already uses several InVEST models to calculate change in a wide variety of ecosystem services values. Using InVEST, the IDB developed ecosystem services modeling data packets that are “plug and play” for 21 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean region. The new format (to be released this fall) makes InVEST accessible to more users in government, banks, and companies, which means a higher potential for the positive impacts IDB and NatCap strive to achieve.
These are only a few of the many ways in which we’re seeing NatCap’s science, tools, and demonstrations being adopted around the world. From the recent approval of Gross Ecosystem Product (GEP) by the UN Statistical Commission to the use of Urban InVEST to inform an assessment of 775 European cities to understand the potential of nature-based solutions for addressing climate change, there’s a clear and exciting acceleration of uptake. This wouldn’t be happening without NatCap’s strong network of innovative and visionary individuals and institutions.