Natural capital, national performance and the economy

Wednesday, 28th June 2017 - 14:00 to 16:00

Old Library, School of Geosciences, Drummond Street, University of Edinburgh

Natural capital underpins and supports human society. But the actual nature of that relationship is often difficult to measure and nature may be invisible in our decision making tools and models. Consequently, there is growing interest in how we can both measure changes in natural capital and develop our understanding of how those changes then impact on society. This social impact can be considered in terms of either our well-being or in the impact on the economy.

The purpose of this ESCom event is to introduce some of the different strands of work taking place in Scotland that aim to understand how natural capital contributes to our national well-being and the economy. Developing this understanding may help us to determine how sustainable our use of natural capital is and where important risks and opportunities exist.


Paul Watkinson, SNH: The Natural Capital Asset Index and the National Performance Framework

Alistair McVittie, SRUC: Natural Capital Accounts: existing UK initiatives and planned work in Scotland

David Comerford, Fraser of Allander Institute: Modelling the contribution of natural capital to the wider economy


Workshop – natural capital scenarios

To be useful in decision making our approaches to assessing natural capital need to be able to address future scenarios either through modeling those scenarios or highlighting where criticalities may arise.

We would like participants to spend some time developing and describing potential scenarios that may impact on Scotland’s natural capital assets. These may then inform future analyses. Examples of what we would like participants to consider:

  • What is driving this scenario, is it environmental (e.g. climate change) or political (e.g. Brexit)?
  • What sectors (e.g. agriculture, forestry) or wider supply chains (e.g. food)?
  • What timeframes (e.g. next 5 years, up to 10 years, more than 10 years)?
  • What locations (e.g. national, regional, catchment)?
  • What data or indicators are available?

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