Trucost News / 11 Jul 2014

Trucost to develop Natural Capital Protocol guidance for business

A valuable opportunity for companies to help shape the future of natural capital accounting has been launched by a consortium of organizations including Trucost

Companies in the food, apparel and other industry sectors will benefit from a new business-focused protocol and guidance on natural capital accounting to be developed by Trucost as part of a collaborative consortium. This partnership welcomes the involvement of companies across business.

Natural capital accounting enables companies to measure and manage their environmental impacts in a more effective, business-like way. By putting a monetary value on pollution and resource use, companies can better understand and integrate sustainability into their businesses to improve efficiency, reduce risk and increase revenues.

The consortium is one of two that have been selected by the Natural Capital Coalition, a global platform to encourage natural capital accounting among companies and investors. To increase uptake, the coalition is to develop a Natural Capital Protocol – a framework for conducting natural capital accounting that will harmonize the multitude of existing methodologies and lay the foundations for a future standard. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development is managing a consortium to develop the protocol.

Making the protocol relevant and valuable to business users is of crucial importance. That is why a second consortium, managed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), is to develop guidance on natural capital accounting for the food and apparel sectors. Trucost is to lead this work in partnership with Ernst & Young (EY), the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Institute for Ecology Research Services, Sustainable Fashion Academy (SFA), True Price and University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), as well as a number of independent expert advisers. The protocol and supporting guidance will be published in December 2015.

Trucost already has extensive experience of natural capital accounting in the food and beverage sector for companies such as Axfood, General Mills and Monsanto. It authored the Natural Capital at Risk report which included analysis of agricultural commodities for the food and apparel sectors. Trucost will work closely with natural capital accounting expert Carl Obst and the FAO’s Nadia El-Hage Scialabba, providing the consortium with global technical and policy expertise.

EY has significant experience working with businesses to understand their environmental and social impacts and the relationship of these impacts to corporate strategy and value. True Price developed the first protocol for the valuation of natural capital costs in the cocoa, coffee, tea and horticulture supply chains. CISL has engaged with many companies in the food and beverage sector on natural capital valuation, including Olam, Nestlé and SABMiller.

Trucost also has extensive experience of working with companies in the apparel sector, including creating the first-ever environmental profit and loss account for PUMA, and writing a white paper for the SFA on how natural capital accounting could be developed in the apparel sector. Trucost is part of a group undertaking a natural capital valuation study of the textile industry for the Danish Environmental Protection Agency. As part of the consortium, Trucost will continue to work with the SFA on the apparel sector guidance, and also with consultant Ryan Young who was central to the development of the Higg Index environmental assessment tool for the Sustainable Apparel Coalition.

The consortium will consult and test the protocol and guidance with business to ensure it is fit for purpose. Companies from all sectors, not just food and apparel, are able to take part in the pilot testing phase. Trucost has already received expressions of interest from over 40 companies. Other companies interested in becoming involved should contact Trucost’s chief operating officer Alastair MacGregor (see below for further information).

Richard Mattison, chief executive of Trucost, said: “Companies in the food and apparel sectors are on the frontline facing supply chain disruption from water scarcity, land degradation, extreme weather and increasing energy prices. Not only can natural capital accounting help them quantify and understand these risks, it can drive positive changes in business strategy and operations that will allow them to prosper while sustaining the natural capital on which they depend.”

Further information

Companies from all sectors interested in knowing more about the Natural Capital Protocol and guidance should contact Alastair MacGregor, Trucost chief operating officer, +44 (0)20 7160 9869, alastair.macgregor@trucost.com. For US enquiries please contact Libby Bernick, senior VP Trucost North America + 1 484 685 6029 libby.bernick@trucost.com.

Media contact

James Richens, +44 (0)20 7160 9804, james.richens@trucost.com