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WWF calls for government to ‘seize opportunity’ in response to third Natural Capital report.

WWF-UK welcomes the launch of the third Natural Capital Committee's (NCC) third report today, and urges government to seize the opportunity to safeguard nature and economic growth.

The landmark report underlines how the UK’s economy, businesses and well-being all ultimately depend on a healthy natural environment - it is literally our life support system - but we are losing it fast. If economic growth is to be sustained, we need to safeguard and invest in our natural capital.


WWF-UK's Economics Adviser, Toby Roxburgh, said: 

"Restoring nature is not a costly, nice-to-have – it is in our own economic interests. It should be far higher up the list of national priorities - up there with other major infrastructure programmes - and a core objective of economic and fiscal policy making. It is vital that government puts in place the right long-term policy signals to drive action – including through the Budget. WWF looks forward to the government’s full support for the NCC’s recommendations."

The NCC warns that the decline in natural capital seen over the last 60 years will continue into the future, and is likely to accelerate, unless there is some radical departure from the approaches of the past. WWF’s landmark Living Planet Report issued last year showed that global wildlife populations have declined by more than half in just 40 years. 

Reporting to the Economic Affairs Committee, the NCC has the opportunity to influence long-term economic policy in the UK. Toby Roxburgh added: 

“Restoring natural capital needs leadership. This government has the opportunity to champion this agenda and create a lasting legacy that benefits the economy, environment and people. Time will tell if the Chancellor will seize it”.

The NCC calls on the government, together with other stakeholders, to develop a 25-year plan accompanied by an urgent programme of long-term investment. The report also identifies a range of priority areas of action in which investment – such as woodland planting, peatland restoration, wetland creation, restoring fish stocks coastal habitat creation. These investments, the report explains, will provide substantial returns - reducing economic risks and public sector costs, providing opportunities for business, generating jobs and enhancing quality of life for current and future generations.

The NCC stress that financing arrangements are not the sole responsibility of Treasury. Government must ensure the right incentives are in place (e.g. taxes, subsidies and legislation), but private sector and civil society also have a significant part to play, because they own or are ultimately responsible for the majority of natural assets. With ongoing concern over squeezed public finances, scaling-up efforts to drive private sector investment is more urgent than ever.

Editor’s Notes

WWF is one of the world’s largest independent conservation organisations, with more than five million supporters and a global network active in more than one hundred countries. Through our engagement with the public, businesses and government, we focus on safeguarding the natural world, creating solutions to the most serious environmental issues facing our planet, so that people and nature thrive. Find out more about our work, past and present at wwf.org.uk.

Natural capital refers to the elements of nature – such as our forests, rivers, oceans, land, minerals and the atmosphere – that provide goods and services to people. These include food, raw materials, clean air, water, energy, recreation and protection from hazards. However, although vital to life on earth, nature’s services are often economically ‘invisible’ and consequently ignored in economic, development and investment decisions. 

Toby Roxburgh is available for further comment.

The Natural Capital Committee's third report can be read here http://bit.ly/1ENaPIO

The full Living Planet Report can be seen here: www.wwf.org.uk/livingplanetreport

Channel website: https://www.icaew.com

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