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FEATURE STORYDecember 21, 2022

6th Policy Forum on Natural Capital Data for Better Decision Making

The Natural Capital Policy Forum is the Global Program on Sustainability’s signature annual event. Co-organized with the United Nations Statistics Division, the Forum aims to connect users—primarily the investment community and policy makers—with both data and analytics, and data providers, to share knowledge and experiences on incorporating natural capital accounting and approaches in decision making. 

Held over two days in early November, this year's Policy Forum focused on financing for nature, with discussion on the role of natural capital and ecosystem services data and analytics in investment and policy decisions. Bringing together decision makers, researchers, academics and civil society representatives, emphasis was on connecting users—primarily the investment community and policy makers—with the data and analytics, and the data producers.

The panel’s discussion coalesced around four meaningful actions to fill the nature financing gap.

Improve data and analytics to reflect the needs of public and private actors. This includes developing common metrics, decision-support tools (such as natural capital accounting) and scenarios of nature losses using macro-level approaches to support financing investments in nature. In addition, action-oriented analytics that provide information on how to phase out nature-harming subsidies (and repurpose them) would improve policy coherence in policy and support new investments in nature.

Leverage finance for both nature and climate goals. In the public sector, this would take the form of aligning the ambitions from the Convention on Biodiversity with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at the global level; and harmonizing Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) at the country level. The result would ease public financing of nature-based solutions at the local level, in support of climate mitigation and adaptation activities. In the private sector, efforts such as G20’s Sustainable Finance Working Group are bringing together public regulators with private financial actors to deliver a coherent road map for sustainable finance.

Disclose and track better. Several initiatives, such as the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF); update of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the final report of the Taskforce for Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) and the E.U.’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD); are being introduced to encourage private companies to disclose how their operations affect and are affected by nature-climate. Improving communication and coordination between these efforts, including by sharing terminology and metrics, would make nature-climate disclosures more effective.

Support regulators, finance ministries and industry associations. In the public sector, the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action is undertaking assessments of nature-risks to help policymakers incorporate such losses into sovereign decision-making and investments. In the private sector, efforts like the One Planet Business for Biodiversity are supporting private businesses as they adopt, implement and measure sustainable agricultural practices in their operations. Such professional knowledge sharing networks foster peer learning, which will be critical for transformational change.

You can watch the opening, closing and selected clips from the Forum below.

Opening session

The opening session saw Jean Pesme set out the importance of natural capital to the world economy. He said increasing biodiversity loss affected emerging markets disproportionately.

Maria-Francesca Spatolisano introduced the System of Environmental Economic Accounting (SEEA), a global framework that was adopted by the United Nations Statistical Commission. SEEA offers a tool to monitor, measure and link natural capital and its economic value.

Lee White described how his country has worked to halt the destruction of its forests and making them carbon positive. White said: "What we believe is that if we can make the forests valuable enough, if we can create enough jobs and enough livelihoods, then that really is the only way to buck the trend and to develop whilst maintaining our forests."

Opening presentation

The opening session concluded with a brief presentation prepared by Raffaello Cervigni, Lead Environmental Economist at the World Bank and Alessandra Alfieri, Chief of the Environmental-Economic Accounts Section, at the United Nations Statistics Division.

Cervigni set out two pathways to address the issue of financing for nature. The first pathway was 'greening finance' - making sure that money flowing to harmful investments is diverted back to nature-positive outcomes. 'Greening finance' could be achieved through policy reforms, disclosure and other incentive mechanisms. The second pathway was 'financing green,' which aimed to ensure that nature emerges as a worthy asset class and attracts investment.

Day One: Session One - Latest developments in incorporating nature in financial decision

In this session one participants focused on the latest developments in incorporating nature in financial decisions. Among the speakers featured in this edited highlights video are:

  • Emily McKenzie, Technical Director, Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures 
  • Patricio Sepulveda, Head of Debt Office, Ministry of Finance, Chile 
  • Salima Lamdouar, Senior Research Analyst, 2050 Strategy, AB Arya Partners
  • Charlotte Gardes-Landolfini, Climate Change, Energy & Financial Stability Expert, Monetary and Capital Markets Department, International Monetary Fund

Day One: Session Two - Scaling up nature-based impact investments


This session focused on scaling up nature-based impact investments. Among the speakers featured in this edited highlights video are:

  • Charlotte Kaiser, Head of Impact Finance, BTG Pactual Timberland Investment Group 
  • Thierry Watrin, Green Economy and Climate Change Advisor, Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Rwanda 
  • Madeleine Ronquest, Head of Environmental and Social Risk, Climate Change, FirstRand 
  • Stephen Liberatore, CFA Head of ESG/Impact Investing, Nuveen
  • Jingdong Hua, Vice Chair, International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB)

Day Two: Session One - Shaping policy and institutional enabling environment for natural capital investing

This session focused on shaping the policy and institutional enabling environment for natural capital investing. Among the speakers featured in this edited highlights video are:

  • Rutger Hoekstra, Expert, Metrics for the Future 
  • Onno van den Heuvel, Global Manager, UNDP Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) 
  • Zachary Mwangi Chege, Senior Advisor, Ministry of Finance of Kenya
  • Elizabeth Lien, Senior Advisor, U.S. Treasury Climate Hub 
  • Martin Lok, Executive Director, Capitals Coalition

Day Two: Session Two - The role of Ministries of Finance in enabling natural capital financing

On day two session two participants focused on the role of Ministries of Finance in enabling natural capital financing. Among the speakers featured in this edited highlights video are:

  • Pekka Moren, Special Representative of Finance Minister, Climate Action at Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action, Ministry of Finance, Finland
  • Sam Mugume Koojo, Ag. Assistant Commissioner (Statistics), Macroeconomic Policy Department, Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Uganda 
  • Irene Alvarado-Quesada, Coordinator, Environmental Statistics Unit, Information Management Division, Central Bank Costa Rica 
  • Serina Ng, Deputy Director, Head of Vaccines, Global Health and Climate, HM Treasury, UK
  • Diji Chandrasekharan Behr, Lead Environmental Economist, World Bank

Closing session

Valerie Hickey said it was important to better understand and publicize the ecosystem of data. She said adopting agreed standards would help drive acceptance.

Stefan Schweinfest appealed for better funding of national statistical institutes and said countries' case studies could be a way forward. He added that he had been inspired by Gabon's success in safeguarding its forests. He said: "I was very inspired by this, and I take away from this that we have to find the countries that are willing to work with us and then work with them and move this forward and then use those as good models for others."