They recommend actions for both the government and businesses to overcome barriers to natural capital projects.
The first paper "Key asks for the 25 Year Environment Plan" makes recommendations for the 25 YEP and the government. The second, "Increasing investment in natural capital", explores the current state of play in the natural capital finance market and ways to increase investment. Some of the highlights from both papers include:
- Establishing a biodiversity offsetting framework for developers through planning frameworks with a net gain needed for all projects
- Taking a net gain approach in national infrastructure projects
- Legally binding, ambitious, accessible, quantifiable, time bound, evidence based targets within the 25 YEP as well as "robust action plans to meet them". This would provide certainty for businesses and act as a signal, reinforcing the economic case for investing in natural assets.
- The need for the government to "report to Parliament and an independent statutory scrutiny body", such as a strengthened Natural Capital Committee
- The promotion of corporate natural capital valuation, accounting and reporting
- Help unlocking new markets for ecosystem services, through regulation, fiscal incentives and standards
- Creating a Natural Capital investment fund
- Close coordination between the 25 YEP and the National Adaptation Programme
- A coherent cross-government policy with more coordination and consistency between
departments and policy
- Reforming agricultural subsidy payments following the UK’s exit from the EU, focusing on payments for agri-environmental schemes and projects which deliver public benefit
Aldersgate Group executive director, Nick Molho commented: "Significant investment will be needed from the private sector to improve the state of the UK’s natural environment and meet the goals of the 25 YEP. Whilst the natural capital finance market is currently nascent, innovation from business, investors and communities as well as targeted government intervention can work in tandem to develop its maturity by identifying new revenue models."
These papers follow the recent publication of an advisory report by the Natural Capital Committee, which aimed to steer the government towards the production of the 25 YEP (EB 04-Oct-17).
Defra has remained "committed" to producing the 25 YEP, after a draft was partially leaked to the BBC in April this year (EA 12-Apr-17) and Michael Gove committed last week to publishing it no later than January.