Natural Capital Symposium 2018

Over 350 people from 33 countries converged at Stanford University

Bringing together leaders; focusing on solutions

New Partnerships, Next-Level Collaboration

Thanks to all who came together for the 2018 Natural Capital Project Symposium, our annual gathering of innovators working to incorporate the value of nature into decision-making. More than 350 participants from 33 countries attended this year, generously sharing their best practices, data, tools and lessons-learned about advancing investment in natural capital to improve the well-being of people and nature.

For those who couldn’t be there, we recorded a series of moderator takeaways as well as full video of keynote speeches, which are all available on our YouTube page. You can also get a feel for the conversation by catching up on the Twitter chatter at #NatCap2018, or viewing photos from the event in the albums below.

Collaboration – across sectors, geographies, disciplines, and institutions – was a key message at this year’s Symposium, where leaders focused on breaking down barriers, pushing the frontiers of science, and using understanding of nature’s benefits to people to inform decisions.  

“NatCap is a gem in recognizing the importance of collaboration across sectors. We are not going to solve the big problems around the world unless we learn to collaborate,” stressed John Hennessey, Stanford’s 10th president, during comments delivered at the Symposium’s highlight event Tuesday night at Bing Concert Hall.

That night we celebrated the addition of our newest partners and long-time collaborators: The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). After a decade of working with NatCap scientists, the Academy has joined Stanford University, the University of Minnesota, The Nature Conservancy and World Wildlife Fund as part of our core partnership. CAS brings the expertise and research power of their world-class institution to NatCap. This year they also brought a large delegation to participate in the Symposium, with city officials from three provinces joining CAS scientists to discuss China’s commitment and progress made toward creating a “21st Century Ecological Civilization.” [Read related coverage from Stanford News Service.]  

Each year, the Symposium brings leaders from academia, business, government, and nongovernmental organizations to focus on the science behind nature’s contributions to society. Centered on innovative, practical approaches to advance natural capital-based decision-making, participants tackled issues from climate change resilience to sustainable development.  

Ending on a note of hope, keynote speaker Jane Lubchenco (Oregon State University Professor and former Administrator of NOAA) shared a call to action. “Make no mistake, the challenges are incredibly daunting. However, we are all here together because we feel it’s really important for us to tackle those challenges” she said. “Civil society and governments need science…and we have strong evidence that science can actually help drive change…there is no better time than now: it’s time to up the ante.”

For more information about this year’s Symposium topics, click here.


“The Power of Network and Community,” Mary Ruckelshaus kicks off #NatCap2018

Chinese cultural performances at NatCap2018’s Special Evening Reception

TNC’s Mark Tercek on “Five Key Things We Need to Do to Close the Conservation Funding Gap”

Overheard at #NatCap2018


“Marine reserves are climate reserves” that can protect biodiversity, recover depleted fisheries, protect multiple habitats and enhance resistance and resilience. @JaneLubchenco at #NatCap2018 @NatCapProject


Impressed by creativity among participants #IPBES workshop visioning positive nature futures at #NatCap2018 So take note: Bright futures ahead!


Advice from an audience member at the “Practical Academia” session at #NatCap2018: If you want to be effective and have impact, then “adopt” an (elected) official. Take them to lunch, explain your science, provide ongoing scientific support. Trust is built over time.


The power of the network at #NatCap2018 – an impressive smattering of “information providers”, “implementers”, and “story-tellers” – to spread the message and approaches for integrating nature’s benefits into decisions.


“I’m a realist. I know that collaboration across sectors, industries, and international time zones can be tricky. But we have to overcome these challenges to unlock progress.” – @MarkTercek#NatCap2018


Fashion industry and mining working with herders to change how cashmere production affects rangeland in the Gobi, Mongolia. The Sustainable Cashmere Project is just so cool #NatCap2018

Photo Gallery

Around the Symposium

Cultural Performances and Reception at the Bing Concert Hall