Event Summary

Thank you once again to all who were able to attend the 2019 Natural Capital Symposium. We hope you had a wonderful time at the event! To find out more about this year’s event, please click here to view a summary website, or check out our YouTube channel to view videos of keynote talks and other select sessions.

2019 Natural Capital Symposium

March 18-21 | Stanford University

Every year, leaders from around the world come together at the Natural Capital Symposium to drive innovation and empower decisions informed by nature’s benefits to people. The Symposium provides a unique opportunity for scientists, NGO’s, government decision-makers, private industry, and practitioners to converge and collaborate towards our shared goal of a more sustainable, livable planet.

At a GlanceDetailed Agenda

An Evening of Celebration: Spotlight on Latin America

Join us for musical performances, desserts, and dialogue.

Featuring special remarks by Rodolfo Dirzo, Bing Professor in Environmental Science and Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment

Tuesday, March 19th

Bing Concert Hall, Stanford University
Doors open at 7:15, program begins at 7:30
Dessert reception to follow performances.


2019 Boething Lecture: All people, all in: leading the charge for a livable planet

The Natural Capital Project is honored to welcome the Boething Lecture to our 2019 Symposium! The Boething Lecture Series, in honor of John and Susan Boething, addresses forests and the human predicament. The 2019 Boething Lecture speaker is Laura Huffman, Texas Regional Director of The Nature Conservancy.

Moderators: Paul Ehrlich and Gretchen Daily, Stanford University

Join Us:
Wednesday, March 20th
5:00 PM
Paul Brest Hall
Reception to follow

Registration for the Boething Lecture is automatically included in the 2019 Symposium package. For those who will not be attending the Natural Capital Symposium but would like to attend the Boething Lecture, please register for free here.


The science of understanding nature’s benefits to people requires a diverse range of perspectives, and there’s no better place to cultivate interdisciplinary endeavors than at the Natural Capital Symposium. From scientists to software engineers and executives to implementers, our global community meets each March to develop new knowledge and apply it in scalable ways. Join us March 18-21, 2019 at Stanford University to continue our conversation around supporting both people and nature.

With a focus on Sustainable Development and Sustainable, Livable Cities, the Natural Capital Symposium is designed to foster meaningful dialogue across sectors. The Symposium features interactive sessions, topical working groups, and inspiring keynote addresses. In 2018, more than 350 participants from 33 countries attended the event.

Key Themes

The 2019 Natural Capital Symposium is broadly organized around the theme of bringing natural capital information into action. Featured panel sessions will cover regional topics such as opportunities in India and Latin America, as well as pathways to impact through working with multilateral institutions. This year’s event will also feature several other sessions around shared outcomes such as livable cities, sustainable development, and resilience. We will be updating this website on a regular basis with more information about sessions and speakers.

Featured Panels



Plenary: Natural Capital Approaches in India

Monday, March 18th, 9:00am - 10:30am
Paul Brest Hall

As one of the world's fastest growing economies with rich swaths of biodiversity and ecosystems still intact, India represents an exciting, and urgent, opportunity for accelerating uptake of natural capital approaches to link ecosystems and human wellbeing in decisions. Speakers will discuss inspiring science and policy work underway from watersheds to cities, and challenges that must be met in order for India to grow sustainably into the next decades.


  • Bhaskar Vira, Director, University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute
  • Madhu Verma, Professor, Indian Institute of Forest Management
  • Harini Nagendra, Professor of Sustainability, Azim Premji University
  • Seema Paul, Managing Director, India Program of The Nature Conservancy





Plenary: Natural Capital Impact and Technology

Monday, March 18th, 11:00am - 12:00pm
Paul Brest Hall

NatCap is pioneering the science, technology, and partnerships that enable people and nature to thrive. In this session, we will explore how science, technology, and partnerships together can enable understanding of natural capital to fundamentally change decisions. After brief presentations about science and partnerships, the session will feature technology. We will explore the close modern relationship between science, governance, and information technology. The tight coupling of these systems can, and has, caused one to affect the other with sometimes catastrophic results. Indeed, most every human construct has metaphorical pressure points that can be manipulated to affect large change with minimal effort. It is time for us to develop a strategy to understand and use these technological linchpins to affect large-scale positive change towards environmental sustainability


Moderator: Mary Ruckelshaus, Managing Director, Natural Capital Project, Stanford University

  • Anne Guerry, Chief Strategy Officer and Lead Scientist, Natural Capital Project, Stanford University
  • Mary Ruckelshaus, Managing Director, Natural Capital Project, Stanford University
  • Rich Sharp, Software Architect, Natural Capital Project, Stanford University



Plenary: Promoting Green, Inclusive Growth Through Multilateral Development Institutions

Tuesday, March 19th, 1:30pm-2:45pm
Paul Brest Hall

Multilateral Development Banks and Development agencies hold huge potential to promote inclusive and sustainable growth, fight poverty and inequality, and protect the planet. Speakers will discuss ongoing work and opportunities to further amplify approaches for including the values of natural capital in their policies and investments, including harnessing new technologies and data science in easy-to-use tools, standard frameworks and guidance for assessment of green infrastructure approaches, and building capacity among leaders to mainstream these approaches regionally and globally.   

Moderator: Mary Ruckelshaus, Managing Director, Natural Capital Project, Stanford University

  • Greg Watson, Lead Specialist, Natural Capital Lab, Climate Change and Sustainable Development Department, Inter-American Development Bank
    • TITLE: ‘Opportunities to Scale Public and Private Sector Natural Capital Approaches in Latin America and the Caribbean’
  • Zhang Qingfeng, Director, Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture Division, East Asia Regional Department, Asian Development Bank
    • TITLE: ‘Natural Capital Investments and Policies in the Asian Development Bank’
  • Carter Brandon, World Resources Institute, Senior Distinguished Fellow, and outgoing Global Lead Economist, World Bank
    • TITLE: ‘Natural Capital at the World Bank:  Two Wicked Problems’
  • Alessandra Alfieri, Chief, Environmental Economic Accounts Section, Statistics Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations
    • TITLE: "The UN's System of Environmental Economic Accounting (UN-SEEA): Opportunities for Impact'




Plenary: Achievements and Challenges in a Changing Latin America
Logros y retos en una región cambiante

Tuesday, March 19th, 3:00pm-4:15pm
Paul Brest Hall

This session will showcase the incredible advances that have been made in recent years in policy and financing for integrated planning and management of watersheds in the Andes to Amazon region of Latin America. A distinguished panel of experts will discuss the driving forces behind recent policy advances, as well as the growing challenges in a time of rapid political and social change.

Esta sesión demostrará los avances increíbles que se han realizado en los años recientes en políticas y financiamiento para el manejo y planificación integral de cuencas desde los Andes hasta la Amazonía en América Latina. Un panel de expertos distinguidos dialogará sobre las fuerzas detrás los avances políticos, asi como los retos crecientes en una época de cambio político y social.


  • Adrian L. Vogl, Lead Scientist, The Natural Capital Project & Stanford University
  • Luis Fernandez, Executive Director, Center for Amazonian Scientific Innovation-CINCIA and Research Professor of Biology, Wake Forest University
  • Marta Echavarria, Director, EcoDecisión





Keynote: Mark Tercek, President & CEO of the Nature Conservancy

Wednesday, March 20, 9:00am-9:40am
Paul Brest Hall

Mark Tercek is CEO of The Nature Conservancy, the world’s largest conservation organization. He is the co-author of the Washington Post and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling book Nature’s Fortune:  How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Nature.  In his remarks he will explore why TNC is working in cities, how his organization is working to accomplish audacious goals in cities and beyond, and share some thoughts on lessons learned over the course of leading the world’s largest conservation organization.

Moderator: Gretchen Daily, Faculty Director, Natural Capital Project, Stanford University

Keynote: Nik Sekhran, Chief Conservation Officer, World Wildlife Fund 

Wednesday, March 20, 9:45am-10:15am
Paul Brest Hall

Nik Sekhran, WWF’s Chief Conservation Officer, has worked on the ground in over 45 countries in Africa, Asia, Oceania, and Latin America. He came last year to WWF from his position as Director for Sustainable Development at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), leading a team dedicated to advancing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. His talk will feature WWF’s work on building a more sustainable future for nature and people, including approaches to scale engagement around infrastructure financing and development planning around the world. 

Moderator: Chris Field, Director, Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University




    • We are pleased to announce a scholarship initiative to at least partially support the registration and travel costs for attendees from low-income countries or other circumstances where the costs of attending and/or traveling to the event present a barrier to their attendance. The application period for these scholarships has ended. 
    • The number and extent of scholarships given is entirely dependent on the amount of funding we have available to disperse. If you are interested in sponsoring Symposium scholarships, please contact us by email.

Tracks & Sessions

The Natural Capital Symposium runs a full program of sessions from Monday-Wednesday. Thursday has a more flexible schedule, which includes working groups, workshops, and additional training sessions. The full program is split across three simultaneous “tracks.” We expect to release a draft schedule in the coming months. Attendees are encouraged to pick and choose which sessions they would like to attend, across all three tracks. Additional information about each track, can be found below. Session times are subject to change.

Pathways to Impact

The Pathways to Impact track highlights engagements where ecosystem services information has had an impact on a decision, a stakeholder process, or an outcome. This track focuses on work that addresses a real policy window in collaboration with local stakeholders, and where it can be demonstrated—or at least there is good reason to believe—that the ES information will be used to inform decisions. The seven sessions in this track focus on key topics and desired outcomes that are shared across our community of practice.

P1) Global Environmental Assessments to Inform Sustainable Development

Monday, March 18th, 2:00pm-3:30pm
Paul Brest Hall

Abstract: The global biodiversity and human development agendas for beyond 2020 are culminating in several key moments in the next few years: the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) 15th Conference of Parties that will set new targets under the “Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework” in late 2020; policy and finance agreements will be discussed at the World Economic Forum in the coming years to operationalize commitments made at the Sustainable Development Summit in 2018; the Global Environment Facility (GEF) announced the 7th replenishment round of investment for member countries in June 2018, highlighting natural capital approaches for informing lending decisions; all leading up to Rio +30 in 2022, where new commitments will be made to sustainable development. These present key opportunities for information about the current state of natural capital, and predicted impacts of changes in policy, land-use and climate on human well-being to guide the global sustainable development agenda. In the years since the Millennium Assessment, there has been an explosion in both data and technological advances, enabling higher resolution modeling at broader scales. Here we highlight recent and upcoming advances in global modeling to represent where natural capital is currently contributing most to people, on land and in oceans, how future scenarios of change will impact nature’s contribution to people, and how these values of nature affect macroeconomic performance. We conclude with a vision for what continued technological advances will enable in the future.

Moderator: Steve Polasky, University of Minnesota

Featured speakers include:

  • Becky Chaplin-Kramer, Natural Capital Project
  • Darcy Bradley, University of Santa Barbara
  • Justin Johnson, University of Minnesota
  • Dave Thau, World Wildlife Fund

P2) Climate Risk, Infrastructure, and Sustainable Development

Monday, March 18th, 4:00pm-5:30pm
Paul Brest East

Abstract:  Access to infrastructure is essential for supporting human well-being and inclusive development. At the same time, infrastructure is already one of the leading drivers of environmental degradation, and its impacts on the environment are likely to greatly increase over the coming decades, in conjunction with increasing impacts of climate change. How can we influence sustainable infrastructure development to ensure that biodiversity, ecosystem services and climate resilience are priorities as billions are invested in the coming decades? This session will feature recent advances and innovations in addressing tradeoffs between infrastructure development, climate resilience and environmental sustainability.

Moderator: Nirmal Bhagabati, World Wildlife Fund

Featured speakers include:

  • Lisa Mandle, Natural Capital Project
  • Thaddeus Pawlowski, Columbia University
  • Ryan Bartlett, World Wildlife Fund
  • Giuseppe Buscarnera, Northwestern University
  • Ning Liu, Guggenheim Partners
  • Rajiv Sharma, Stanford University

P3) Eye on Latin America I: Success Stories for Ecosystem Services in Policy & Practice
Vision Sobre America Latina I: Historias de éxito sobre servicios ecosistémicos en políticas públicas y prácticas

Tuesday, March 19th, 9:00am-10:30am
Paul Brest East

Abstract: This session will highlight case studies across Latin America where ecosystem services information has played an influential role to build support for the development and implementation of policies, projects, and interventions that target the well-being of natural systems and human communities. Presenters will present case studies using the latest science and tools for ecosystem services, followed by a moderated discussion (30min).

Esta sesión resaltará estudios de caso en América Latina donde la información sobre servicios ecosistémicos ha jugado un rol de influencia para construir el apoyo para su desarrollo e implementación de políticas, proyectos e intervenciones que se enfocan en el bienestar de los sistemas naturales y comunidades humanas. Los presentadores compartirán estudios de caso usando lo mas avanzado en la ciencia y las herramientas para servicios ecosistémicos.

Moderator: Luis Fernandez, Cincia (Peru)

Featured speakers include:

  • Marcelo Guevara, Stanford University
  • Armando Muñante, SUNASS (Peru)
  • Marta Torres, Cincia (Peru) 
  • Nigel Asquith, Fundacion Natura (Bolivia)

P4) Eye on Latin America II: Linking land use and vector-borne disease
Vision Sobre America Latina II: Avances en el uso de la tierra y vectores de enfermedades

Tuesday, March 19th, 11:00am-12:30pm
Paul Brest East

Abstract: Malaria, dengue, Zika and other vector-borne diseases pose a serious public health risk in many Latin American countries. Their prevalence and distribution have been linked to deforestation and land use change in the region, suggesting that future trajectories of development and forest management will influence the burden of disease. In this session, we will bring together experts in disease ecology to explore the latest evidence for the role of nature in vector-borne disease transmission and its implications for land use decisions in Latin America. Featured speakers will present their research, followed by a moderated panel discussion.

Moderators: Lisa Mandle, Natural Capital Project, Stanford University and Erin Mordecai, Stanford University

Featured speakers include: 

  • Anna Stewart-Ibarra, SUNY Upstate Medical University
  • Mattias Piaggio, CATIE, Costa Rica
  • Willy Lescano, UPCH
  • Marissa Childs, Stanford University

P5) Ecosystem Services in the US Forest Service

Wednesday, March 20th, 10:30am-12:00pm
Paul Brest East

Abstract: The concept of ecosystem services has been an integral part of U.S. Forest Service (USFS) land management and policy-making for many years. To underscore this, in 2013, the USFS chartered the National Ecosystem Services Strategic Team to guide the USFS’ work across its 193 M acres of forests and grasslands, with three goals: 1) to integrate nature’s benefits into decision-making, analysis, and priority-setting at local and regional scales, 2) to quantify and communicate the value of resources and impacts of management actions in terms of the benefits provided to people, and 3) to better connect the providers and beneficiaries of ecosystem services. This session will highlight efforts from across the USFS, beginning with a national overview of how the USFS evaluates ecosystem services, provides direction to regions and forests, and guides research. Moving to a regional scale, we will discuss how national-level guidelines are implemented in policy and operations. We will share how ecosystem service concepts are being applied to participatory land management planning and NEPA analyses occurring in CA, OR, and WA, to make clear connections between nature’s benefits, forest conditions, and proposed projects. Next we will highlight an assessment in the Pacific Southwest Region which ties research on ecosystem services with management activities such as post-fire restoration and planning. This study quantifies and values ecosystem services across the four national forests in southern CA and assesses the impacts of fire on services to provide information for post-fire natural resource damage assessments. Then, we will summarize recent efforts to understand cultural ecosystem services provided by national forests, with a focus on approaches for mapping and modeling recreational use in WA. We will conclude with examples of how the USFS is communicating the benefits and value of national forests through infographics, restoration stories, and animations that show how people benefit from forests on a daily basis in CA. This effort seeks to share the benefits of our national forests and the risks from inaction, to incentivize volunteerism and citizen-stewardship, and generate resources to accelerate landscape restoration efforts.

Moderator: Tommie Herbert, US Forest Service

Featured Speakers:

  • Greg Arthaud, US Forest Service, National Lead for Ecosystem Service Research
  • Nikola Smith, US Forest Service, Ecosystem Services Specialist
  • Hugh Safford, US Forest Service and UC Davis, Ecologist
  • Spencer Wood, University of Washington and Natural Capital Project, Research Scientist
  • Sherry Reckler, US Forest Service, Ecosystem Services Program Manager

P6) Urban Ecosystem Services

Wednesday, March 20th, 1:00pm – 2:30pm
Paul Brest East

Abstract: Cities are spearheading an important effort towards global sustainability, establishing themselves as key actors in the fields of biodiversity protection and climate action. Nature-based solutions including urban parks, street trees, raingardens or green roofs are now part of many urban development strategies, given their large potential to address urban challenges: they mitigate flood risk, urban heat, noise pollution, while contributing to people’s mental or physical health. This session will provide examples of the implementation of these solutions in cities around the world focusing on: the myths and realities of the role of nature-based solutions, implementation challenges, and research frontiers in the field of urban ecosystem services.

Moderator: Perrine Hamel, Natural Capital Project, Stanford University 

Featured speakers include:

  • Pascal Mittermaier, The Nature Conservancy 
  • Stuart Allen, Stuart Allen Art Services
  • Maike Hamann, Natural Capital Project, University of Minnesota
  • Dhaval Negandhi, The Nature Conservancy
  • Tong Wu, Chinese Academy of Sciences

P7) San Francisco Bay Resilience

Wednesday, March 20th, 3:00pm-4:30pm
Paul Brest East

Abstract: Coastal cities around the world are at increasing risk from coastal hazards.  San Francisco, California is no different. As sea-levels rise, development pressures increase, and population grows, decision-makers and stakeholders throughout the San Francisco Bay Area are working to ensure the resilience and adaptation of their communities.  One area of increasing interest is the role that natural infrastructure plays in reducing risks from coastal hazards while providing a suite of benefits to people and ecosystems that hardened shorelines do not provide. To help inform the implementation of nature-based strategies for adaptation, and as an early pilot of the new Urban InVEST suite, the Natural Capital Project engaged with two entities in the Bay Area: the Bay Area Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) and the San Mateo County (SMC) Sustainability Office.  Together with these regional and county government bodies, and other local collaborators, we quantified a suite of ecosystem services provided by wetlands, watersheds, seagrass, beaches, and dunes, both currently and under various sea-level rise and adaptation scenarios. Our results for recreation, wave attenuation, carbon storage and sequestration, storm water retention, and habitat quality highlight the value of coastal restoration, strengthen the knowledge base of alternative shoreline management strategies, and link climate and ecosystem service assessments to inform future shoreline management in the Bay Area.  In this session we will hear from partners at BCDC, SMC, The San Francisco Estuary Institute, and the Coastal Conservancy about how ecosystem services approaches and values have the potential to advance conservation and development decisions for a more resilient Bay Area.

Moderator: Jeff Koseff, Stanford University

Discussant: Steve Goldbeck, Bay Area Conservation and Development Commission

Featured speakers include:

  • Katherine Wyatt, Natural Capital Project 
  • Heather Dennis, Bay Area Conservation and Development Commission
  • Jeremy Lowe, San Francisco Estuary Institute
  • Dave Pine, Supervisor, San Mateo County
  • Anne Guerry, Natural Capital Project

New Frontiers

The New Frontiers track focuses on leading edge, experimental, and theoretical work that is still on its way to making an impact. We anticipate many of the topics and projects explored in this track will evolve into Pathways to Impact sessions of their own in future years. Sessions in this track feature robust exchanges of new research, lessons learned, and exciting opportunities at the farthest reaches of natural capital science.

N1) Nature in Cities Roundtable

Monday, March 18th, 2:00pm-3:30pm
Paul Brest West

Abstract:  Nature in cities provides a variety of benefits to urban residents. In this session, we showcase novel research from across the world that explores urban ecosystem services and how these services may contribute to human well-being in the face of global change. The session includes highly applied examples of ecosystem service science in cities, including urban ecosystem service assessments in the global South, and studies that test innovative methods to evaluate perceived benefits of urban green spaces and biodiversity among city dwellers. In addition, we feature examples of how to implement ecosystem services in urban planning processes, focusing on the tools and data that are required, as well as the community engagement and knowledge co-production that informs the planning.  

Moderator:  Maike Hamann, Natural Capital Project, University of Minnesota

Featured speakers include:
  • Carrie Schloss, The Nature Conservancy
  • Steven Whitman, Resilience Planning and Design
  • Léa Tardieu, AgroParis Tech, CIRED
  • Hongxiao Liu, The Natural Capital Project
  • Ashley Gorst, Vivid Economics
  • Alejandra Echeverri, University of British Columbia
  • Muniyandi Balasubramanian, Institute for Social and Economic Change
  • Dan Richards, Natural Capital Singapore

N2) Planning the Urban Ecosystem

Monday, March 18th, 4:00pm-5:30pm
Paul Brest West

Abstract: Cities need healthy urban nature for long-term sustainability and well-being of their inhabitants. In this session different perspectives on the role of natural capital in planning sustainable cities will be presented. Short talks by researchers and practitioners explore the roles of urban nature in cities around the world, as well as the roles of city dwellers to maintain and enhance urban nature. Talks will be followed by an interactive discussion with presenters and the audience, in which research frontiers and best practices for designing and redesigning the social-ecological system of cities of today and tomorrow.

Moderator: Roy Remme, Natural Capital Project, Stanford University

Featured speakers include:
  • Catherine Martineau, Canopy
  • Baolong Han, Chinese Academy of Sciences 
  • Raffaele Lafortezza, University of Hong Kong
  • Eric Lonsdorf, University of Minnesota
  • Davide Geneletti, University of Trento

N3) Sustainable Development Roundtable: Equity and Ecosystem Services

Tuesday, March 19th, 9:00am-10:30am
Paul Brest West

Abstract: This interactive roundtable presents applications around the world in which participants will share information and approaches to integrating natural capital in development planning in sustainable and equitable ways. We will start with a series of rapid presentations, highlighting applications from around the globe and covering multiple dimensions of sustainable development planning — from collaborative approaches to managing public lands critical to freshwater and wetlands ecosystems to practices for including and communicating cultural ecosystem services to participatory research to integrate diverse worldviews and values of nature. Presentations will be followed by open discussion among presenters and audience members. Together, we will share perspectives, exchange lessons learned, and work to identify solutions to obstacles faced in accounting for nature’s values equitably in development decisions.

Moderator: Kelly Meza Prado, Natural Capital Project, University of Minnesota

Featured speakers include: 
  • Jessie Martin, Earth Economics
  • Adeniran Akanni, Ministry of Environment, Nigeria
  • Leah Bremer, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
  • Guillaume Peterson, University of British Columbia, Faculty of Forestry
  • Maíra Ometto Bezerra, Conservation International
  • Isabel Guerrero, Oregon State University
  • Pavit Ramachandran, Asia Development Bank

N4) Filling the Conservation Finance Gap: Where are the Opportunities?

Tuesday, March 19th, 11:00am-12:30pm
Paul Brest West

Abstract: The world of conservation finance has exploded in recent years from green bonds to nextgen family offices, impact investment funds to multilateral banks and the Green Climate Fund. Even global banking giants are forging towards an investment landscape that supports a “triple bottom line” to help heal our planet. And yet all the indicators show our planet is sicker than ever. Our societal challenges are getting more acute, and thousands of endangered species are closer to extinction. Do we have the right investment models that can attract enough mission-driven entrepreneurs to make the impact quickly enough? Or do we need to rethink how we incentivize and finance large scale nature conservation? Perhaps we need new ways to recognize and reward the value of conserving natural ecosystems, as REDD+ does for forest, and other pay-for-performance market places. This panel will discuss the successes and limitations to the current conservation finance landscape as well as practical recommendations that can help turn the tide.

Moderator: Marilyn Waite, Program Officer: Climate and Clean Energy Finance at William and Flora Hewlett Foundation 

Featured speakers include:
  • Mike Korchinsky, WildlifeWorks
  • Greg Watson, Inter-American Development Bank
  • Jennifer Morris, Conservation International
  • Douglas Eger, The Intrinsic Value Exchange

N5) Positive Futures for Transformative Change

Wednesday, March 20th, 10:30am-12:00pm
Paul Brest West

Abstract: It is past time that humanity bends its trajectory and sets course to a safe, just and biodiverse future. The Paris Agreement and UN’s Agenda 2030 provide a target space for sustainable development, but leave the questions of how such a world looks like and how to get there unanswered. The creation of shared visions of desirable futures and development pathways that link with the present provides a powerful tool for navigating transformational change in our societies and economies. In this session we will look at different visioning approaches and discuss recent examples.

Moderator: Jan Kuiper, Natural Capital Project, Stockholm Resilience Center

Featured speakers include:
  • Heather Tallis, The Nature Conservancy
  • Timon McPhearson, The New School 
  • David Iwaniec, Georgia State University
  • Garry Peterson, Stockholm Resilience Center, Stockholm University
  • Elena Bennett, McGill University
  • Katherine Wyatt, Natural Capital Project, Stanford University

N6) Building a Resilient Food System

Wednesday, March 20th, 1:00pm-2:30pm
Paul Brest West

Abstract: Transformative change in food systems is needed to meet globally agreed-upon sustainability goals. While these agreements, like the Sustainable Development Goals, provide excellent targets, they say little about pathways to achieve them. In the same way, the degree of change that is required is very context dependent: in some cases transformation is needed, in others gradual change, in others the ability to keep options open to cope or adapt. Global modeling for sustainability rarely imagines or accounts for the type of changes needed to build a more resilient food system: transforming diets and production systems that can thrive in a changing world. Understanding how local successes, vulnerabilities and capacities for change at a global scale come together helps focus our attention on the kind of change needed in different contexts.

Moderator: Becky Chaplin-Kramer, Natural Capital Project, Stanford University 

Featured speakers include: 
  • Ben Bryant, Natural Capital Project & Water in the West, Stanford University
  • Charlotte Weil, Natural Capital Project, Stanford University
  • Deborah Bossio, The Nature Conservancy
  • Elena Bennett, McGill University

N7) Sustainable Development Lightning Talks

Wednesday, March 20th, 3:00pm-4:30pm
Paul Brest West

Abstract: This session features global stories of research and engagement that address the incorporation of natural capital into sustainable development planning.  Short talks will be followed by interactive discussion.

Moderator: Chris Nootenboom, Natural Capital Project, University of Minnesota

Featured speakers include:

  • Nilanjan Ghosh, World Wildlife Fund, India
  • Heru Komarudin, Center for International Forestry Research
  • Leon Baruah, Viridian Logic
  • Qing Yang, Beijing Normal University and University of South Florida
  • Yu Miao, Tsinghua University 
  • Onil Banerjee, Inter-American Development Bank
  • Martha Rogers, The Nature Conservancy
  • Thomas Polzin, Dow Chemical

Approaches & Applications

The Approaches & Applications track contains a mix of half-day workshops on key topics for practitioners and project teams who are looking to get their own natural capital-based projects underway, as well as more traditional conference sessions with presentations followed by opportunities for discussion. The workshop sessions are led by NatCap staff members and NatCap partners and collaborators, with additional training support also available during open support hours on Thursday.

A1) Getting Started with a Natural Capital Approach

Monday, March 18th, 2:00pm-3:30pm; 4:00pm-5:30pm
Tresidder Memorial Union, Oak Lounge West

Abstract: This session is intended for those who are new to taking a natural capital approach to informing decisions. In the first half of the session, we will discuss ways of approaching a natural capital analysis, and provide illustrative case studies. We will also learn about new IUCN guidance for selecting the appropriate ecosystem service tools to inform biodiversity and conservation planning. The second half of the session will introduce NatCap’s primary software tools, with a focus on the ecosystem service suite InVEST, and provide time for installing these tools. If you are planning to attend either of the Hands-On InVEST sessions, you will need to come prepared with InVEST and a GIS, so bring your laptop if you’d like help installing InVEST, RIOS, OPAL or QGIS software.

Featured speakers include:

  • Stacie Wolny, Natural Capital Project, Stanford University
  • Rachel Neugarten, Conservation International

A2) Technology for Ecosystem Service Applications

Tuesday, March 19th, 9:00am-10:30am
Tresidder Memorial Union, Oak Lounge West

Abstract: The monitoring and modeling of both biodiversity and ecosystem services is being transformed by a number of technological advancements. This transformation has been spurred in large part by the coincidence of three drivers: (1) new, globally available data, (2) novel statistical and modeling approaches, and (3) easier access to high-powered computing resources. This has allowed a number of technologies that were previously too difficult or expensive to employ at high resolution over large spatial extents to become mainstream, including Earth Observation and machine learning. This session will cover some of these advances and the novel ways they are being used to monitor and model biodiversity and ecosystem services, with discussion around future directions and applications.

Moderator: Stefano Ermon, Stanford University

Featured Speakers:

  • Rebecca Chaplin-Kramer, Natural Capital Project, Stanford University and University of Minnesota, “Earth observations for ecosystem services: frontiers for modeling nature and people”
  • Christopher Anderson, Stanford University, “Precision biogeography: mapping tree species with airborne earth observations”
  • Jeffrey Smith, Stanford University, “Old ideas, new tools: “Ecoregions as tools for conservation in a data rich world”
  • Lisa Mandle, Natural Capital Project, Stanford University, “Insights into infrastructure: Mapping dams and reservoirs with satellite imagery and artificial intelligence”

A3) Natural Capital Investment to Support Green Growth

Tuesday, March 19th, 11:00am-12:30pm
Tresidder Memorial Union, Oak Lounge West

Abstract: To harmonize human and nature, China implemented a series of ecological projects and innovative policies to protect and restore natural capital. However, how to support management practice through policy innovation and how to evaluate their effectiveness are the main challenges for realizing green growth. This section will present the practical approaches to conserve and restore natural capital as well as their effectiveness assessment.

Moderator: Hua Zheng, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Featured speakers include:

  • Lingqiao Kong, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Planning of ecological conservation redline in China — a case study in Kaihua county
  • Fei Lu, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Net carbon sequestration effects of China’s typical key ecological restoration projects in 2001-2010
  • Ruonan Li, Chinese Academy of Sciences, An exploration of ecological services tradeoff in restoration programs
  • Cong Li, Xi’an Jiaotong University, Impacts of eco-migration and Relocation Program on rural household livelihood

A4a) Hands-on InVEST: Coastal Resilience Modeling

Tuesday, March 19th, 9:00am-10:30am; 11:00am-12:30pm
Jacobsen-Sorensen Hall 123

Abstract: Coastal ecosystems provide numerous benefits to people, including supporting livelihoods through fishing and tourism as well as reducing risk to coastal hazards by attenuating incoming waves. Yet, competing needs for development can threaten those ecosystems. During this session we will go in-depth with the InVEST Coastal Vulnerability Model after introducing the suite of marine-focused InVEST models that address these trade-offs and highlight the role of healthy ecosystems. The Habitat Risk Assessment model assess the cumulative effect of multiple human activities on ecosystems.  The Recreation and Tourism model explores the value of coastal ecosystems to provide recreation opportunities and support livelihoods in the tourism industry. The Coastal Vulnerability model measures how changes in ecosystems lead to changes in risks from coastal hazards. The goal of this session is to introduce the scientific underpinnings of these models and discuss different contexts in which to apply them. We will also explore the basic structure of InVEST models in general and learn about the InVEST file structure, the user interface, and types of model inputs and outputs. Focusing on the Coastal Vulnerability model, we will build familiarity with running and interpreting results and use exercises designed to illustrate how real-world planning decisions can be informed with quantitative model results.

A4b) Hands-on InVEST: Freshwater Modeling 

Wednesday, March 20th, 10:30am-12:00pm; 1:00pm-2:30pm
Tresidder Memorial Union, Oak Lounge West

Abstract: Freshwater services are among the most important for human well-being, and simple hydrology models can help us start to understand how different parts of a landscape contribute to both pollution and clean water provision, and how these might change under different scenarios of the future. In the first half of this session, we will give an overview of the 4 InVEST freshwater models – SDR (sediment), NDR (nutrient), Annual Water Yield and Seasonal Water Yield – and case studies of their use. In the second half of the session, we will have hands-on time with one of these models, whichever is of most interest to attendees. During hands-on time, we will step through the model’s data needs, run the model together with sample data, and discuss results and application. Please come prepared with the latest InVEST and a GIS installed on your laptop – we will be installing InVEST at the session Getting Started with a Natural Capital Approach on Monday.

A5) Communicating and Visualizing Natural Capital

Wednesday, March 20th, 3:00pm- 4:30pm
Tresidder Memorial Union, Oak Lounge West

Abstract: Powerful, engaging and inspiring ways to communicate ecosystem services assessments, and enhance Natural Capital action. Discover how interactive tools, from webmaps to VR enhance the experience and understanding of ecosystem services – and how accessible tools can help gain interest, understanding and empathy, thus leading to better natural capital decisions. Get inspired by low-tech, high-tech, storytelling and art, and learn more about data visualization in this interactive session. Let us honor all our intelligences and senses to listen, look, and understand – not only with our brains!

Moderator: Charlotte Weil, Natural Capital Project, Stanford University

Featured speakers include:

  • Nicole Newnham, Awavena – on novel ways of experiencing natural capital, through virtual reality
  • Jorge Caballero & Martin Picalla, Cincia (Centro de Innovación Científica Amazónica) – on translating and digitizing collaboratively developed scenarios to InVEST-ready maps: from low-tech to GIS.
  • Ahmed Ahres, Sami Ben Hassen, Harshdeep, and David Malmström, Swiss Institute of Technology – on IPBES Viewer (Global Ecosystem Maps, interactively)
  • Joanna Lin, Natural Capital Project, Stanford University – on InVEST Habitat Risk Assessment Interactive Dashboard
  • Stace Maples & Hannah Wild, Stanford Geospatial Center
  • Günes Yurdakul & Cyril van Schreven, Swiss Institute of Technology – on Green Growth That Works: Book Interactive Viewer
  • Stephen Standridge, Form is Function
  • Anna Muller Queiroz, Stanford University
  • Marcelo Guevara, Natural Capital Project, Stanford University
  • Katie McCutcheon, Interactive Painter

Working Groups

Following the full 3-day program of the Symposium, there will be multiple working groups meeting on Thursday, March 21st. NatCap staff will be available to work with you in what we call our “sandbox” sessions. This is time for you to get hands-on help with model running, feedback about your own work, guidance about using an ecosystem services approach in decisions, or just generally to talk more with us about whatever is on your mind. We also have several working groups and workshops which will be open for Symposium attendees to join if they choose. This year we are offering campus tours of the Hoover Tower, Cantor Art Center, Anderson Collection and the Stanford Walking Tour featuring the history of the Memorial Church, Main Quad and White Plaza.

Many of these sessions have separate RSVPs, as headcounts for each are limited. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Please check each session description for a link to register (at no additional cost).

W1) NatCap Office Hours/Sandbox

Thursday, March 21st, 9:00am-10:30am; 11:00am-12:30pm
Jacobsen Sorensen Hall 138

This session offers drop-in help from Natural Capital Project staff where you can get one-on-one technical support with a project you’ve already started, brainstorm on a project you’re thinking about, learn more about a NatCap tool, or get InVEST set up on your own computer. The session will be staffed by NatCap analysts and software developers with expertise that spans both terrestrial and coastal systems. To assist with identifying staffing needs, if you intend to come to this session, we encourage you to RSVP using the link below, but an RSVP is not mandatory, feel free to just come on by.


W2) Learn through play: Trade-Off! Roads to a Resilient Future

Thursday, March 21st, 9:00am-10:30am; 11:00am-12:30pm
Paul Brest East

We will explore the natural capital approach through a hands-on board game called Trade-Off! Roads to a Resilient Future. In the second half of the session, we will discuss the game, and explore other ways to teach the natural capital approach in a fun, interactive setting. To assist with identifying staffing needs, if you intend to come to this session, we encourage you to RSVP using the link below, but an RSVP is not mandatory, feel free to just come on by.


W3) Google Earth Engine 101A: Introduction to Earth Engine for beginners, part A

Thursday, March 21st, 9:00am-10:30am; 11:00am-12:30pm
HANA Immersive Visualization Environment (HIVE), Huang Engineering Building: 475 Via Ortega, Basement, Stanford, CA 94305

Meet Earth Engine! Google Earth Engine combines a multi-petabyte catalog of satellite imagery and geospatial datasets with planetary-scale analysis capabilities and makes it available for scientists, researchers, and developers to detect changes, map trends, and quantify differences on the Earth’s surface.

The Earth Engine API (application programming interface) provides the ability to create your own algorithms to process raster and vector imagery. This session is geared toward people who would like to analyze satellite and vector data. The session will be hands-on, using the Earth Engine Javascript code editor. The first part of the class will focus on accessing imagery, creating composites, and running analyses over stacks of images. The second half will focus on computing statistics on imagery, creating charts and exporting the results of your analyses.


W4) Hoover Tower Tour

Thursday, March 21st, 9:00am-10:30am; 11:00am-12:30pm; 1:30pm-3:00pm
Meet at Munger Lobby (please wear comfortable walking shoes)

Tour the historic Hoover Tower, witness the vast landscape of Stanford University and explore the archive collection founded by Herbert Hoover before he became President of the United States.


W5) Combining Economics and Ecosystem Services

Thursday, March 21st, 1:30pm-3:00pm; 3:30pm-5:00pm
Jacobsen-Sorensen Hall 138

The environment and the economy are deeply connected; unfortunately, economic models are not sufficiently linked to ES models like InVEST to understand critical management questions. This workshop will begin by discussing the need, general approach and challenges faced in linking economic computable general equilibrium models with high-resolution, spatially explicit ES models. Next, Uris Baldos and Justin Johnson will present recent work with WWF-UK that connects the Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP) model and database to InVEST, highlighting preliminary results that calculate global economic impacts from lost pollination, increased coastal vulnerability and changes in water yield. After that, we will have a presentation from Onil Banerjee that applies the Integrated Economic-Environmental Model (IEEM) Platform to assess economic and ES impacts of green growth strategies in Rwanda. We will then have a broader discussion about possible future work and collaborations, how results like these can be incorporated into decision making processes, and a variety of other topics. We also hope this session will be an opportunity to network and connect participants interested in combining economic models to ES models.

To assist with logistical needs, if you intend to come to this session, we encourage you to RSVP using the link below.


W6) Stanford’s Cantor Art Center & Anderson Collection Tour

Thursday, March 21st, 1:30pm-5:00pm
Meet at Munger Lobby

Tour Stanford’s famous art museums and the largest private collection of Rodin sculptures. To assist with logistics, if you intend to join this activity, we encourage you to RSVP using the link below, but an RSVP is not mandatory. Tour will last from 1:30-5:00pm (please note we will miss the 3:00pm break however, the Cantor Center has a cafe). We will take the Marguerite to the museums however, please wear comfortable walking shoes.


W7) Stanford Walking Tour

Thursday, March 21st, 3:30pm-5:00pm
Meet in front of Stanford Visitor Center: 295 Galvez Street

A student guided tour exploring the highlights of Stanford’s beautiful campus including The Main Quad, Memorial Church, Engineering Quad and White Plaza. Tour last approximately 70 minutes (please wear comfortable walking shoes).


Special Topics

S1) Climate Resilience and Risk

Wednesday, March 20th, 10:30am-12:00pm
Jacobsen-Sorensen Hall 123

Abstract: Climate impacts on communities are increasing, ranging from more intense coastal storms, riverine flooding and droughts, rising temperatures, to emergence of mosquito-borne and other diseases.  As more people have direct exposure to these risks, the need for building in social-ecological resilience is becoming more actue. Speakers in this session will discuss documented climate impacts from global to local levels, and how they are playing out in community response through diverse approaches.  Innovative co-development processes and engagement of non-traditional urban populations in designing climate resilient strategies and futures offer hope that increased awareness can lead to constructive action. Short presentations will be followed by lively discussion.

Moderator: Mary Ruckelshaus, Natural Capital Project

Featured Speakers:

  • Peter Kareiva, UCLA Institute on the Environment and Sustainability
  • Charlotte Weil, Natural Capital Project
  • Carter Brandon, World Resources Institute

S2) Conservation Finance in US Forests

Wednesday, March 20th, 1:00pm-2:30pm
Jacobsen-Sorensen Hall 123

Abstract: This panel will discuss challenges facing working landscapes, both public and privately owned, and opportunities for private investment to play a role in scalable solutions. We will consider the role and interest of the federal government in supporting innovative finance for conservation. We will provide specific examples of recent transactions and future potential directions.

Featured Speakers:

  • Tommie Herbert, US Forest Service
  • Kari Cohen, US Forest Service
  • Ricardo Bayon, Encourage Capital
  • Zach Knight, Blue Forest Conservation

S3) InVEST in Practice: Case Studies from Around the World

Wednesday, March 20th, 3:00pm-4:30pm
Jacobsen-Sorensen Hall 123

Abstract: InVEST in Practice features a diverse set of case studies where InVEST was used to answer questions related to land use change, economic valuation of natural areas, inclusion of ES in watershed management, and more.  Case studies span a breadth of geographies (e.g. Africa, India, Central America, USA, China) and feature a number of different models including blue carbon, sediment, water yield, recreation, and others.  The session will include short talks from a number of presenters followed by Q&A.

Moderator: Nirmal Bhagabati, World Wildlife Fund – US

Featured Speakers:

  • Marcello Hernandez-Blanco, Economic Valuation of the Ecosystem Services Provided by the Mangroves of the Gulf of Nicoya using a hybrid methodology
  • Kwadwo Kyenkyehene Kusi, Prospective evaluation of the impact of land-use change on ecosystem services in the Ourika watershed, Morocco
  • Muniyandi Balasubramania, Economic value and Mapping of Natural Capital: The Case of Three Protected Areas in India
  • Tiantian Ma, Four decades’ dynamics of coastal blue carbon storage driven by land use/land cover transformation under natural and anthropogenic processes in the Yellow River Delta, China
  • Joan U. Ureta, Stormwater Management and Water Quality: Using Invest Model to Estimate BMPs Contribution at a Landscape Level
  • Lucas Clay, Carbon Sequestration in South Carolina Forests: How Land Use Change Affects Carbon Storage
  • Deissy Andrea Arango Gonzalez, Pilot case: Application of a route for the inclusion of ecosystem services in planning in Ariari river basin – Meta Colombia

Venue and transportation

Munger Building 4, 555 Salvatierra St, Stanford, CA 94305, USA

Munger Building 4, 555 Salvatierra St, Stanford, CA 94305, USA

The Natural Capital Symposium will be held at the Munger Conference Center, on the campus of Stanford University.

555 Salvatierra Way
Stanford, CA 94305

Navigating the Venue and Shuttle Info


To get there by Marguerite Shuttle, take the X or Y to Campus Drive & Alvarado, then walk toward the center of campus on Salvatierra Way. This will take you right into the Rehnquist Courtyard, between Paul Brest Hall and Jacobson-Sorensen Hall. If you are staying at the Sheraton Palo Alto, you can catch the Marguerite Shuttle at the Palo Alto Transit Center (the Palo Alto Caltrain Station). The X and Y shuttles pick passengers up from the driveway adjacent to the southbound platform. Take the Y shuttle to Campus Drive & Alvarado.


Please be careful to observe all posted signs! An “A” parking pass can be used for any parking spot labeled “A” or “C” but cannot be used at spots with metered or pay parking. The two parking lots closest to the Munger Conference Center are the subterranean Wilbur Field Garage at Campus Drive East and Arguello Mall, and the Tresidder Lot near Tresidder Union and the Faculty Club, off Mayfield Ave. 

Parking Fee Hours 

Wilbur Field Garage: Monday–Friday, 6am–4pm. 
Tresidder Parking Lots: Monday–Friday, 8am–4pm. 

You are free to park in those areas after enforcement hours. 
For more information on Parking Rates and How to Pay for Visitor Parking, Click Here.

Map of Munger Conference Center



Stanford University is easily accessible from both the San Francisco (SFO) and San Jose (SJC) Airports. Please click here for directions to/from area airports to Stanford. Stanford campus is located near the Palo Alto Caltrain station. There are free “Marguerite” shuttles that run from the station to locations across campus throughout the day. The X and Y shuttles stop very close to Paul Brest Hall, the location of the Munger Conference Center, epicenter of the Natural Capital Symposium. Bicycle rentals are available from the Campus Bike Shop.



A block of rooms has been set aside at the hotel properties listed below and can be reserved by using the links below. If booking by phone, ask for rooms in the 2019 Natural Capital Symposium block. Reservations must be booked no later than Feb. 17, 2019 to be a part of these blocks.

Book your stay

If you would prefer to stay elsewhere, we encourage you to search availability at other nearby hotels or the many Airbnb options in the area.


2019 Natural Capital Symposium Timeline:

  1. September 2018:
    Registration Opens
    Call for Abstracts
    Scholarship Program Applications Open
  2. November 5th
    Abstract submission deadline
  3. November 30th
    Scholarship application deadline
  4. December 21st
    Early-bird registration deadline
  5. March 7th
    Registration deadline
    Poster submission deadline
  6. March 18-21, 2019
    Natural Capital Symposium
    Munger Conference Center
    Stanford University

Visit our YouTube page to see more of last year’s event, and join in on this year’s conversation with #NatCap2019.

Watch this space for more information on the 2019 Symposium as the date draws closer!


Send us a message at natcap2019@gmail.com, or fill out the form.

Curious about our past Symposium events? Check out the 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015 event pages.