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Earth Observation taken during a day pass by the Expedition 40 crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

The Natural Capital Project

Who We Are

The Natural Capital Project pioneers science, technology, and partnerships that enable people and nature to thrive.  

We work to integrate the value nature provides to society into all major decisions. Our ultimate objective is to improve the well-being of all people and nature by motivating greater and more targeted natural capital investments.

Centered at Stanford University, we operate as a partnership between the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the University of Minnesota, the Stockholm Resilience Centre, The Nature Conservancy, and the World Wildlife Fund. We are an interdisciplinary team of academics, software engineers, and real-world professionals all working to make valuing natural capital easier and more accessible to everyone.

More on Our Partnership

 

Sustainable Development Planning

Improving people's lives and protecting the ecosystems we depend on

Livable Cities

Supporting resilient, sustainable, and equitable cities through nature-based solutions.


Our Approach

The world’s ecosystems can be seen as capital assets; if well-managed, their lands, waters, and biodiversity yield a flow of vital life-support services. Relative to other forms of capital, living natural capital is poorly understood and undergoing rapid degradation. Often, the benefits nature generates are widely appreciated only upon their loss. The Natural Capital Project aims to change that paradigm.

Starting with listening, we work with decision-makers to develop nature-based solutions. We use iterative engagement that begins with stakeholders and their needs, so the new science and tools that we develop are immediately relevant and can be incorporated into existing decision processes. We work in a wide array of places and sectors, developing nature-based solutions to problems as varied as: building resilience to climate and coastal hazards in Belize and the Gulf Coast states of the United States; guiding development planning in China, British Columbia, The Bahamas, and Myanmar; managing corporate risk in global sourcing decisions for Unilever; informing impact assessment and permitting for the Colombian Ministry of the Environment; making smart transportation loan decisions by the Inter-American Development Bank across Latin America; targeting investments in forest restoration for IUCN and country governments in Africa. 

In addition to developing the evidence for the power of natural capital approaches to transform decisions, we create software (now downloaded in 180 countries), build capacity through learning exchanges and trainings, and engage leaders to accelerate the uptake and magnify the impact of successes.

SCIENCE

Through cutting-edge ecosystem services science, we map, measure, and value nature's benefits to people. We have created a diverse portfolio of examples where natural capital science is encouraging long-term, strategic investment in nature.

TECHNOLOGY

Through innovative technology like our InVEST software platform, we harness global environmental data to provide decision makers with actionable information for policy, finance, and management decisions.

PARTNERSHIPS

Through our partnerships, we produce tailored results informed by local knowledge. We innovate and build capacity with communities worldwide, engage key leaders, and collaborate to reform institutions so that private, short-term goals will more closely align with society’s long-term goals.