• Theme:  Environment
  • Topic: 
  • Experts:  Lisa Eichler, Laura Baroni, Graeme Nicholls

How does natural capital benefit the economy and society?

The objective of this study for the European Environment Agency (EEA) was to review existing evidence on society’s dependence on natural capital (i.e. biodiversity, ecosystems and their services). The study’s findings will feed into the next edition of the EEA’s European State of the Environment Report (SOER) 2020. The project was conducted by Trinomics in collaboration with Collingwood Environmental Planning (project lead) and ran from November 2017 to April 2018.

The first part of the study (led by Trinomics) focussed on three thematic areas: the overall importance of natural capital for society (documenting social, cultural and economic benefits); the dependence of the agricultural sector on ecosystem services (and the linkages between the provision of ecosystem services and genetic, species and landscape diversity); and business approaches to protecting natural capital given this dependency. The second part (led by Collingwood Environmental Planning) reviewed the knowledge base on the contribution of green infrastructure/nature based solutions to sustainability challenges, including evidence on the co-benefits provided by such solutions and the financial justification for green infrastructure investments.


To provide additional illustrations of key findings emerging from the literature review, the team also developed several case studies, for example on:

  • National approaches to the valuation of natural capital,
  • The contribution of natural capital to employment,
  • Business involvement in the management and conservation of biodiversity, and
  • The benefits delivered by green infrastructure projects.