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Six capitals: the REAL returns on restoring our waters

Most people would agree that restoring our wetlands, stream banks and shorelines is “A Good Thing” – places look nicer, bird and fish life come back and so on. But it costs money and takes time – much of it volunteer time.

In a demanding funding environment, how can we justify more comprehensive, strategic and proactive investment in environmental restoration?

Measuring the results of spending time and money on this work yields some startling results. As a result, businesses, nonprofits and government bodies are starting to measure stocks and flows across the six forms of capital shown opposite.

There’s a lot of brilliant work in New Zealand on this, showing for example the measurable employment, skills, social and environmental benefits of work done by nonprofits like Whaingaroa Harbour care in Raglan.

Trust me – it’s not rocket science. You can do it!

Find out here how you can use the six capitals to attract more investment in your ecological restoration project by demonstrating the REAL returns on the financial investment.

Startling stats

  • a US study estimated that investing public money from taxpayers and ratepayers into environmental restoration projects creates 10.4 to 39.7 green jobs for every $US 1 million invested. Compare this with the oil and gas industry, which supports about 5.3 jobs per $US 1 million invested
  • in the Whaingaroa Harbour by Raglan, whitebait started coming back up rural streams within just 2-5 years of farmers planting their denuded banks.

Quotable quote

The global biodiversity crisis is so severe that brilliant scientists, political leaders, eco-warriors and religious gurus can no longer save us from ourselves. The military are powerless. But there may be one last hope for life on earth: accountants.” – Jonathan Watts.

References 

Whaingaroa Harbour Care: http://www.harbourcare.co.nz/

Buchan, D (2007) Not Just Trees in the Ground: The Social and Economic Benefits of Community-led Conservation Projects. WWF-New Zealand, Wellington. http://www.harbourcare.co.nz/wp-content/files/wwfnz_not_just_trees_in_the_ground.pdf

Logan Yonavjak (2014) Now THIS Is What We Call Green Jobs: The Restoration Industry ‘Restores’ The Environment And The Economy. An article at http://www.forbes.com/sites/ashoka/2014/01/08/now-this-is-what-we-call-green-jobs-the-restoration-industry-restores-the-environment-and-the-economy/. See also Todd K. BenDor, T. William Lester, Avery Livengood, Adam Davis and Logan Yonavjak (2013) Exploring and Understanding the Restoration Economy. Downloadable from https://curs.unc.edu/files/2014/01/RestorationEconomy.pdf

Image acknowledgement

The image above is adapted from adapted from that in the reference below by including cultural capital in with social and relationships capital:

IIRC (International Integrated Reporting Council). 2013. Capitals Background Paper for <IR>. March 2013 Downloadable from http://integratedreporting.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/IR-Background-Paper-Capitals.pdf

World-changing reading – two brilliant books by two totally terrific people!

Jane Gleeson-White. 2015. Six Capitals, – or can accountants save the planet? Rethinking capitalism for the twenty-first century. W.W. Norton Publishers, New York, London (p xv). https://janegleesonwhite.com/six-capitals/

Storm Cunningham (2002) The restoration economy: the greatest new growth frontier. Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc., San Francisco. http://www.stormcunningham.com/

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