Agriculture businesses working to improve natural capital, while reducing emissions, will be able to test common measurement frameworks and new incentives under the next phase of the Natural Capital Investment Initiative, which has secured three years of funding from the Macdoch Foundation.

The Natural Capital Investment Initiative is convened by Climateworks Australia in collaboration with agriculture sector leaders representing farming, conservation, research, investment and government. Its first phase, established with support from NAB, developed the proof-of-concept Natural Capital Measurement Catalogue to provide a comprehensive set of natural capital, production and financial measures.

‘We are delighted to have the support of the Macdoch Foundation for the second phase of the Natural Capital Investment Initiative,’ Climateworks Australia CEO Anna Skarbek said. ‘This enables us to build on momentum from phase one, and we expect further industry and government participation to be confirmed in the new year.’

This follows the Natural Capital Roadmap, which Climateworks developed with philanthropic support in 2019, that identified the measurement of natural capital as a crucial enabler of change and provided the basis for the Natural Capital Investment Initiative. Phase one participants have expressed interest in continuing to develop and apply the Catalogue, and this funding can enable that and attract others to join.  

Michelle Gortan, Chief Executive Officer of the Macdoch Foundation, said the Natural Capital Investment Initiative would work in close collaboration with its Farming for the Future initiative.

‘Farming for the Future is a multi-year research and change program that will examine at least 1,500 farms across Australia to establish the link between natural capital management and farm profitability, and other farm business benefits,’ Ms Gortan said.

‘Together, these two programs will help set the groundwork for real change. We are pleased to be able to support Climateworks and the further development of the Natural Capital Measurement Catalogue. The Catalogue is a critical piece that will provide Australia with a consistent framework to measure and value nature, and factor it into climate mitigation solutions.’

The multi-year funding support from the Macdoch Foundation will allow Climateworks to address some of the barriers that currently prevent greater action by business and government on the systemic risks arising from climate change in Australia through the testing and refinement of its Natural Capital Measurement Catalogue.

The funding will enable Climateworks to catalyse the use of the Catalogue with industry to pilot financial incentives for land managers to measure and improve their natural capital.

This will involve collaboration with influential partners across government, finance and the corporate sector to create a consistent, agreed approach for this at the property level.

‘Natural solutions are critical to realising the world’s climate goals alongside rapid decarbonisation,’ said Liam Walsh, System Lead for Food, Land and Oceans at Climateworks.

‘Governments, corporations and financial institutions are increasingly recognising the importance of valuing nature in ways that can also mitigate climate change impacts and achieve sustainability goals.’

Mr Walsh says ‘natural capital’ is a concept gaining global traction, because it can make the value of nature visible to decision-makers in business and government, and in modern financial systems.

Specifically, the Macdoch Foundation funding will support phase two of the Natural Capital Investment Initiative, and allow Climateworks to refine and embed the Catalogue into existing measurement and incentive programs.

Work with partners as part of the program’s next phase will help establish new financial mechanisms for land managers that can improve their property’s natural condition.

The Catalogue is aligned with external programs (both national and global) and will support the Australian food and land sector to be ‘market ready’ – vital if Australia is to be well-positioned following the launch of the Taskforce for Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) in June 2021.

‘Given the high level of interest, engagement and progress that was made in phase one of the program, we are incredibly pleased to confirm we have secured a new multi-year philanthropic funding commitment from the Macdoch Foundation to progress our work in this critical area,’ said Mr Walsh.

‘Simply protecting and restoring natural systems could provide a third of the solution to keep temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius, however, our current market system does not yet take account of the value of nature,’ he said. ‘Unless we integrate nature into the economy and make its value visible, we put the ecosystem upon which life depends at increasing risk.’

Climateworks is currently identifying partners to participate in phase two of the program and encourages interested parties to reach out and join in this endeavour.

Further reading:

Natural Capital Roadmap

Natural Capital Investment Initiative

Natural Capital Measurement Catalogue

For more information contact

Liam Walsh, Climateworks System Lead Food, Land and Oceans