Martijn van der Heide

maatschappelijke waardering, natuurlijk kapitaal, E.F. Schumacher, natuurverhaal, kapitalisme

‘Natuurlijk kapitaal’, als metafoor voor de waarde van natuur, is niet meer weg te denken uit het groene jargon. Het is een term die sterk tot de verbeelding spreekt en veel ingang vindt, maar ook op kritiek kan rekenen. Is ‘natuurlijk kapitaal’ een waas vermomd als inzicht? Of biedt het weldegelijk aanknopingspunten voor een nieuw leidend natuurverhaal, een gedeelde overtuiging?

The value of natural capital

social recognition, natural capital, E.F. Schumacher, nature story, capitalism

‘Natural capital’ is one of the latest newcomers to the lexicon of ecology. It primarily serves as a metaphor for the value of the world’s stocks of natural assets that we benefit from. The concept has gained enthusiastic support among scientists, research institutes and policy makers, but has also been heavily criticized by others who claim that ‘natural capital’ is a dangerous and misleading concept that leads us straight into the abyss. In this opinion article, it is claimed that natural concept is not a symptom of unbridled neoliberal capitalism, as is often alleged by critics. On the contrary, it can serve as a corrective response to it, as it helps to lift the veil of silence that often shrouds discussions about the impact
of human actions on the environment. Moreover, is important to bear in mind that the natural capital approach is not inconsistent nor in conf lict with protecting nature. Even stronger, without invoking any ecological argument it makes much sense to protect the world’s stocks of natural assets, as it might be felt that the maintenance of other living things is important to human satisfaction of well-being. As such, the concept of ‘natural capital’ provides some good starting points for a new leading nature story, a shared conviction. This new story, however, should go well beyond putting a price on nature. By using images and words – provided by, for example, filmmakers, novelists and also landscape architects – a new nature story can be told that that offers perspective and encourages people to change their behavior. Images and words that express something of hope: if we use our natural capital sparingly and sustainably, our future would be much more secure.