Skip to main content

UK Natural Capital Committee Reports/Documents and Working papers

A message from the Chair - Professor Dieter Helm 

The commitment “to be the first generation to leave the natural environment of England in a better state than it inherited” was made in the 2011 Natural Environment White Paper, ‘The Natural Choice’. The world’s first Natural Capital Committee (NCC) was then established in 2012 to “advise the Government on the state of natural capital in England.” Over the past nine years and over its two terms, the NCC has advised seven Defra Secretaries of State on natural capital and published extensive, high impact advice 

The Committee’s work has transformed the nation’s understanding of the importance of natural capital for economic prosperity and human wellbeing, with natural capital principles fully entrenched into government policy, all while keeping within and delivering its Terms of Reference in full . The Committee’s greatest achievement is recommending a long-term, 25 Year Environment Plan (25 YEP) to protect and improve the environment . In 2018, the then Prime Minister launched the 25 YEP, following further advice from the NCC.

The 25 YEP is a huge achievement – however, the absence of progress since 2011 is more notable than the successes . The NCC was specifically requested to provide scrutiny of the 25 YEP annual Progress Reports, paving the way for the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) to undertake this function in the future . The Committee’s assessment of government’s first two Progress Reports highlights the need for natural capital asset-based metrics and a comprehensive baseline census to effectively report on progress . In 2019, the Committee set out in its detailed advice to government how this should be conducted, and subsequently repeated on a five-year cycle . These building blocks are essential if the objectives of the 25 YEP are to be met.

This is a pivotal moment with the most significant environmental legislation in a generation passing through Parliament . The Environment Bill will place the 25 YEP on a statutory footing, establish long-term, legally binding targets for environmental improvement, and create an independent body – the OEP – to hold government to account on progress against its environmental objectives . The NCC has advised that the Environment Bill should go further by establishing a framework for statutory interim targets and replace the biodiversity net gain with environmental net gain . Only an environmental net gain approach in planning and development will ensure that aggregate natural capital is maintained and enhanced . Without these changes, there is a real danger that this once in a lifetime opportunity to legislate for improving England’s natural environment and realise the huge economic opportunities that this presents will be lost.

Let me conclude by thanking all of the members who have served on the NCC for the last nine years – and our secretariat – giving their time, energy and commitment generously and putting in effort far beyond what is required of them.

Please find below NCC Publications from 2012 - 2020


State of Natural Capital Committee Annual Report 2019 - Sixth Report to the Economic Affairs Committee of the Cabinet

Advice on soil management  ‌ ‌ - May 2019
Marine and the 25 Year Environmental Plan- May 2019

The NCC published two advice papers on net environmental gain . The first was published in May 2019 and it introduced the approach in detail following Defra’s net gain consultation in December 2018 .The second (published in September 2019), builds on the previous advice and it answers questions commissioned by Defra on broad principles, metrics and delivery of net environmental gain.  Both papers address questions related to marine net environmental gain.

Net enviornmental gain: The Natural Capital Committee's response to Defra's commission‌ - May 2019

Natural Capital Committee advice to government on net environmental gain - September 2019

The Natural Capital Committee's Response to the 25 year Environment Plan Progress Report - September 2019
The Natural Capital Committee's advice on an environmental baseline census of natural capital stocks: an essential foundation for the government's 25 Year Environment Plan - September 2019
Natural Capital terminology - August 2019




Natural Capital Committee Protecting and Improving Natural Capital for Propserity and Wellbeing - January 2015 - Third Annual Report

Natural Capital Committee research improving cost benefit analysis guidance - February 2015

Natural Capital Committee research: corporate natural capital accounting - January 2015 - The Framework was developed by the NCC, working with eftec, RSPC and PwC

 Over the course of 2014 this framework was piloted with four major landowners

Natural Capital Committee research: investing in natural capital (January 2015)

NCC Discussion paper: Economic growth and natural capital - September 2015
Advice to Government on Research Priorities - Advice to Government on Research Priorities - Revised September 2015
The State of Natural Capital - Protecting and Improving Natural Capital for Prosperity and Wellbeing‌ - Third report to the Economics Affairs Committee. Natural Capital Committee
The government's response to the NCC third State of Natural Capital report 

Reports from research projects carried out in the Committee’s initial term (2012 to 2015) to develop metrics and assess risks to natural capital . These projects have informed the summary presented in the second state of natural capital report: - 

Natural Capital Committee research: developing metrics for natural capital