Society understands the value provided by green space, streams, forests and lakes. Far too often, however, these ‘valuations’ can’t be converted into something that business owners, city planners and politicians can easily use for decision-making. As a result, the valuation of natural capital, despite its massive potential to stop or reverse the decline of our dwindling ecosystems, remains an academic or communications exercise.
At first glance, the town of Gibsons on Canada’s West Coast seems an unlikely challenger to this state of affairs. But in this outwardly sleepy town, a change is brewing that is moving the community from ‘valuing’ natural capital to actually doing something about it. The implications are huge.
In fact, Gibsons is now ahead of any other town or city on the continent in its efforts to weave natural capital into the DNA of urban decision-making.
Gibsons is doing three things:
Other municipalities are starting to explore the eco-asset approach.
The city of North Vancouver, for example, recently adopted an updated official community plan which highlights how tracking and recording natural assets, then applying physical asset management approaches to them, leads to better planning decisions.
The city of St. Peters, Missouri, meanwhile, has developed an asset management program and conducted a condition assessment of its natural assets. This, in turn, has led to:
Image credit: Ken Hornbrook, Flickr
Roy Brooke has held leadership positions in Canada, Europe and Africa, in fields including urban and organizational sustainability, national politics, international development, and humanitarian affairs. He is now Principal of Brooke and Associates, a consulting firm that helps organizations and communities maximize social and environmental outcomes. email@example.com.