Arcadis: Developing a guidance for valuing and monetizing natural capital

The Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs commissioned Arcadis and CE Delft to develop guidance for valuing and monetizing natural capital as part of a social cost benefit analysis (SCBA).

The developed guidance offers a framework for valuing and monetizing changes in nature by means of ecosystem services. This guidance is meant as an annex to the exiting official SCBA framework In the Netherlands, to be used by all government funded SCBA.

Currently, such annexes are being developed for specific subjects (capita selecta) in SCBA: social, environmental and natural capital issues. SCBA is a tool that is used to inform decision-makers on the direct and indirect welfare effects of projects and policies.

Natural Capital Protocol used
  • Yes
Impact drivers assessed
  • Fresh water ecosystem use e.g. wetlands, ponds, rivers
  • Impact on biodiversity e.g. impact on species, ecosystems, habitats or genetic diversity
  • Other resource use e.g. volume of minerals extracted, volume of wild fish caught by species
  • Soil pollutants e.g. volume of waste matter discharges and retained in soil over a given period
  • Terrestrial ecosystem use e.g. area of agriculture by type, area of forest plantation by type
  • Water pollutants e.g. volume discharged to receiving water body
  • Water use e.g. volume of ground- or surface water consumed
Organizational Focus
  • Project
  • Product
Valuation Type
  • Qualitative
  • Quantitative
  • Monetary
  • Value to society
Geographical Scope
  • The Netherlands
Dependencies assessed
  • Biodiversity
  • Experience e.g. nature-based recreation, tourism
  • Materials e.g. wood fiber, genetic resources, metals, minerals, plant and animal materials
  • Nutrition e.g. human or animal food
  • Regulation of biological environment e.g. pollination, crop pest control
  • Regulation of physical environment e.g. flood attenuation, water quality regulation
  • Water e.g. fresh or sea water
  • Well-being and spiritual/ethical values e.g. employee satisfaction and stress release, sacred sites and indigenous traditions
Value Chain Boundary
  • Direct operations
  • Upstream
  • Downstream
  • Engineering

Key findings

The guidance helps conduct social cost benefit analyses and incorporates impacts on natural capital as a result of projects and policies implemented in the Netherlands.

In the guidance, a stepwise approach has been followed: 1) determining relevant physical impacts, 2) establishing changes in connected ecosystem services (intermediate and end services and 3) valuation of the changes of ecosystem end services by means of different monetizing techniques.

The guidance gives specific attention to dealing with biodiversity. Biodiversity can partly be incorporated via ecosystem services, but changes in the natural capital stock of biodiversity should be present in the analysis to fully inform decision-making. For this purpose, in the guidance the methodology of so called “nature points” is recommended to use.

In all sections, examples are provided of historic, real SCBA cases in which natural capital has been assessed, commenting on the methodology applied in those cases to illustrate the recommended approach in the guidance. 

More information

Jeroen Klooster ( Senior economist, Arcadis

Jasper Ohm ( Consultant natural capital & ecology, Arcadis

Geert Warringa ( Researcher & consultant, CE Delft