CPA Canada hosts natural capital forum

CPA Canada hosted the inaugural gathering of Natural Capital Innovators in late November.

CPA Canada staff members at the inaugural gathering of Natural Capital Innovators in Toronto. Left to right: Sarah Keyes, Davinder Valeri, Stephenie Fox and Umar Saeed.
Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Salvatore Sacco

Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) hosted the inaugural gathering of Natural Capital Innovators at its Toronto offices in late November.

CPA Canada is a founding partner of the Natural Capital Lab, a national effort to accelerate the measurement and valuation of the country’s natural capital, to support more holistic and informed decision-making. The lab is a four-year initiative that provides a platform for ongoing innovation.

Natural capital refers to the planet's stocks of water, land, air and renewable and non-renewable resources, such as plant and animal species, forests and minerals.

During the two-day Innovation Forum, participants explored the challenges, opportunities and key transition strategies that will shape and align how natural capital can be accounted for. They’re tasked with collaboratively designing, piloting and testing innovative approaches to improve natural capital stewardship in Canada in three streams: corporate, municipal, and federal/provincial/territorial.

The Innovators — a group of economists, accountants, statisticians, ecologists, NGOs, government and business leaders — include CPA Canada’s Stephenie Fox, vice-president of standards; Davinder Valeri, director of Strategy, Risk and Organizational Performance Management, Research, Guidance and Support; and Sarah Keyes, principal in research, guidance and support. Other CPA Canada attendees were Martha Jones Denning and Umar Saeed, both principals in public sector accounting.

“It was so exciting to be with a group of passionate, committed and open-minded professionals at this inaugural event,” says Fox. “When something is accounted for, it is more likely to be considered in decision-making. But when it’s invisible, it goes unmanaged. Without that visibility, drawing down our natural resources — resources that are finite — means there are no penalties when we deplete them.”

Fox adds that natural capital is a part of many Canadian business and government operations. And getting these precious resources accounted for means better potential for long-term sustainability.

“Standard setters have experience in creating the building blocks for high-quality reporting,” she notes. “At some point in the future there will be a need for a common approach to report natural capital in a consistent, comparable way amongst organizations.”

Adds Keyes, referencing the private sector: “You don’t have a business if there isn’t a healthy environment to support it. We need to develop ways that allow business and government leaders to become better stewards of our natural resources through more informed decision-making.”

For more information, visit The Natural Capital Lab blog.

If this is an area of interest to you or your organization, please contact: Monica Sood, principal, sustainability, Research, Guidance & Support.