Frequently Asked Questions


What is the Natural Capital Lab?

Why do we need a Natural Capital Lab?

How can I participate in the Natural Capital Lab?

Who are the Natural Capital Innovators?

What has the Natural Capital Lab accomplished?

What are the timeframes,  process, and expectations for the NCL?

What are the benefits of being a Natural Capital Innovator?

How is the NCL building diversity into the program?


1. What is the Natural Capital Lab?

The Natural Capital Lab (NCL) is co-convened by The Natural Step Canada, Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada, TD Bank Group, The Cooperators, Deloitte, Sustainable Prosperity and the Municipal Natural Asset Initiative.

The NCL will serve as a:

  • Platform for ongoing experimentation, innovation, and collaboration
  • Network to share lessons and knowledge among participating organizations and their stakeholders
  • Channel to spark a new narrative that inspires dialogue and action on key issues and challenges related to natural capital.

We are bringing together a cohort of influential leaders (Natural Capital Innovators) to address current and emerging challenges and generate opportunities to identify, test and scale new initiatives and collaborations.

Back to top

2. Why do we need a Natural Capital Lab?

Natural capital is not a new idea, but the field is fragmented. Important work is being done across the country on better measurement and management, but initiatives are largely disconnected from each other. As a result, the public is largely unaware of the concept, and even interested stakeholders in business and government are faced with a confusing variety of metrics, definitions, and methodologies for valuing natural capital.

No single person or organization has the knowledge or capacity to create and promote the accounting system that the future requires of us. Doing so will require a mix of perspectives (e.g. government, First Nations, industry, non-profit, community group interests, etc.) and the ability to learn and experiment together on innovative practices that can act as stepping-stones towards this future.

Back to top

3. How can I participate in the Natural Capital Lab?

Participants – Natural Capital Innovators – in the Natural Capital Lab will include: representatives of federal, provincial and municipal governments; the accounting, finance, manufacturing, and resource extraction sectors; First Nations; non-profits; academia, actuaries, and economists.

The application period for Natural Capital Innovators is now closed. However, we are always interested in learning about new natural capital initiatives. If you’re working on a project that could be of interest to the Natural Capital Lab, please get in touch.

Back to top

4. Who are the Natural Capital Innovators?

The Natural Capital Innovators are group of 40 Canadian influencers who have a stake in ensuring that:

  • Market signals and incentives are corrected to account for the central role of natural capital in our economy,
  • Canadians are engaged and informed on the value and importance of natural capital,
  • Canadian business and government accounts for natural capital in decision making, and
  • Canada’s economies and communities are positioned for the future.

Natural Capital Innovators will deepen their understanding of diverse stakeholder perspectives and various methods for natural capital accounting. They will build trust, share knowledge, and work together to address shared challenges. The Natural Capital Innovators will co-create and prototype programs and projects that support the transition to a future where Canadian businesses and governments account for natural capital in decision making.

Back to top

5. What has the Natural Capital Lab accomplished?

Between 2015 and 2016, NCL engaged over 100 natural capital stakeholders including accountants, financial managers, economists, ecologists, environmentalists, academics, and representatives from industry, government, and civil society. The first phase of work aimed to map the landscape of the natural capital system in Canada and address the question: “How can we collaborate to improve natural capital measurement, management, and decision-making?”

Through our research it quickly became apparent that many innovative tools, practices, and initiatives already exist. However, barriers such as lack of awareness, low sense of urgency, no clear business case, and the lack of market signals and standard definitions have impeded progress. Meanwhile, a rich network of stakeholders expressed their interest in collaborating towards solutions. These stakeholders identified the need for a unified process to align efforts, innovate, and apply solutions.

In 2016, The Natural Capital Lab welcomed the first cohort of Natural Capital Innovators. Innovators were organized into three workstreams based on their expertise. The three streams include; municipal, corporate and provincial/federal. Each workstream is currently in the process of colabortaively setting priorities and goals.

Back to top

6. What are the timeframes, process, and expectations for the NCL Innovators?

We expect the commitment to be 12-15 days over 12-14 months, as well as some degree of engagement required between meetings (e.g. meeting preparation, communications/liaison with NCL Innovators, work on collaborative initiatives, etc).

The first 2-3 day Innovation Forum workshop was held in November 2016 in Toronto. Following the Innovation Forum, Natural Capital Innovators have committed to work on specific initiatives identified in November.

Back to top

7. What are the benefits of being a Natural Capital Innovator?

Through a series of high-calibre workshops and learning journeys built upon best-practices in social innovation and collaboration, Natural Capital Innovators will receive the following benefits:

  • Develop leading-edge knowledge and skills to collaborate, lead and manage in an increasingly dynamic and complex environment.
  • Glean strategic intelligence and insights about the natural capital space from peers and system-sensing research.
  • Build a strategic and systems-level understanding of natural capital accounting, its players and inter-relationships.
  • Be part of an influential and supportive network of dynamic change-makers committed to creating positive impact and tangible outcomes.
  • Develop and enhance important relationships in an age of increased expectations for transparency and collaboration.
  • Play a major role in a high profile initiative that will help protect and enhance Canada’s Natural Capital.

Back to top

8. How is the NCL building diversity into the program?

Natural Capital Innovators form the nucleus of the Lab, comprising 40 of Canada’s innovators and influencers from industry, government, non-profit organizations, First Nations, academia and community interest groups. Innovators will be selected based on their merit as compared to the selection criteria, as well as consideration for the overall diversity of the group as a whole. Natural Capital Innovators are intended to reflect a broad diversity of actors and voices that play a vital role in the future of natural capital accounting in Canada.

Back to top