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?

How will the selection of Innovators be made?

What is the commitment fee?


1. What is the Natural Capital Lab?

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

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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.

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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.

Your voice is needed. Help us put natural capital on Canadian balance sheets.

If you are interested in participating please review and complete the NCL application form (available August 1st). If you would like to stay informed, sign up for our newsletter.

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4. Who are the Natural Capital Innovators?

The Natural Capital Innovators are group of 40-60 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.

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5. What has the Natural Capital Lab accomplished?

In 2015 NCL engaged over 100 natural capital stakeholders including accountants, financial managers, economists, ecologists, environmentalists, academics, and representatives from industry, government, and civil society. This 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.

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

Recruitment for NCL will occur from August 1st 2016 to September 24th 2016. The application form will be available online August 1st. Applications will be reviewed and participants selected by October 14th.

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 will be held in Toronto, mid November 2016. Attendance at the Innovation Form is required.

Following the Innovation Forum, Natural Capital Innovators will work collaboratively on the specific initiatives identified November.

Note: membership in the Natural Capital Lab is not transferable.

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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.

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

Natural Capital Innovators form the nucleus of the Lab, comprising 40 to 60 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.

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9. How will the selection of Innovators be made?

Online applications are now closed. 

Applications will be reviewed by a subset of the NCL design team, with input from the steering committee. Selection of Innovators is based on the merit of each potential fellow as compared to the selection criteria, while ensuring that the Natural Capital Lab Innovators as a whole reflects a broad diversity of actors and voices that play a vital role in the future of natural capital accounting in Canada.

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10. What is the commitment fee?

The commitment fee covers a small percentage of the overall cost of providing the innovation forum, workshops, learning journeys and other activities of the Natural Capital Lab. The fee ranges from $2000 – $5000 depending on the size of the organization. The commitment fee is to ensure that the applicant finds sufficient personal and organizational value in being a Natural Capital Innovator, and therefore, is willing to commit to the full suite of responsibilities of being a participant.

A limited number of bursaries are available to cover the commitment fee. Applicants who would like to apply for a bursary are encouraged to check the applicable box and provide a case for support in the application form.

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