Investing in our natural assets: how government can support business action

A resilient and competitive economy is one that carefully maintains and improves the state of its natural resources.

Our dependency on natural capital is fundamental. It underpins the economy and our health and wellbeing. Soil is a good example of this and one that is particularly under-appreciated. It performs several vital functions such as supporting food production and storing water and carbon, and its ability to do so is lessened as it becomes degraded.

It has been estimated that the costs of soil degradation in England and Wales amount to £1.2bn per year.[1] This has an impact on agricultural production, both in terms of reduced output and increased costs, and the UK’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, flood risk and water quality. Environmental damage therefore feeds directly into costs for government, business and households, whereas investing in natural capital will improve the resilience, health and productivity of our economy.

[1] Cranfield University (2015) The Total Costs of Soils Degradation in England and Wales.