The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration offers a vital opportunity to advance scaled-up, integrated approaches that reverse ecosystem degradation, biodiversity loss, and climate disruption and deterioration. Combining tools across disciplines is essential to addressing these interwoven, global crises through inclusive, equitable strategies with demonstrable socio-economic benefits.
Tools and initiatives described here, including the EcoHealth network, the System of Environmental Economic Accounting Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA EA) and its application through the INCASE project in Ireland, and the Natural Capital Project, present ready-made approaches to engage with policymakers and stakeholders in a transparent way. These examples are working to yield accurate indicators revealing the true costs and benefits of restoration policies and projects in both environmental and social terms.
We highlight that collaborative efforts, particularly engagement between ecologists, economists, and other stakeholders, are essential to inform the ongoing development of fit-for-purpose natural capital approaches, and that synergies between natural capital and restoration approaches can be further strengthened to raise awareness of, and progress, restoration projects on the scale the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration envisages.
We also reflect on the term “natural capital” which is often misunderstood as implying that monetary metrics should take preference over non-monetary arguments or considerations, thereby presenting a barrier to engagement for some ecologists, environmentalists, and stakeholders.
Natural capital approaches offer us opportunities to track and support the necessary changes to expand and embed the culture of restoration into decision making across sectors, highlighting multiple benefits for society and economy.