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  • Writer's pictureSandra Velthuis

There is More Than One Capital

As our name suggests, we in Social Value Ireland believe in, and focus in on, social value. We are always striving to reduce inequality and promote wellbeing. This is laudable and important work.


But humans do not operate in isolation. We are dependent on, and have a constant impact on, the natural environment. Sadly, that impact is often negative, as attested by daily news stories about climate change, the biodiversity crisis, the pollution of our air and waterways, and so on.


It is vital, therefore, that we take a more holistic approach and recognise that nature and people are inextricably bound together. We previously talked about the very persuasive Doughnut Economics concept. Another useful framing is the capitals approach. The Capitals Coalition describes itself as 'a global collaboration redefining value to transform decision-making’. It talks of four capitals - natural, social, human and produced - and it brings together the Social and Human Capital Protocol and the Natural Capital Protocol. The relationship between the former and the Social Value Principles was teased out in a 2017 discussion document and continues to evolve as everyone tries to come to grips with the best ways to build a truly sustainable future.


In Ireland, we continue to raise awareness of, and support people to adopt, the social value approach. For those who wish to learn more about the natural capital approach within an Irish context, we urge you to check out the work of Natural Capital Ireland.

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