Rising to the challenge of responsible natural capital investment

SRUC supports the principles for more responsible investment in natural capital.


The focus of an SRUC Challenge Centre is firmly in the spotlight as the Scottish Government pushes for more responsible investment in natural capital.

The launch of the Interim Principles for Responsible Investment in Natural Capital follows last year’s COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.

Making the announcement, Mairi McAllan MSP, Minister for Environment and Land Reform, cited the support and advice on developing the principles that has come from a number of groups supported by SRUC’s Thriving Natural Capital Challenge Centre.

These include the Scottish Forum on Natural Capital (Professor Wayne Powell, SRUC Principal and Chief Executive, sits on this), the Scottish Nature Finance Pioneers network (which Dr Hannah Rudman co-leads), the Just Transition Commission (Professor Mark Reed is a Commissioner), the Peatland Code (Professor Reed is on its Executive Board and Dr Rudman on its Technical Advisory Board) and the Scottish Land Commission, which has been working closely with SRUC on a number of projects that fed into the development of the Principles. 

The announcement comes amid growing concern over land grabs from companies seeking to invest in forestry. COP26 focussed international attention on Scotland’s natural capital, and the country has seen a dramatic rise in land values, driven in part by natural capital investors’ interest in land that can be used for productive cropping, forestry, conservation, amenity and other ecosystem services.

New research from SRUC has shown that lower capability agricultural land in Scotland, which Is often used for livestock production, increased in value by over 60 per cent in 2021 (to a level 30 times higher than a decade ago).

Ms McAllan said: “This investment is welcome and necessary, but it must be responsible. This is why during COP26 we emphasised our ambition to deliver a values-led and high-integrity market for natural capital. Responsible investment that delivers a wide range of our environmental, social and economic policy priorities; that is high integrity so that it verifiably restores and enhances nature; and that is genuinely values-led so that it supports a Just Transition and involves and benefits communities.”

Prof Powell said: “The principles have been developed as an action of the National Strategy for Economic Transformation. This is an important positioning that underpins natural capital’s huge importance to Scotland, and which SRUC’s Thriving Natural Capital Challenge Centre’s work focuses on. The approach will bring significant opportunity across our natural economy in terms of increased investment in good green jobs and fair work in land management and in the supporting fintech and agritech sectors.”

For an introduction to the concept of natural capital and how it can thrive, catch up with Dr Hannah Rudman’s Bigger Picture interview, recorded in March for SRUC Alumni.

Posted by SRUC on 11/04/2022

Tags: Agriculture, Climate and Environment, Forestry
Categories: Natural Economy