Restoration of natural capital: A key strategy on the path to sustainability
James Blignaut, James Aronson, Rudolf de Groot
Three intertwining braids or strategies to enable transition towards sustainability can be identified, namely: (i) appropriate sustainable technologies, (ii) revising behaviour including reproduction and consumption patterns, and (iii) investment in the restoration of natural capital (RNC). Less explored than the first two, “RNC-thinking” might be the game-changer. Recent evidence suggests that not only is restoration urgently required from a biophysical perspective, but also that it makes eminently good economic sense to make that investment. The alternative to this triple approach is the prevailing paradigm that treats the world as if it were a “business in liquidation”, as pathfinder economist Herman Daly put it. Not only is the restoration of natural capital both ecologically and economically beneficial, as indicated herein with benefit–cost ratios varying between (on average) 0.4 (for coastal systems) and 110 (for coastal wetlands including mangroves) with the majority of ecosystems recording an average of an BC-ratio of about 10, it also holds an important key to unlock future sustainable growth and development trajectories.