IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The concept of natural capital


  • Edward B Barbier


The natural environment is now commonly viewed as a form of capital asset, or natural capital. Also included are ecosystems that provide important goods and services to the economy. Managing natural capital has consequences for sustainable development. However, there are contrasting weak versus strong sustainability views, which in turn have implications for ‘green’ accounting. Natural resource-based sovereign wealth funds have emerged as key financial instruments for compensating resource depreciation with greater economy-wide investments. Recent scientific evidence recommends demarcating ‘safe operating spaces’ to limit exploitation of critical global biophysical subsystems or processes. These challenges suggest that the concept of natural capital is pivotal to sound policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Edward B Barbier, 2019. "The concept of natural capital," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 35(1), pages 14-36.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:oxford:v:35:y:2019:i:1:p:14-36.

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Dieter Helm, 2019. "Natural capital: assets, systems, and policies," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 35(1), pages 1-13.
    2. repec:kap:enreec:v:74:y:2019:i:3:d:10.1007_s10640-019-00360-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Barbier, Edward B. & Burgess, Joanne C., 2019. "Sustainable development goal indicators: Analyzing trade-offs and complementarities," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 295-305.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oup:oxford:v:35:y:2019:i:1:p:14-36.. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Oxford University Press). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.