The Dutch government and civil society focus on a further greening of the economy, including the preservation of valuable biodiversity and sustainable use of nature. Nature is the basis of several economic activities, and therefore nature is also referred to as a form of (business) capital, i.e. natural capital.
This project focuses on international supply chains of raw materials for the Dutch economy, and food in particular. This priority is in line with the government's response to the WRR advice on food policy: "making the food chain more sustainable is necessary in view of the current effects of the food chain on biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions and use of natural resources". Also this advice on food policy set out the need to put in other instruments by the government, because "the scope of legal and financial instruments is limited".
Until now making trade more sustainable is largely done through the use of voluntary sustainability standards, which are used by companies to certify both the production and marketing of (organic) materials and provide a sustainability label. But slowly there are also more binding instruments in the picture, for example, from Europe (FLEGT, non-financial reporting) and the EU endorsed OECD guidelines for multinational companies.
The concrete questions for this project, include the ways in which companies integrate the sustainable management of natural capital in their commodity chains, and what benefits to businesses are associated with it. And what are the, possible new instrument for the Dutch government to stimulate companies to use natural capital more sustainably. An ever recurring issue concerns the balance between compulsory and voluntary instruments, between them with all kinds of gradation. What works well or not? And what are the limits to the current instruments, especially in the light that not all relevant companies be reached?