One part of economic theory and sustainable development, Natural Capital is the sum of all resource provided by the planet, and indeed the natural universe, in the form of raw matter, and animal and plant life. In standard economics, these resources are treated as limitless, and because of this, limits are often not imposed on the rate of consumption.

In redefining raw matter as natural capital, the consequence of unsustainable consumption becomes evident. In order to continue to draw from natural reserves, these reserves must be consistently replenished. If a corporation or other party was no longer able to obtain the raw matter to make their product, or run their service, they would be unable to sustain themselves.

Elements of Natural Capital include genetic diversity, protective habitats, clean air, clean water, and adequate food.

In Portland, Oregon, USA, there is a building called the Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center which serves as a marketplace to foster the ideas, goods, and services of a conservation economy.

Related readings: Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution by Paul Hawken/Amory Lovins/L. Hunter Lovins, ISBN: 0316353167.

Mid-Course Correction: Toward a Sustainable Enterprise: The Interface Model by Ray Anderson, ISBN: 0964595354.

See: Triple Bottom Line, Social Capital.