November 9, 2021

Natural Capital is Missing in Infrastructure Investments

Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

While congressional leaders debate trillions of dollars of federal spending, they have a critical blind spot. Discussions about where to focus investments in infrastructure and what to build are not informed by a complete accounting of the nation’s assets, leaving out many critical services that nature provides, write Stephen Posner, director of policy with the Gund Institute for Environment at the University of Vermont, and Lydia Olander, director of the Nicholas Institute's Ecosystem Services Program.

In an op-ed for The Hill, Posner and Olander write that a better accounting system that links economic activity and the environment would enable smarter policy decisions—potentially saving billions and improving the well-being of communities. The U.S. has lagged behind other countries in utilizing natural capital accounting to guide large-scale economic decisions, but efforts are now underway by a group of experts from the private sector, universities, government agencies, and NGOs.