2018 Natural Capital Symposium

March 19-22 | Stanford University
The Natural Capital Symposium is a major convening of leaders advancing the science and practice of incorporating nature’s diverse values into decisions. The event runs a full program of sessions from Monday-Wednesday. Thursday has a more flexible schedule, which includes working groups and additional training sessions. The full program is split across three simultaneous tracks: Pathways to Impact, New Frontiers, and Approaches & Applications. Attendees are encouraged to pick and choose which sessions they would like to attend, across all three tracks.
Detailed AgendaSchedule and Maps

Key Themes

The 2018 Natural Capital Symposium is organized two central themes: Livable Cities, and Sustainable Development. In addition to multiple sessions focused on the key themes, sessions will also center around the shared outcomes of Securing Freshwater, Coastal Climate Resilience, and Creating Standards for the Private Sector.

About the Livable Cities Theme

The Livable Cities program of the Natural Capital Project supports researchers and practitioners in evaluating the costs and benefits of nature-based solutions in cities. We aim to provide knowledge and tools critical to the governance and planning of resilient, sustainable, and equitable cities, supporting both existing urban development and future growth. Our work is organized around three themes: development of tools and methods to quantify the supply and value of urban ecosystem services, analysis of equity issues associated with the management of nature-based solutions, and co-production of approaches that demonstrate how information on nature-based solutions can inform practice at local, regional, and global scales.

About the Sustainable Development Theme

Under the Natural Capital Project’s Sustainable Development Planning outcome, we aim to make integration of nature’s values into development decisions commonplace. We envision a world in which government plans and public- and private-sector investments secure and enhance ecosystem services, leading to more sustainable, resilient and equitable development. We collaborate with government planners, private-sector partners, civil society organizations and researchers to 1) mainstream natural capital into development planning, spatial planning, and infrastructure investment decisions; 2) design and implement policy and finance mechanisms to incentivize the conservation of ecosystem services; and 3) produce accessible science and tools for linking natural capital to human health, livelihoods, and other relevant endpoints for development decisions. We look forward to joining you at the 2018 Symposium to exchange ideas and success stories, identify opportunities and advance solutions to shared challenges around this theme.

Keynote Speakers

John Hennessy

John Hennessy

Director of the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and 10th President of Stanford University

Professor Hennessy initiated the MIPS project at Stanford in 1981, MIPS is a high- performance Reduced Instruction Set Computer (RISC), built in VLSI. MIPS was one of the first three experimental RISC architectures. In addition to his role in the basic research, Hennessy played a key role in transferring this technology to industry. During a sabbatical leave from Stanford in 1984-85, he cofounded MIPS Computer Systems (later MIPS Technologies Inc. and now part of Imagination Technologies), which specializes in the production of chips based on these concepts. He also led the Stanford DASH (Distributed Architecture for Shared Memory) multiprocessor project. DASH was the first scalable shared memory multiprocessor with hardware-supported cache coherence. More recently, he has been involved in FLASH (FLexible Architecture for Shared Memory), which is designed to support different communication and coherency approaches in large-scale shared-memory multiprocessors. In the 1990s, he served as the Founding Chairman of the Board of Atheros, an early wireless chipset company, now part of Qualcomm. Hennessy is also the coauthor of two widely used textbooks in computer architecture.

In addition to his work as a Professor at Stanford, he has served as Chair of the Department of Computer Science (1994-96), Dean of the School of Engineering (1996-99), Provost (1999-2000), and President (2000-2016). He is currently the Director of the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program, which each year will select 100 new graduate scholars from around the world to receive a full scholarship (with stipend) to pursue a wide-ranging graduate education at Stanford, with the goal of developing a new generation of global leaders.

Dr. Jane Lubchenco

Dr. Jane Lubchenco

University Distinguished Professor at Oregon State University

Dr. Jane Lubchenco, University Distinguished Professor at Oregon State University, is an environmental scientist with expertise in the ocean, climate change, and interactions between the environment and human well-being. Nominated by President Obama as part of his ‘Science Dream Team,’ she served as the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from 2009-2013 where she was instrumental in helping craft the U.S. National Ocean Policy and returning fisheries to sustainability and profitability. She also served as the first U.S. Science Envoy for the Ocean with the U.S. State Department (2014-2016). With a Ph.D. in ecology from Harvard University, she has eight publications recognized as “Science Citation Classics.” She has been elected to numerous academies of science including the National Academy of Sciences and has received many awards including a MacArthur “genius” award, 20 honorary doctorates, and the National Academy of Sciences’ Public Welfare Medal (the most prestigious award given by the Academy). She was named “2010 Newsmaker of the Year” by the journal Nature. As president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), she proposed the concept of ‘a social contract for scientists’ in which scientists pursue and share knowledge that is relevant to society’s most pressing problems and do so with transparency, honesty and humility. She co-founded three organizations that enable scientists to engage more effectively with society – the Leopold Leadership Program, COMPASS, and Climate Central. She is passionate about enjoying the natural world, pursuing new scientific frontiers that help solve societal problems, and helping scientists engage effectively with citizens, policy-makers, business leaders and society.

Emily McKenzie

Emily McKenzie

Chief Adviser on Economics and Sustainability, WWF Global Science Team

Emily McKenzie is Chief Adviser on Economics and Sustainability in the WWF Global Science Team. Emily leads work at the science-policy interface on the Leadership Team of the Natural Capital Project. She is on the Advisory Panel of the Natural Capital Coalition with over 250 member organisations working to include natural capital in business decision making. She has worked in over twenty countries helping governments and businesses to improve decision-making, and has published on the science-policy interface, scenarios and ecological economics. Prior to working with WWF and the Natural Capital Project, Emily worked as an economist in the United Kingdom, the South Pacific and Caribbean, advising the UK Government, UK Overseas Territories and Pacific Island nations on the use of economics for environmental policy and conservation. Emily received Master’s degrees in International Policy Studies from Stanford University and Economics from Cambridge University

Rich Sharp

Rich Sharp

Software Architect, Natural Capital Project

Rich Sharp leads the software development projects that support ecosystem service assement and planning at the Natural Capital Project. Previously he was an assistant professor of computer science at St. Lawrence University and earned his Ph.D. in computer science from The Ohio State University. His research interests include developing computational software for natural science applications, high performance computing applications, cloud computing, and scientific visualization.

Pavan Sukhdev

Pavan Sukhdev

President, WWF International

Pavan Sukhdev is a scientist by education, an international banker by training, and an environmental economist by passion. His interest and many years of work in sustainability and the invisible economics of nature led to his appointment to head the United Nations’ “Green Economy Initiative” and to lead the G8+5 study TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity).

In his book ‘Corporation 2020’, which he wrote while he was the McCluskey Fellow at Yale University, he envisioned tomorrow’s corporation as a producer of not just profits for shareholders, but value for all stakeholders, a creator of positive as against negative externalities. He describes four key changes in micro-policy and regulation which can rapidly transform today’s corporation to deliver tomorrow’s green and equitable “economy of permanence”. As founder and CEO of his sustainability consulting firm, GIST Advisory, Pavan works with C-suite executives and senior government officials on transition techniques, with a particular emphasis on metrics, as we cannot manage what we do not measure.

Pavan spends considerable time on his role as Goodwill Ambassador for UN Environment, promoting TEEB implementation and Green Economy transitions around the world. He has served on the boards of Conservation International (CI), the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC) and on the TEEB Advisory Board.

Mark Tercek

Mark Tercek

President and CEO, The Nature Conservancy

Mark Tercek is president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy, the world’s largest conservation organization. He is the co-author of the Washington Post and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling book Nature’s Fortune: How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Nature.

Before joining The Nature Conservancy in 2008, Mark was a Partner and Managing Director of Goldman Sachs where he worked for 24 years. Starting in 2005, he led the firm’s environmental strategy and its Environmental Markets Group. Inspired by the opportunity to help businesses, governments and environmental organizations work together in new, innovative ways, Mark left Goldman Sachs in 2008 to head up The Nature Conservancy.

He is a champion of the idea of natural capital — valuing nature for its own sake as well as for the services it provides for people, such as clean air and water, productive soils and a stable climate.

Photo © Dave Lauridsen

Jerry Yang

Jerry Yang

Founding Partner, AME Cloud Ventures

Entrepreneur Jerry Yang co-founded Yahoo! Inc. in 1995 and served on the Board of Directors until January 2012. Mr. Yang also served as a member of the executive management team. While at Yahoo he led a number of initiatives, including two of the biggest investments in the internet: Yahoo Japan and Alibaba Group. Yang holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering from Stanford University. He is widely recognized as a visionary and pioneer in the internet technology sector, and was named one of the top 100 innovators in the world under the age of 35 by the MIT Technology Review in 1999.

Mr. Yang served as a director of Yahoo Japan Corporation (TSE:4689) and Alibaba Group until January 2012; and a director of Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) from July 2000 to November 2012.

Mr. Yang currently works with and invests in technology entrepreneurs through AME Cloud Ventures, his innovation investment firm. Mr. Yang serves as a director on the boards of Workday Inc., Lenovo Group, and Alibaba Group. He also serves on a number of his portfolio boards, including Docker and Didi.

Mr. Yang and his wife, Akiko Yamazaki, are well known philanthropists who focus on higher education, conservation and the arts. Mr. Yang serves as a Board Director of Dunhuang Foundation (USA), Member of the Asian Art Visiting Committee at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, and a Board Member for Monterey Peninsula Foundation.

Mr. Yang is serving on the Stanford University’s Board of Trustees, beginning in October 2017. He was previously on the board from 2005 through 2015, including being a Vice Chair. He currently is also a member of the Board for the National Committee of US-China Relations, a member of the Brookings China Advisory Council, a member of the Committee of 100, as well as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Symposium Schedule

For more details on individual sessions, click “see details” in the grid below. Click a date below to view the schedule for that day.

  Approaches & Applications Pathways to Impact New Frontiers
8:00 am - 8:30 am REGISTRATION
Lobby of Paul Brest Hall
8:30 am - 9:00 am Introductions
Paul Brest Hall
9:00 am - 9:20 am Partner Welcome and Overview of Symposium
Paul Brest Hall
9:20 am - 9:40 am Power of Network and Community Talk
Paul Brest Hall
9:40 am - 10:30 am Plenary: Gretchen Daily in Conversation with Leaders from China
Paul Brest Hall
10:30 am - 11:00 am BREAK
Rehnquist Courtyard
11:00 am - 12:30 pm Plenary: Sustainable Development Panel
Paul Brest Hall
12:30 pm - 1:00 pm GROUP PHOTO
Paul Brest East Patio/Stairs
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm LUNCH
Rehnquist Courtyard
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm A1) Getting Started w/ a Natural Capital Approach (see details) Tresidder Memorial Union, Oak East Lounge P1) Realizing the Values of Natural Capital: Pathways in China
Paul Brest East
N1) Lightning Talks (see details) Paul Brest West
3:30 pm - 4:00 pm BREAK
Rehnquist Courtyard
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm A1 cont'd) Getting Started (see details) Tresidder Memorial Union, Oak East Lounge P2) Sustainable Development Roundtable (see details) Paul Brest East N2) Scaling Ecosystem Service Assessments (see details) Paul Brest West
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm Poster Session 
Rehnquist Courtyard, w/ Happy Hour hosted by the Natural Capital Project


  Approaches & Applications Pathways to Impact New Frontiers Special Topics
8:00 am - 8:45 am Coffeehouse Chat: "Infrastructure and Natural Capital - Stories from the Front Line"
Paul Brest East
8:00 am - 9:00 am REGISTRATION
Lobby of Paul Brest Hall
9:00 am - 10:30 am A2) Toward Realistic, Plausible, Positive Futures for the Planet (see details) Tresidder Memorial Union, Oak East Room P3) Connecting Science, Tools, and Processes for Securing Freshwater (see details) Paul Brest East N3) Human Health (see details) Paul Brest West  S1) The Nature Conservancy Bridge Collaboration (see details) Jacobson-Sorenson Room 123
10:30 am - 11:00 am BREAK
Rehnquist Courtyard
11:00 am - 12:30 pm A3) Scenarios: Useful tools, shining examples, and best practices (see details) Tresidder Memorial Union, Oak East Room P4) Creating Enduring and Resilient Programs for Water Security (see details) Paul Brest East N4) Livable Cities Roundtable(see details) Paul Brest West S2)  IPBES (see details) Jacobson-Sorenson Room 123
12:30 pm - 2:00 pm LUNCH
Rehnquist Courtyard
2:00 pm - 3:15 pm Keynotes: Emily McKenzie, Rich Sharp, & Jerry Yang
Paul Brest Hall
3:15 pm - 3:30 pm BREAK
3:30 pm - 4:30 pm Keynote: Mark Tercek
Paul Brest Hall
4:30 pm - 7:15 pm OPEN TIME
7:15 pm - 8:30 pm Special Event: The Harmony of Green Growth & Well-Being, feat. cultural performances from China and former Stanford University President John Hennessey
Stanford Bing Concert Hall
  Approaches & Applications Pathways to Impact New Frontiers Special Topics
8:00 am - 8:45 am Coffeehouse Chat: Integrating Community, Ecology, and Profit for Sustainable Land Management
Paul Brest East
8:00 am - 9:00 am REGISTRATION
Lobby of Paul Brest Hall
9:00 am - 10:30 am A4a) Hands-on w/ InVEST: Freshwater and Terrestrial & A4b) Hands-on w/ InVEST for Coastal Resilience (see details) Tresidder Memorial Union, Oak East (a) or Room 382 (b) P5) Urban Intangibles/Livable Cities (see details) Paul Brest East N5) Cross-Sectoral Sustainable development: Financing regenerative grazing in the Gobi Desert, Mongolia(see details) Paul Brest West  S3) Climate Change (see details) Jacobson-Sorenson Room 123
10:30 am - 11:00 am BREAK
Rehnquist Courtyard
11:00 am - 12:30 pm A4a) Hands-on w/ InVEST: Freshwater and Terrestrial & A4b) Hands-on w/ InVEST for Coastal Resilience (see details) Tresidder Memorial Union, Oak East (a) or Room 382 (b) P6) Standards for the Private Sector (see details) Paul Brest East N6) Practical Academia (see details) Paul Brest West S4) Frontiers in Cultural Ecosystem Services (see details) Jacobson-Sorenson Room 123
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm LUNCH
Rehnquist Courtyard
1:30 pm - 3:00 pm A5) Communicating Natural Capital Information (see details) Tresidder Memorial Union, Oak East Lounge P7) Safe and Sustainable Coastal Communities (see details) Paul Brest East N7) InVEST and Beyond: Integrating multiple models and date sources to support ecosystem services assessments (see details) Jacobson-Sorenson Room 123  S5) Earth Observations for Ecosystem Services (see details) Paul Brest West
3:00 pm - 3:30 pm BREAK
Rehnquist Courtyard
3:30pm - 4:30 pm Keynote: Pavan Sukhdev
Paul Brest Hall
4:30 pm - 4:45 pm BREAK
4:45pm - 5:45 pm Keynote: Jane Lubchenco
Paul Brest Hall
5:45 pm - 6:45 pm Keynote Reception

Day 4 (March 22, 2018)

The fourth day of the Natural Capital Symposium is dedicated to the meetings of various working groups, as well as open project-support time with a rotating cast of NatCap staff members. THERE WILL BE ADDITIONAL WORKSHOPS AND WORKING GROUPS ANNOUNCED ON A ROLLING BASIS. Many of these sessions have separate RSVPs, as headcounts for each are limited. Please check each session description for a link to register (at no additional cost). Please see the "Working Groups" section of this website for the list of workshops and working groups.

The Harmony of Green Growth and Well-Being

Featuring special Chinese performances

Bing Concert Hall, Stanford University
Doors open at 7:15, program begins at 7:30
Followed by a Dessert Reception


Tracks & Sessions

The Natural Capital Symposium runs a full program of sessions from Monday-Wednesday. Thursday has a more flexible schedule, which includes working groups, workshops, and additional training sessions. The full program is split across three simultaneous “tracks.” We expect to release a draft schedule in the coming months. Attendees are encouraged to pick and choose which sessions they would like to attend, across all three tracks. Additional information about each track, can be found below.

Plenaries & Keynotes

K1) Partnership Welcome & The Power of Community

Monday, March 19, 9:00am – 9:40am
Location: Paul Brest Hall

Natural Capital Project leadership welcomes attendees and kicks-off the Symposium.

K2) Plenary: Gretchen Daily in Conversation with Leaders from China

Monday, March 19, 9:40am – 10:30am
Location: Paul Brest Hall

President Xi Jinping declared China’s Dream as becoming the Ecological Civilization of the 21st Century. After an introductory presentation, these leaders will share how this inspiring vision emerged in China, and how the country has begun to realize it. With their tremendous experience in both biophysical and socioeconomic dimensions of green growth – and in both rural and city contexts – we will hear about the success and challenges so far. Bring ideas and questions on the transferability of China’s approaches elsewhere in the world.

Featured Speakers:

  • Ouyang Zhiyun, Professor and Director, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • Zhang Yali, Director of Ecological Department, Human Settlements and Environment Commission of Shenzhen Municipality
  • Zhang Hongzing, Mayor of Fuzhou Municipal People’s Government
  • Wang Xiaorong, Deputy Mayor of Lishui City

K3) Plenary: Sustainable Development Panel

Monday, March 19, 11:00am – 12:30pm
Location: Paul Brest Hall

Abstract: The role of, and connections among, public- and private-sector actors in integrating natural capital approaches in sustainable development planning and investments.

This panel session will explore how private and public-sector actors are integrating nature’s values into sustainable development decisions, including planning and investment. We will explore emerging solutions, best practice and lessons learned, from a systems perspective, in conversation with governments, multilateral development banks, companies, investors and civil society. What are the key roles each actor can play and how does it all connect? How can accessible science, knowledge and tools on natural capital help? What policy and finance mechanisms are succeeding in incentivizing conservation of natural capital? How can best practice reach scale? The panel will delve into cases from Myanmar, Mozambique and Mongolia.

Moderator: Nik Sekhran, Chief Conservation Officer, WWF-US

Featured Speakers:

  • Carter Brandon, Global Lead Economist, World Bank
    • “Using Natural Capital to Define Sustainability”
  • Vanessa Ushie, Division Manager, Policy Analysis, African Natural Resources Centre, African Development Bank
    • “Financing and Policy Initiatives on Natural Capital in Africa”
  • Albano Manjate, National Director, Ministry of Economy & Finance, Government of Mozambique
    • “Natural Capital Program – Experiences and challenges related to resilient ecological infrastructures in Mozambique”
  • Win Myint, Policy Manager, WWF Myanmar and Nirmal Bhagabati, Lead Natural Capital Scientist, WWF-US
    • “Mainstreaming Natural Capital in Myanmar”
  • Samdanjigmed Tulganyam, Superintendent for Biodiversity, Oyu Tolgoi Mining, Mongolia
    • “Private Sector Involvement in Sustainable Development Planning”

K4) Coffehouse Chat: “Infrastructure and Natural Capital – Stories from the Front Line”

Tuesday, March 20, 8:00am – 8:45am
Location: Paul Brest East

Abstract: We will hear about experiences in diverse regions of the world – the Arctic, Africa, and Asia – facing challenges meeting the need to build new – and upgrade existing – built infrastructure in ways that are sustainable and climate resilient. We will hear inspiring first-hand stories from leaders using natural capital approaches and innovations in policy, planning and finance to improve infrastructure decision-making, including investments in ecological infrastructure.

Moderator: Kate Newman, VP Public Sector Initiatives, WWF-US

Featured Speakers:

  • Hon. Fran Ulmer, Chair, US Arctic Research Commission – Stories from Alaska
  • Vanessa Ushie, Division Manager, Policy Analysis Division, ANRC, African Development Bank – Stories from Africa
  • Yolanda Gonçalves, National Director for Cooperation and Planning, Ministry of Land, Environment and Rural Development, Government of Mozambique – Stories from Mozambique
  • Kyaw Kyaw Lwin, Deputy Director General, Forest Department, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation – Stories from Myanmar

K5) Keynotes: Emily McKenzie, Rich Sharp, & Jerry Yang

Tuesday, March 20, 2:00pm – 3:15pm
Location: Paul Brest Hall

K6) Keynote: Mark Tercek in Conversation with Mary Ruckelshaus

Tuesday, March 20, 3:30pm – 4:30pm
Location: Paul Brest Hall

K7) Coffeehouse Chat: “Integrating Community, Ecology and Profit for Sustainable Land Management”

Wednesday, March 21, 8:00am – 8:45am
Location: Paul Brest East

Abstract: Hunter Lovins, founder and president of Natural Capital Solutions, is a long-time creator and advocate of approaches to secure natural capital on working lands. She is also on the board of the Savory Institute, a global leader in the realms of holistic management and regenerative agriculture. She will lead a dialogue on the potential of these approaches, and kick off a day examining the role of the private sector in stimulating change in our productive systems.

K8) Keynote: Pavan Sukhdev

Tuesday, March 21, 3:30pm – 4:30pm
Location: Paul Brest Hall

K9) Keynote: Jane Lubchenco

Tuesday, March 20, 4:45pm – 5:45pm
Location: Paul Brest Hall

Pathways to Impact

The Pathways to Impact track highlights engagements where ecosystem services information has had an impact on a decision, a stakeholder process, or an outcome. This track focuses on work that addresses a real policy window in collaboration with local stakeholders, and where it can be demonstrated—or at least there is good reason to believe—that the ES information will be used to inform decisions. The seven sessions in this track focus on key topics and desired outcomes that are shared across our community of practice.

P1) Realizing the Values of Natural Capital: Successes and Challenges in Opening Green Growth Pathways in China

Monday, March 19th, 2:00pm-3:30pm
Location: Paul Brest East

Join these leaders working in cities and counties that are pioneering new policy and finance mechanisms for opening green growth pathways in China. We will hear about specific, pilot cases for testing and demonstrating particular approaches to secure both livelihoods and natural capital.

Featured Speakers:

  • Xu Weihua, Asssociate Professor, Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • Zhang Hongxing, Mayor of Fuzhou Municipal People’s Government, Jiangxi Province
  • Wang Xiaorong, Deputy Mayor of Lishui City, Zhejiang Province
  • Zhou Zheyun, Executive Deputy Mayor of Leishan County, Guizhou Province
  • Zhao Peng, The Nature Conservancy – China

P2) Sustainable Development Roundtable

Monday, March 19th, 4:00pm-5:30pm
Location: Paul Brest East

Abstract: This interactive Roundtable session provides participants with the opportunity to share their experiences developing and implementing the approaches, information and incentives needed to make inclusion of natural capital in development planning commonplace. We will start with a series of rapid Ignite-style talks, highlighting examples from around the globe and covering multiple dimensions of sustainable development planning — from advancing science to deploying and scaling innovative policy and finance mechanisms. Presentations will be followed by open discussion among presenters and audience members. Together, we will share perspectives, exchange lessons learned, and work to identify solutions to obstacles faced in accounting for nature’s values in development decisions.

Featured Speakers:

  • Leidy Tatiana Rodríguez Torres, Universidad Industrial de Santander
    • “Impact Assessment of the Productive Transformation on the Ecosystem Services of Las Cruces Micro-basin in San Vicente de Chucurí, Colombia”
  • Rachel Neugarten, Director, Conservation Priority Setting Conservation International
    • “Trends in Protected Area Representation of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Six Tropical Countries”
  • John Quinn, Assistant Professor, Furman University
    • “Mapping the Impact of Urbanization, Conservation, and Governance Decisions on Ecosystem Services”
  • Barano Siswa Sulistyawan, Conservation Science Leader, WWF-Indonesia
    • “Greening Indonesia’s Infrastructure Policy”
  • Anabela Rodrigues, Country Director, WWF Mozambique
    • “Transforming Public Planning Systems with the Private Sector and Communities for Water and Food Supply”
  • Adrian Vogl, Senior Scientist, Natural Capital Project
    • “Resilience in the Amazon: Nature-based, integrated watershed management for growing urban centers”
  • Justin Johnson, Economist, Natural Capital Project
    • “Mapping National Green-planning to Sustainable Development Goal Attainment in West Africa”

Moderator: David McCauley, Senior Vice President, Policy and Government Affairs, WWF-US

P3) Connecting Science, Tools and Processes for Watershed Management and Securing Freshwater Ecosystem Services

Tuesday, March 20th, 9:00am-10:30am
Location: Paul Brest East

Abstract: Effective nature-based solutions to maintain freshwater ecosystem services typically require interventions on whole-watershed scales. There is a general agreement that watershed conservation will reduce water-related risks and will have multiple beneficiaries. However, mainstreaming that understanding into decisions is often hindered by fragmentary baseline data and limited understanding for the impact pathways and time spans with which interventions lead to tangible improvements for beneficiaries. Science has to play a key role for providing approaches to make both water risks and benefits of watershed management transparent even in data-scarce settings. However, with limited resources at hand, practicable scientific approaches need to be considerate of the information needs of stakeholders and decision makers.

This session highlights most relevant knowledge gaps and identifies in turn which scientific approaches and new data would be of most operational value to enable better watershed management. We also discuss tools and case studies for how a nexus between science and policy enables successful implementation of watershed conservation.

Featured Speakers:

  • Jorge Leon, Latin America Water Funds Specialist, The Nature Conservancy
    • “Natural Infrastructure Investment Opportunities in Sao Paolo’s Cantareira Water Supply System”
  • Lindsay Bass, Manager, Corporate Water Stewardship, WWF US
    • “Linking Water Risk and Ecosystem Services: The new water risk filter”
  • Kari Vigerstol, Water Security Director of Science and Innovation, The Nature Conservancy
    • “A Leap of Faith : Major gaps in water management science and monitoring “
  • David Lallemant, Assistant Professor, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
    • “A Risk Framework for Quantifying Natural Flood Mitigation and its Application to the Chindwin Basin, Myanmar”
  • Sarah Diringer, Senior Research Associate, The Pacific Institute
    • “Developing a Consistent Framework for Evaluating Multiple Benefits in Water Investments”

Moderator: Rafael Schmitt, Postdoctoral Researcher, Hydrology, Natural Capital Project

P4) Creating Enduring and Resilient Programs for Water Security

Tuesday, March 20th, 11:00am-12:30pm
Location: Paul Brest East

Abstract: Through showcasing compelling examples of long-running programs that secure freshwater and other ecosystem services, this session will address the critical ingredients for designing, implementing, and sustaining durable programs. Speakers will bring a range of perspectives on what makes programs work in the long run – from getting the science right to engaging the right partners, designing the efficient and equitable programs, leveraging existing policies, creating new incentives, and allowing for course corrections whenever necessary. We will also discuss ongoing challenges to getting this mix right, with perspectives on securing public and private funding through multilateral channels and by engaging business.

Featured Speakers:

  • Luis Gámez, Research & Development, Empresa de Servicios Públicos de Heredia, Costa Rica
    • “Internalization and payment of watershed environmental services: Pragmatical lessons”
  • Paola Bauche, Director, Northwest Regional Program, Mexican Funds for Conservation of Nature
    • “Watershed conservation in the context of climate change: Integrated management of ten coastal watersheds in Northwest Mexico”
  • Leon Szeptycki, Executive Director, Water in the West, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment
    • “Lessons learned from environmental flows policy during the California drought”
  • Adrian Vogl, Senior Scientist, Natural Capital Project
    • “Innovations for linking watershed management science to practice: Lessons learned and opportunities”

Moderator: Marcelo Guevara, Regional Coordination Officer for Latin America, Natural Capital Project

P5) Urban Intangibles / Livable Cities

Wednesday, March 21st, 9:00am-10:30am
Location: Paul Brest East

Abstract: Over 60% of the land projected to become urban by 2030 is yet to be built. For future and existing urban areas, planners face important environmental and social challenges ranging from climate change adaptation to air pollution, migration and gentrification. In this context, nature-based solutions such as urban parks, street trees, or vegetated roofs are increasingly considered, raising key questions for researchers and practitioners. What are the services and disservices provided by nature-based solutions? How do their benefits change with urban context (climate, built infrastructure, population growth)? Can nature-based solutions increase resilience and social justice in cities? This session will explore these questions from a theoretical and practical perspective, highlighting the current research efforts in the field of urban ecosystem services and current projects that aim to implement nature-based solutions in cities.

Featured Speakers:

  • Perrine Hamel, Ecosystem Services Scientist, Natural Capital Project
    • “NatCap in the City: Early engagement and vision for the Cities program”
  • Han Baolong, Chinese Academy of Sciences
    • “Assessing Urban Ecosystem Services in Chinese Major Cities”
  • Rob McDonald, Lead Scientist, The Nature Conservancy
    • “UUrban Greenprinting: Crafting a shared spatial vision of what nature can do for a city
  • Kate Malmgren, Urban Ecologist, Google
    • “Untapped Potential of the Urban Landscape: Experience from Google’s ecology program “
  • Joe DiStefano, Principal and Co-Founder, Calthorpe Analytics
    • “Supporting Environmental Change and Sustainable Urban Planning with the UrbanFootprint Software Platform”

P6) Standards for the Private Sector

Wednesday, March 21st, 11:00am-12:30pm
Location: Paul Brest East

Abstract: The world’s major private-sector organizations exceed all but the largest governments in financial resources and influence, making their operating decisions vital for achieving global environmental sustainability and green growth. Collectively, multinational corporations and the financial system broadly drive the behavior of whole sectors of production. A growing number of companies and financial investors have made public commitments to sustainability. These commitments are increasingly converging around a common set of standards to govern behavior and decision-making.  For example, in the infrastructure sector, sustainability standards are emerging to support companies financing, developing and designing infrastructure projects. However, for these commitments to be meaningful they need to be based on reliable, transparent data on ecosystem changes. We consider what new approaches or information sources are needed to evaluate impacts of investment standards across the private and finance sectors, suggesting a shift from self-reporting on ESG metrics to accountability based on real-time remote-sensing data and ecosystem service modeling.

Featured Speakers:

  • Ben Caldecott, Director, Oxford Sustainable Finance Program, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment
    • “Evolution of Data, Finance, and Reporting – Current and future applications for financial institutions”
  • Elizabeth White, Chief Strategist, Sustainability, International Finance Corporation (IFC)
    • “Ecosystem Service Risk Management and Natural Capital” 
  • Helen Crowley, Head of Sustainable Sourcing Innovation, Kering
    • “Sustainable Sourcing: The role of companies in driving standards”

Moderator: Mark Gough, Executive Director, Natural Capital Coalition

P7) Safe and Sustainable Coastal Communities

Wednesday, March 21st, 1:30pm-3:00pm
Location: Paul Brest East

Abstract: This session will explore issues of sustainable development in coastal zones, including the information and science needed to support novel, nature-based approaches to enhancing resilience of coastal communities.  Panelists will bring their perspectives and experiences from multilateral development banks, the private sector, foundations, community-based efforts, and academia. The session will address issues related to social, economic and environmental aspects of sustainable development in coastal systems, demand for information by the private sector, and opportunities for scaling and mainstreaming.

  • Claudia Madrazo, President, Fundación Claudia y Roberto Hernández
    • “The Kanan Kai Alliance and the relentless art of weaving systems transformation for the MesoAmerican Reef in Mexico”
  • Carter Ingram, Senior Manager, Ernst and Young
    • “Bridging divides to build resilience”
  • Katie Arkema, Senior Scientist, Natural Capital Project
    • “Integrating natural capital in coastal development to advance outcomes for nature and people”
  • Hugh Possingham, Chief Scientist, The Nature Conservancy
    • “Conundrums in choosing the best conservation action for coastal resilience: restore or protect? Act on the land or the sea? Defend or retreat?”

Moderator: Katie Arkema, Senior Scientist, Natural Capital Project

New Frontiers

The New Frontiers track focuses on leading edge, experimental, and theoretical work that is still on its way to making an impact. We anticipate many of the topics and projects explored in this track will evolve into Pathways to Impact sessions of their own in future years. Sessions in this track feature robust exchanges of new research, lessons learned, and exciting opportunities at the farthest reaches of natural capital science.

N1) Lightning Talks

Monday, March 19th, 2:00pm-3:30pm
Location: Paul Brest West

Abstract: This session provides a venue for researchers and practitioners to share and discuss their diverse experiences and work with natural capital approaches. The session will consist of seven to nine short presentations followed by small group breakout discussions on topics introduced during the lightning talk.  This year’s speakers address, among others, issues of coastal resilience and carbon sequestration, touching on broader themes of urban planning and public health.  Presenters come from a range of countries and disciples; each brings a unique perspective to the common question of how to account for multiple ecosystem services and the potential trade-offs between them.

Featured Speakers:

  • Priya Shyamsundar, Lead Economist, The Nature Conservancy
    • “What can Conservation Agriculture do for Air Pollution?”
  • Chris Coutts, Associate Professor, Florida State University
    • “The Ecology of Health”
  • Marcello Hernández-Blanco, PhD Scholar, Australian National University
    • “The Economic Value of the Ecosystem Services of 7 Ramsar Sites in Costa Rica”
  • Ali Mohammed Rezaie, PhD Student, George Mason University
    • “Investigating the Role of Natural Habitats and Features in Coastal Resilience”
  • Diego Herrera, Economist, Environmental Defense Fund
    • “Environmental Impact Bond for Nature-Based Resilience: An application to large-scale wetland restoration in coastal Louisiana”
  • Glenn-Marie Lange, Senior Environmental Economist, The World Bank
    • “Natural Capital in the Wealth of Nations”
  • Nell Campbell, Research Scientist, Earth Systems Research Center, Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, University of New Hampshire
    • “Beyond Carbon Farming”

Moderator: Katherine Wyatt, Ecosystem Services Analyst, Natural Capital Project

N2) Scaling Ecosystem Service Assessments

Monday, March 19th, 4:00pm-5:30pm
Location: Paul Brest West

Abstract:  This session presents approaches that have the potential to enhance the scalability of ecosystem service assessments, through a combination of innovative tools, creative applications of data in new contexts, and modeling advances.

Featured Speakers:

  • Daphne Yin, Consultant, Indufor
    • “Rural Valuation Tool: A bottom-up approach to valuing natural and social capital of the commons”
  • Dr. Andrea Ghermandi, Senior Lecturer, University of Haifa, Israel
    • “Using Geotagged Photos from Social Media to Value the Recreational Benefits of Kerala’s Wetlands in India”
  • Bill Miller, Professor, Northwestern University
    • “Optimizing Sustainable Reconstruction in an Era of Increasing Disasters”
  • Zach Parisa, President, SilviaTerra
    • “Natural Capital markets for small landowners – A practical, data-driven market”
  • Dave Fisher, Geospatial Analyst, Natural Capital Project
    • “Decision Support Tools for Measuring Recreation Across Publicly Owned Lands”

Moderator: Rob Griffin, Economist, Natural Capital Project

N3) Human Health

Tuesday, March 20th, 9:00am-10:30am
Location: Paul Brest West

Abstract:  This session explores frontiers in understanding the natural capital underpinnings of human health, with a focus on infectious disease. Bringing together experts in medicine, public health and disease ecology, the panel will synthesize the state of knowledge of nature-human health linkages, and share new research directions aimed at enabling decision-makers to make use of this critical information.

Featured Speakers:

  • Katherine Burke, Deputy Director, Stanford Global Health, Primary Care and Population Health (Discussant)
  • Grant Miller, Associate Professor of Medicine, Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute and the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research
    • “Global Health, the Environment, and Behavior Change”
  • Matthew Gribble, Professor in Environmental Health, Emory University
    • “Marine Protected Areas and Adult Mortality Rates: a Preliminary Longitudinal Analysis of Country-Level Data”
  • Erin Mordecai, Professor in Biology, Stanford University
    • “Impacts of Anthropogenic Change on Vector-borne Disease”
  • Stephen Luby, Professor of Medicine and Senior Fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute and the Freeman Spogli Institute
    • “Two efforts to attribute reduced human infectious disease burden to ecosystem investments”

Moderator: Lisa Mandle, Senior Scientist, Natural Capital Project

N4) Livable Cities Roundtable

Tuesday, March 20th, 11:00am-12:30am
Location: Paul Brest West

Abstract:  As the world becomes increasingly urbanized, cities face the challenge of growing and developing while still providing a healthy, safe, equitable and sustainable living environment for their residents. Urban nature, often in the form of “green infrastructure”, may supply critical ecosystem services that enhance livability in cities. In this session, we showcase research from across the world that explores urban ecosystem services and how these services may contribute to building resilience in cities in the face of global change. Cross-cutting themes include: cultural ecosystem services in cities, water quality and other health challenges, incorporating nature into urban spatial planning, and applications of ecosystem service and resilience theory in the Global South. The session starts off with short ignite-style presentations that provide an overview of different case studies, to be followed by group discussions with the speakers.

Featured Speakers:

  • Grazia Julian, Scientific and Technical Project Officer, Joint Research Centre at the European Comission
    • “Assessing Cultural Ecosystem Services provided in European cities: A cross-scale application of the ESTIMAP-recreation model”
  • Jinlong Liu, PhD Candidate, University of Melbourne
    • “Urban cultural ecosystem service flows: A model connecting providers of multiple services and users of urban green spaces”
  • Andrea Lund, PhD Candidate, Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources
    • “Violence and vectors: engaging adolescent girls in participatory mapping in informal settlements in Fiji”
  • Thomas Hilde, Assistant Professor in Urban Planning, Cleveland University, and Robert Paterson, Associate Professor in Community and Regional Planning, University of Texas at Austin
    • “Green infrastructure for disaster resilience: integrating ecosystem services into scenario planning”
  • Emily Howe, Aquatic Ecologist, The Nature Conservancy
    • “Optimizing green stormwater infrastructure for people and nature: advancing urban stormwater planning through design thinking, pollution loading, social equity metrics”
  • Genevieve Mercier, Senior Environmental Strategy and Programs Officer, Natural Capital Commission
    • “The economic value of the National Capital Commission’s green network”
  • Dr. Benis Egoh, Principal Researcher, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Stellenbosch, South Africa
    • “The integration of resilience principals into urban spatial planning: Durban as a case study”
  • Rebecca Shirer, Science and Planning Manager, The Nature Conservancy
    • “Mapping beneficiaries of land protection in New York State”

Moderator: Maike Hamann, Postdoctoral Researcher, Natural Capital Project

N5) Cross-sectoral Sustainable Development: Financing Regenerative Grazing in the Gobi Desert, Mongolia

Wednesday, March 21st, 9:00am-10:30am
Location: Paul Brest West

Abstract:  Mongolia has seen a rapid rise in rangeland grazing pressure due to increasing global demand for cashmere along with privatization of a formerly government-run livestock industry. The national herd had nearly doubled 1990s-levels by 2009, leading to widespread degradation of rangeland systems. The pace and reliability of conservation focused legislation development within government is limited. In some regions this legislative void is being filled by private sector and conservation NGO enterprises. In this panel, we highlight a unique partnership and a promising pilot for promoting regenerative and sustainable grazing in the Gobi Desert, one of the most imperiled ecosystems in the region, that could serve as a model for market-driven restoration in other degraded systems. The global apparel company Kering is working with the Mongolian extractives company Oyu Tolgoi and Wildlife Conservation Society to incentivize improved grazing practices, providing Kering with sustainable cashmere and Oyu Tolgoi with biodiversity offsets for mining impacts, and restoring rangeland quality for livestock, wildlife, and other critical ecosystem services.

Featured Speakers:

  • Stuart Anstee, Principal, Stuart Anstee & Associates
  • Onon Bayasgalan, Lead for Sustainable Enterprise, WCS Mongolia
  • David Hamilton, Principal Adviser in Biodiversity, Oyu Tolgoi Plc
  • Dr. Helen Crowley, Head of Sustainable Sourcing Innovation, Kering
  • Enkhtuvshin Shiilegdamba, Country Director, WCS Mongolia

Moderator: Becky Chaplin-Kramer, Lead Scientist, Natural Capital Project

N6) Practical Academia

Wednesday, March 21st, 11:00am-12:30pm
Location: Paul Brest West

Abstract:  Universities are hubs of innovation, creativity, interdisciplinarity, scholarship, deep thinking, and more.  In some fields (e.g., medicine), they are also critical connectors between research and practice.  In others (e.g., those related to sustainability), actionable research can be hampered by traditional academic structures and cultures.  In this session, we will explore some barriers facing translational research, highlight bright spots that are breaking down these barriers, and discuss novel ways forward.

Featured Speakers:

  • Ben Packard, EarthLab Director, University of Washington
  • Chris Field, Director, Stanford Woods Institute of the Environment
  • Hugh Possingham, Chief Scientist, The Nature Conservancy
  • Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Distinguished University Professor, Oregon State University
  • Jessica Hellman, Director of the Institute of the Environment, University of Minnesota

Moderator: Anne Guerry, Chief Strategy Officer & Lead Scientist, Natural Capital Project

N7) InVEST and Beyond: Integrating Multiple Models and Data Sources to Support Ecosystem Services

Wednesday, March 21st, 1:30pm-3:00pm
Location: Jacobson-Sorensen Hall, Room 123

Abstract:  Individual ecosystem service models are important elements in the process of understanding how people benefit from nature. However, easy integration of multiple models and data sources are required to develop workflows that are usable in real decision contexts, and also to explore dependence on key assumptions. This session’s presenters will share experiences of how they have compared or integrated multiple models (often including InVEST) into workflows or toolkits built for specific research or decision purposes.

Featured Speakers:

  • Claudia Moster, PhD Candidate, University of São Paolo – ESALQ
    • “InVEST Toolbox Integration with RBIS Data Management Platforms”
  • Francesco Tonini, Software Engineer and Systems Modeler, Michigan State University
    • The Telecoupling GeoApp: A web-based application for mapping and analysis of telecoupled human and natural systems”
  • Carla Elliff, PhD Student, Universidade Federal da Bahia
    • “Shoreline Protection Provided by Coral Reefs in a Brazilian Archipelago”
  • Daphne Yin, Consultant, Indufor
    • “Applying the Natural Capital Protocol: valuing natural capital impacts and dependencies in the tea, coffee and tourism industries”
  • Benjamin Bryant, the Natural Capital Project and Water in the West, Stanford University
    • “Updates from NatCap: A quick survey of latest and greatest helper tools for optimization, down-scaling, scenarios, and more”

Moderator: Nirmal Bhagabati, Senior Program Officer (Environmental Services), WWF US Conservation Science Program

Approaches & Applications

The Approaches & Applications track contains a mix of half-day workshops on key topics for practitioners and project teams who are looking to get their own natural capital-based projects underway, as well as more traditional conference sessions with presentations followed by opportunities for discussion. The workshop sessions are led by NatCap staff members and NatCap partners and collaborators, with additional training support also available during open support hours on Thursday.

A1) Getting Started with a Natural Capital Approach

Monday, March 19th, 2:00pm – 5:00pm
Tresidder Memorial Union, Oak East Room

Abstract: This session is intended for those who are new to taking a natural capital approach to informing decisions. It will begin with a preview of our training offerings and guidance for how to navigate the Approaches & Applications and Learning Exchange tracks at this year’s Symposium. We will discuss ways of approaching a natural capital analysis, and provide illustrative case studies. This session will also introduce NatCap’s primary software suite, InVEST, walk through typical workflows, and give an overview of the various models available within it. Bring your laptop if you’d like help installing InVEST, RIOS, OPAL or QGIS software.

Session Lead: Stacie Wolny, Senior GIS Analyst, Natural Capital Project

A2) Toward realistic, plausible, positive futures for the planet

Tuesday, March 20th, 9:00am-10:30am
Tresidder Memorial Union, Oak East Room

Abstract: Scenarios are plausible stories about how the future of a social-ecological system might unfold. Scenario planning can be an important tool in social-ecological transformations because it forces people to think explicitly about alternative situations, consider key uncertainties and tradeoffs, and create an understanding that a different order of things is possible. Moreover, scenarios can draw on the power of human imagination, to help us rethink and re-feel our affiliation with the biosphere and envision a desirable future. Most scenarios however, and even our imaginations, are deeply rooted in the past, relying on extrapolations of previous experiences and present trends. To adequately anticipate the radical change, novelty and surprise in the Anthropocene we may need to take a whole new approach to scenarios. In this session we will discuss new ways of engaging with the future, and the role of science in guiding today’s collective choices, to channel the transformative and creative potentials of human societies towards positive futures for the planet.

Featured Speakers:

  • Stephen Carpenter, Scientist, Center for Limnology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
    • “Exploring Futures of Nature and People: What’s next?”
  • Henrique Pereira, Professor of Biodiversity Conservation, German Center for Integrative Biology Research, Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network
    • “Positive Visions for our Relationship with Nature”
  • Alex Steffen, Planetary Futurist, Planetary Thinking LLC
    • “Imagining Cities That Can Save the Planet”
  • Andrea Downing, Researcher, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University
    • “Pathways to pathways to global sustainability”

Moderator: Emily McKenzie, Chief Adviser, Economics and Sustainability, WWF Global Science

A3) Scenarios: Useful tools, shining examples and best practices

Tuesday, March 20th, 11:00am-12:30pm
Tresidder Memorial Union, Oak East Room

Abstract: Ecosystem service modelling tools, like InVEST, are developed to categorize and quantify nature’s contribution to people. Importantly, these models allow for quantitative exploration of alternative futures, exposing tradeoffs and their implications. Yet, besides producing quantitative outputs, models and scenarios are foremost tools that help to elicit values, preferences and objectives of beneficiaries. As part of an iterative participatory process, exploratory scenarios evoke critical reflections and foster long term thinking, ultimately leading to co-design, collective action and wise decision making. Although participatory scenario studies have been successfully conducted all over the world, large scale implementation is constrained by practical issues and methodological questions. In this session practitioners and tool developers will present compelling examples and share best practices.

Featured Speakers:

  • Katherine Wyatt, Ecosystem Services Analyst, Natural Capital Project
    • “Bridging the Scenario Divide: making the most of qualitative and quantitative approaches for sustainable development planning in The Bahamas”
  • Stephen Carpenter, Scientist, Center for Limnology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
    • “Envisioning the Future of the Yahara Watershed”
  • Justin Johnson, Economist, Natural Capital Project
    • “NatCap Software Tools for Scenario Generation: MESH, ROOT, and SEALS”
  • Kim Fisher, GIS Analyst and Developer, Wildlife Conservation Society
    • “Visionmaker: An urban sustainability app for ecological democracy”

Moderator: Jan Kuiper, Postdoctoral Researcher, Stockholm Resilience Centre

A4a) Hands-on w/ InVEST: Freshwater/Terrestrial Models

Wednesday, March 21st, 9:00am-12:30pm
Tresidder Memorial Union, Oak East Room

Abstract: It is often useful to understand not only how much water is produced by a landscape annually, but also the seasonal variation of water production, and differentiation between quick flow and baseflow. The InVEST Seasonal Water Yield model aims to provide information on which parts of the landscape contribute to baseflow and quick flow, and allows for scenarios to be run to look at alternative futures. In this session, we’ll give an introduction to this model, share case studies of its use in ecosystem service assessments, and have hands-on time running the model with sample data. Please come prepared with InVEST and a GIS installed on your laptop.


  • Ginger Kowal, GIS Programmer Analyst, Natural Capital Project
  • Kelly Meza Prado, Researcher, Natural Capital Project
  • Nirmal Bhagabati, Senior Program Officer (Environmental Services), WWF US Conservation Science Program

Session Lead: Stacie Wolny, Senior GIS Analyst, Natural Capital Project

A4b) Hands-on w/ InVEST for Coastal Resilience

Wednesday, March 21st, 9:00am-12:30pm
Paul Brest Hall Conference Suite, Room 382

Abstract: Coastal ecosystems provide numerous benefits to people, including supporting livelihoods through fishing and tourism as well as reducing risk to coastal hazards by attenuating incoming waves. Yet, competing needs for development can threaten those ecosystems. During this session we will go in-depth with the InVEST Coastal Vulnerability Model after introducing the suite of marine-focused InVEST models that address these trade-offs and highlight the role of healthy ecosystems. The Habitat Risk Assessment model assesses the cumulative effect of multiple human activities on ecosystems.  The Recreation and Tourism model explores the value of coastal ecosystems to provide recreation opportunities and support livelihoods in the tourism industry. The Coastal Vulnerability model measures how changes in ecosystems lead to changes in risks from coastal hazards. The goal of this session is to introduce the scientific underpinnings of these models and discuss different contexts in which to apply them. We will also explore the basic structure of InVEST models in general and learn about the InVEST file structure, the user interface, and types of model inputs and outputs. Focusing on the Coastal Vulnerability model, we will build familiarity with running and interpreting results and use exercises designed to illustrate how real-world planning decisions can be informed with quantitative model results.

Session Lead: Katherine Wyatt, Ecosystem Services Analyst, Natural Capital Project

A5) Communicating & Visualizing Natural Capital Information

Wednesday, March 21st,1:30pm – 3:00pm
Tresidder Memorial Union, Oak East Room

Abstract: Natural capital assessments aim to inform decision makers. However, delivering efficiently complex, multidimensional, spatial results – typical output of ES assessments – is a difficult task. Data visualization techniques can greatly enhance communication capacities, with appropriate metrics, graphs and maps adapted to various audiences of stakeholders, partners and communities. Practical tools and data visualization key concepts to communicate natural capital results will be presented. We will share inspiring examples and a visualization toolbox for ecosystem services analysts. Participants will engage in a typical visualization case, and will have the opportunity to raise the visualization challenges they encounter. No technical background required.

Featured Speaker:

  • Gregg Verutes, Geographer & Visualization Specialist, National Audubon Society
    • “Audubon Conservation Tracker: Visualizing an accountable conservation organization”

Session Lead: Charlotte Weil, Data Analyst, Natural Capital Project

Special Topics

New for this year, we will also be featuring a set of smaller-group sessions focused around more specific topic areas, to allow for deeper dives into several sub-topics of our key themes. The sessions will take a more interactive format, allowing new opportunities for Symposium attendees to “get into the weeds” on specific topics.

S1) The Nature Conservancy Bridge Collaborative: Linking ecosystem services to health and development impacts – with evidence

Tuesday, March 20th, 9:00am-10:30am
Jacobson-Sorensen Hall, Room 123

Abstract: Ecosystem services conceptually link nature and human well-being. While this idea connects health, development and the environment, the evidence commonly used to inform decisions, underpin models, or design monitoring programs remains fragmented. The Bridge Collaborative, a partnership of The Nature Conservancy, PATH, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and Duke University, exists to help break down these silos. The Collaborative’s 150 members representing over 100 organizations have developed an evidence evaluation framework that provides a common basis for use of evidence across health, development and environment spheres. The framework addresses what is considered admissible evidence (e.g. should qualitative studies and randomized controlled trials be in the same evidence synthesis?) and what constitutes a strong body of evidence (e.g. are white papers and peer reviewed publications equal? Are more studies better?). Agreements on these issues should help make transdisciplinary ecosystem service assessments (such as IPBES assessments) faster and more consistent, aid with interpretation of results from production function models (such as InVEST) and help identify knowledge gaps that can be filled by monitoring and adaptive management programs. But do they really help? In this session, we will dive into real health and development evidence related to water security and urban heat islands. You will hear what representatives from health, development and environment disciplines have agreed on, and share your own views on ecosystem service evidence use.

Lead by: Heather Tallis, Global Manager and Lead Scientist, TNC & Christine Jacobs, Design Lead, The Bridge Collaborative TNC


Tuesday, March 20th, 11:00am-12:30pm
Jacobson-Sorensen Hall, Room 123

Abstract: The Intergovernmental Science/Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) assesses the state of biodiversity and of the ecosystem services it provides to society, in response to requests from decision makers. The first IPBES assessment of knowledge on biodiversity and ecosystem services and their interlinkages at the global level is slated for completion in 2018. The scope of the assessment is to evaluate the status and trends with regard to biodiversity and ecosystem services, the impact of biodiversity and ecosystem services on human well-being, and the impact of potential future scenarios of human development on biodiversity and ecosystem services. We present here findings and insights from this global assessment, and will discuss with the audience possible implications for its application to public and private sector decision-making.

Featured Speakers:

  • Hal Mooney, Professor of Environmental Biology, Stanford University
  • Kate Brauman, Lead Scientist for Global Water Assessment at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment
  • Henrique Periera, Professor of Biodiversity Conservation, German Center for Integrative Biology Research, Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network
  • Becky Chaplin-Kramer, Lead Scientist, The Natural Capital Project

S3) Climate Change

Wednesday, March 21st, 9:00am-10:30am
Jacobson-Sorensen Hall, Room 123

Abstract: Substantial progress has been achieved in recent years to better understand the services provided by nature that are essential to both mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and creating resilience to the impacts of climate change. There are nevertheless still significant gaps in tools, frameworks, and modeling approaches that prevent planning for truly resilient, sustainable development. These include fundamental limitations in available data, science and current models that do not adequately address the dynamics of a rapidly warming world. How can this community better integrate existing knowledge about climate change and natural capital to provide robust, decision-relevant information, while also accounting for gaps and deep uncertainties? How can academics and practitioners address these limitations in ways that create fit-for-purpose information for decision makers and planners? This discussion-focused session will explore these limitations and potential solutions to address them, focusing on cases in Myanmar and the US, including the Bay Area.

Featured Speakers:

  • Rob Griffin, Economist, Natural Capital Project, Woods Institute for the Environment and Department of Biology, Stanford University
    • “Sea Level Rise Adaptation in the Coastal San Francisco Bay Area”
  • Radley Horton, Lamont Associate Research Professor at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observation
    • “On Integrating Climate Science with Natural Capital Science for Decision-making”
  • Katherine Mach, Director of Stanford Environment Assessment Facility, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment
    • “A Focus on Risk and Solutions: Lessons from climate assessments and responses”
  • Lisa Mandle, Senior Scientist, Natural Capital Project
    • “Toward Climate Smart Natural Capital Assessments for Development Planning – Myanmar and beyond”

S4) Frontiers in Cultural Ecosystem Services

Wednesday, March 21st, 11:00am-12:30pm
Jacobson-Sorensen Hall, Room 123

Abstract: Cultural ecosystem services have been described as the “intangible” ways that people relate to and benefit from landscapes and marine ecosystems. A range of novel ways of thinking about cultural ecosystem services, including as shared socio-cultural values and as relational values, have recently emerged. Rather than thinking about, for example, cultural services as benefits flowing from people to nature, scholars and practitioners increasingly emphasize cultural services as a reciprocal relationship between people and place and as values that may be more appropriately assessed through deliberative and participatory methods. In this session we explore frontiers in assessing and bringing to the forefront cultural ecosystem services as well as opportunities and challenges in bringing this type of knowledge into decision making processes.

Featured Speakers:

  • Dr. Rachelle Gould, Assistant Professor, University of Vermont
    • “What are Relational Values, why are they important, and what more do we need to know?”
  • Dr. Jasper Kenter, Principal Investigator and Lecturer, Scottish Association for Marine Science
    • “Shared, plural, and social values of ecosystems”
  • Kelly Meza Prado, Researcher, Natural Capital Project, University of Minnesota
    • “Putting Suppliers on the Map: A participatory website to communicate experiences of the participants of water funds”
  • Pua’ala Pascua, Biocultural Specialist, Center for Biology and Conservation, American Museum of Natural History
    • “Creating a space for place-based perspectives on cultural ecosystem services”

Moderator: Leah Bremer, Conservation Scientist, University of Hawai’i at Manoa

S5) Earth Observations for Ecosystem Services

Wednesday, March 21st, 2:00pm-3:30pm
Jacobson-Sorensen Hall, Room 123

Abstract: Tools to quantify ecosystem services (ES) could be dramatically improved through the integration of Earth Observation (EO) data. Integrating newer EO products will move ES tools beyond simplistic categorical representations of land-use, a paint-by-numbers approach to assigning a ES provisioning value to all pixels in the same class. These opportunities for integrating EO data into ES range from EO products that are ready for integration with little to no modification or manipulation of the data or models through the creation of novel ES models built on EO data. This special session will highlight current efforts to integrate EO into ES models and will identify priorities for future work.

Featured Speakers:

  • Kyle Story, Computer Vision Engineer, Descartes Lab
  • Alessandro Baccini, Scientist, Woods Hole Research Center
  • Jay Angerer, Associate Professor, Texas A&M University
  • Glenn-Marie Lange, Senior Environmental Economist, World Bank

Moderators: Becky Chaplin-Kramer, Lead Scientist, The Natural Capital Project & Kate Brauman, Lead Scientist for Global Water Assessment at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment


The abstract submission deadline has now passed. If you submitted an abstract before the deadline, but have not heard back from us about it, please reach out via email. For those who were not able to submit a short talk, please consider sharing your work at the Symposium via a poster!


The submission deadline for posters has now passed.

Submit a poster

Working Groups

Following the full 3-day program of the Symposium, there will be multiple working groups meeting on Thursday, March 22rd. NatCap staff will be available to work with you in what we call our “sandbox” sessions. This is time for you to get hands-on help with model running, feedback about your own work, guidance about using an ecosystem services approach in decisions, or just generally to talk more with us about whatever is on your mind. We also have several working groups and workshops which will be open for Symposium attendees to join if they choose.

Many of these sessions have separate RSVPs, as headcounts for each are limited. Please check each session description for a link to register (at no additional cost).

W1) Integrating InVEST with the RBIS Data Management Platform

Thursday, March 22nd,  9:00am-3:00pm (break at 10:30am and lunch 12:30pm-1:30pm)
Jacobson-Sorensen Hall, Room 138

In this workshop, participants will be introduced to integrating InVEST freshwater models (Sediment, Nutrients, Hydropower and Seasonal Water Yield) with River Basin Information System (RBIS) platforms. The River Basin Information System (RBIS) is an open source data management platform precisely designed for integrated freshwater resources management projects. Besides data management and storage, RBIS provides functions for the visualization, linking, analysis and processing of different types of data to support research, decision making, results dissemination and information discovery. InVEST Freshwater models are benefited by having the support of a data management platform that operates as web-based GIS, which allows InVEST users to fetch all data needed from one single source with rich metadata (RBIS raster and vector databases), visualization of results (RBIS WMS support) and a collaborative environment for results dissemination (RBIS platforms are designed for integrated freshwater resources management projects with multiple stakeholders contributing data). In this workshop, participants will have the opportunity to explore how RIOS and InVEST SDR and Seasonal Water Yield models have been supported by using an RBIS platform within the Sao Paulo Water Fund, Brazil. Participants will understand how having a complete data management platform supporting their modeling exercises using InVEST allow their results to achieve greater impact. Participants should have basic GIS knowledge, and prior experience with RIOS and/or InVEST models will be helpful (but not required). Please bring a laptop, preferably with Firefox and a GIS application installed (for example, QGIS or ArcGIS).

Click here to view more details on the RBIS workshop.

W2) IPBES Stakeholder Co-creation of Multiscale Scenarios for Nature Futures

Thursday, March 22nd, 9:00am-12:30pm (30-minute break at 10:30am)
Jacobson-Sorensen Hall, Room 142

An important step for the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is to catalyse the development of nature-centred multi-scale scenarios for sustainable future and to facilitate cross-scale and cross-sectoral coordination to assess and reverse declines in biodiversity and ecosystem services (BES). Existing scenario approaches have limitations and gaps that constrain their usefulness for policy application and management practice. To address these issues, the IPBES Scenarios and Models Expert Group initiated the development of a set of multiscale scenarios for Nature Futures based on positive visions for human relationships with nature. The Nature Futures Scenarios are envisaged to shift the traditional ways of forecasting impacts of society on nature to nature-centred visions and pathways that will integrate interlinkages of social-ecological systems across divers, biodiversity, ecosystem functions and services, and human well-being, incorporating multiple systems of knowledge across scale and sectors (Rosa et al., 2017). They will explore impacts of alternative policy and management options in nature conservation and sustainable development, supported by the improved use of scenarios and modelling. At its first visioning workshop in September 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand, a diverse group of 73 participants from 31 countries used a suite of participatory methods to develop seven positive visions for future. These visions emphasise a diversity of views on human-nature relationships, including both indirect and intangible benefits and direct uses of nature, appreciation for biodiversity in specific elements and more holistically, localization as well as global management of ecosystem service flows, and varying degrees of the use of technology and intensities of nature management to improve the status of nature and its contributions to people. The visions identified in this workshop do not represent all possible futures as it was only the first step in a 4-year process of developing Nature Futures Scenarios, which will involve iterative cycles of visioning, stakeholder co-creation, and modelling with global, regional and local consultations during 2018. In this stakeholder co-creation workshop at NatCap Symposium, we aim to further refine preliminary visions developed from the first visioning workshop in New Zealand, with perspectives from the private sector (including social business) and civil society and non-profit organizations that have previously been under-represented. We invite Symposium participants to enrich, complement and fill the remaining gaps in the current set visions.

Click here to RSVP for the workshop (registration by 14 March is mandatory).

W3) Biodiversity Guidance for Natural Capital Assessments

Thursday, March 22nd, 1:30pm-3:00pm
Jacobson-Sorensen Hall, Room 142

The Natural Capital Protocol is a guide for businesses looking to better understand and manage their relationships with the environment using a natural capital framework. Increasingly accepted as the standard framework for companies looking to understand natural capital, the Protocol recognises the importance of biodiversity as an underlying component of natural capital, but also recognises the challenges in capturing the specific values of biodiversity. Sometimes values can be attributed – for example for the role a specific insect species has in pollinating a crop, or the role a forest ecosystem may have in watershed maintenance – but many values, particularly those related to underlying ecosystem function, resilience to change or the ‘intrinsic’ values of nature, tend to be hidden or missing altogether. These challenges were underlined by the public consultation to the Protocol where concerns were raised that biodiversity and its relationship to natural capital was insufficiently covered, that not enough attention was given to non-financial values and that, ultimately, companies would struggle to manage or even recognise impacts and dependencies on biodiversity as a result. In this session we will be running a consultation with materials developed by the Natural Capital Coalition and the Cambridge Conservation Initiative to provide input on proposed approaches to improving the integration of biodiversity in the Natural Capital Protocol and suggest key limitations for future improvement.



Thursday, March 22nd, 9:00am-10:30am
Paul Brest Hall Conference Suite, Room 382 (upstairs from the main hall)

The SEALS model (Spatial Economic Allocation Land-use Simulator) is a new, prototype tool created by researchers from NatCap in partnership with Unilever to connect results from global economic models to scenario generation of land-use, land-cover maps. This workshop will introduce some of the underlying assumptions and theory behind the economic model and the spatial allocation model and address how multi-level modelling such as this can increase realism of scenario generation. We will explore results created from the SEALS model based on global projections of agricultural and urban expansion from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). In particular, we will explore how relatively coarse  (30km by 30km) spatial projections from 2050 and 2100 can be downscaled to higher resolutions suitable for InVEST (30m or 300m). The workshop will end with a preview of the SEALS software and user-interface created to implement the model along with a discussion of next steps, ideas for extension and other possible application of multi-level spatial modeling.



Thursday, March 22nd, 1:30pm-5:00pm (30-minute break at 3pm)
Paul Brest Hall Conference Suite, Room 382 (Upstairs from the main hall)

Spatial landscape planning is a complex process that must confront a variety of informational and deliberative challenges. The Restoration Opportunities Optimization Tool (ROOT) helps address these challenges in the context of ecosystem service trade-off analysis.

A ROOT analysis identifies areas with the highest potential to increase provision of multiple ecosystem services (ES) under alternative management scenarios using linear and integer programming optimization. Based on user-generated analyses of potential ES changes across potential activity sites, mapping of key service endpoints, and decision-specific constraints, ROOT calculates optimal portfolios of restoration locations to support multiple ecosystem service objectives. The primary outputs from ROOT analyses are a suite of optimized restoration and alternative management allocations reflecting different prioritizations of each ES objective, a synthesis map that combines these allocations to highlight areas of agreement and uncertainty, and tables summarizing potential benefits for each allocation decision.

This training will provide participants the theory and experience to begin using ROOT in their own analyses.


W6) Open Support Hours/The NatCap Sandbox/”Ask a NatCapper!”

Thursday, March 22nd, 9:00am-10:30am; 11:00am-12:30pm; 1:30pm-3:00pm
Paul Brest East

Throughout the day on Thursday, various staff members (scientists, software developers, GIS analysts, and others) will be available for one-on-one or small group consultation about attendee projects, research, or other questions. We will post a schedule that shows what kind of NatCap experts will be available when, to help you decide when to stop by.


W7) Play Roads to a Resilient Future

Join a group led by NatCap trainers to play the most recent iteration of our training game series, Tradeoff! Teams will consider maps of potential road routes through a terrestrial landscape, and decide how to balance both infrastructural and ecosystem service costs to choose the best route. There will be prizes for the winning team!


Venue and transportation

Munger Building 4, 555 Salvatierra St, Stanford, CA 94305, USA

Munger Building 4, 555 Salvatierra St, Stanford, CA 94305, USA

The Natural Capital Symposium will be held at the Munger Conference Center, on the campus of Stanford University.

555 Salvatierra Way
Stanford, CA 94305

To get there by Marguerite Shuttle, take the X or Y to Campus Drive & Alvarado, then walk toward the center of campus on Salvatierra Way. This will take you right into the Rehnquist Courtyard, between Paul Brest Hall and Jacobson-Sorensen Hall. If you are staying at the Sheraton Palo Alto, you can catch the Marguerite Shuttle at the Palo Alto Transit Center (the Palo Alto Caltrain Station). The X and Y shuttles pick passengers up from the driveway adjacent to the southbound platform. Take the Y shuttle to Campus Drive & Alvarado.

Map of Munger Conference Center



Stanford University is easily accessible from both the San Francisco (SFO) and San Jose (SJC) Airports. Please click here for directions to/from area airports to Stanford. Stanford campus is located near the Palo Alto Caltrain station. There are free “Marguerite” shuttles that run from the station to locations across campus throughout the day. The X and Y shuttles stop very close to Paul Brest Hall, the location of the Munger Conference Center, epicenter of the Natural Capital Symposium. Bicycle rentals are available from the Campus Bike Shop.


We have arranged special group rates at two area hotels for this event, the Sheraton Palo Alto and the Creekside Inn. The Sheraton Palo Alto is adjacent to campus and a short shuttle bus ride or 1.5 mile walk away from the Munger Conference Center. The Creekside Inn is a 2.4 mile walk or short trip on public transit and/or Stanford shuttles away.

Sheraton Palo Alto
625 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94301 map
King OR two double beds $359/night + taxes and fees
Reservations can be made by calling toll free at 1-800-325-3535 and mentioning the 2018 Natural Capital Symposium or book online.
Reservations must be made by Friday, February 16th to access this special rate

Creekside Inn
3400 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306 map
Queen Bed $245/night + taxes and fees
King bed $265/night + taxes and fees
To book, call (650) 493-2711, ask for in-house reservations, and mention the Natural Capital Symposium; or book online
Reservations must be made by Monday, February 19th to access this special rate

There are also many other lodging options in the area and within a short ride on public transportation. Stanford University maintains a list of other local lodging options. We realize that lodging in the Stanford area can be quite expensive, so we have also set up a contact list for attendees who are looking to share rooms or seek out alternative lodging options to get in touch with each other. Once you have registered, reach out to us by email and we’ll be happy to send you a link to the list.


For the 2018 Natural Capital Symposium, we are pleased to announce a scholarship initiative to at least partially support the registration and travel costs for attendees from low-income countries or other circumstances where the costs of attending and/or traveling to the event present a barrier to their attendance. The application period for these scholarships has passed.  If you already submitted your application, you should be hearing back from us very soon.

Interested in sponsoring Symposium scholarships? If yes, please contact us by email natcap2018@gmail.com.


Send us a message at natcap2018@gmail.com, or fill out the form.

Past Events

Curious about our past Symposium events? Check out the 2017, 2016 and 2015 event pages.