Greenhouse Pioneer: Mark Gough, Natural Capital Coalition


Natural capital – the world’s stocks of natural assets such as geology, soil, air and water – plays a vital role in underpinning thriving societies and prosperous economies, supporting all other forms of capital.

As more and more organisations incorporate natural capital impact and dependency information in their business strategy and decision making, we ask Mark Gough, Executive Director of the Natural Capital Coalition, what gets him fired up and how to inspire change in others.

Mark Gough

Tell us, in 20 words or fewer, about Natural Capital Coalition? 

The Natural Capital Coalition is a global collaboration which helps us make better decisions by including our relationships with nature.

What drives you? 

Questions! And the older I get, the more questions I have. There is so much more to learn and answers are often found in the most unusual places.

What is your greatest achievement to date? 

Helping to forge a community who share their experience and challenges and find solutions together. Seeing two people from competing organisations who would normally ignore each other, actually walk up to each other smiling and sharing a joke is wonderful.

What are the challenges you face?

Self interest is the greatest challenge. And this is ironic because if people were truly self-interested then they would think about the system more and impacts and dependencies that they have on others, knowing that this always comes back to them and that everything is connected.

What are you working on that is getting you fired up and excited?

We have been working with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and other Coalition organisations to identify the barriers and opportunities related to applying natural capital on the ground in a political and social setting. Understanding the different roles that finance, business, civil society and government play in creating the right environment is essential.

Where do you want to take Natural Capital Coalition next? 

Considering how dependant we are on nature, it is surprising how far we still have to go to make sure that we include it in our decision making. Since the Natural Capital Protocol – a harmonised framework for carrying out a natural capital assessment – was released last year, tens of thousands of copies have been circulated. The next step is to support organisations as they apply the Protocol and discover the benefits of making more rounded decisions.

What can we, as individuals, do to make a difference?

Nature teaches us that we are all part of a system. Everything is connected. I would therefore encourage people not to look at what they can do individually but instead about how they can inspire others, work with others and change the common narrative about what nature has ever done for us.

How is what you are doing inspiring change in others?

Proving that collaboration is not the lowest common denominator, but instead the development of a community that can achieve more together than they can alone. Inspiring people to think about their relationship to nature, about the times they enjoy in nature with their loved ones. Valuing nature is not just about the monetary value, but about the real value that we derive; the relative importance and worth of nature in our lives.

Mark Gough

Can you recommend a life- or game-changing book for our readers? 

For everyone who enjoys playing games on a Sunday afternoon… and for all of those that don’t Reality is Broken: Why Games make us better and how they can change the world, by Jane McGonigal.

What do you listen to when you’re cooking dinner?

BBC Radio 6 Music, an alternative music station, which plays funk on the weekends.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? 

My father always told me to ‘Take two steps back from the situation’, so that you don’t get lost in the detail, can see the context and understand the reasons why things are happening. I had an idea a few years ago that if we gave everyone in the world a chess set so that they had to think about the implications of everything they did, the world be a better place.

Can you leave us with who’d be your Eco Hero? 

Omnis… Meaning everyone. We will survive or fall together.

At Greenhouse PR we celebrate the work of individuals who are pioneering in sustainability. Take a look at our blog page to hear more from a range of environmental pioneers, including Savita Custead from Bristol Natural History Consortium, Alan Andrews from ClientEarth and Trevor Hutchings from WWF-UK. We’re always interested to hear about innovative organisations and game-changers, so if you’re a company looking for PR support please do get in touch.