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The Standardisation of Natural Capital Accounting Methodologies

The Standardisation of Natural Capital Accounting Methodologies
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Author(s): Sylvain Maechler (University of Lausanne, Switzerland)and Jean-Christophe Graz (University of Lausanne, Switzerland)
Copyright: 2020
Pages: 27
Source title: Shaping the Future Through Standardization
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Kai Jakobs (RWTH Aachen University, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2181-6.ch002


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The global ecological crisis has prompted the development of tools that try to redefine relations between business and nature, among them, natural capital accounting methodologies. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) recently set standards on which these methodologies are based. Other actors, including the Big Four audit and accounting firms, developed their own methodologies outside the scope of ISO. This chapter examines why and how ISO developed natural capital accounting standards that are likely to compete with other methodologies. From the assumption that standards are not just technical, but also political instruments, it argues that they shape the future by creating power relations between actors within and outside ISO. The chapter suggests that these ISO standards aims at competing with first-movers' methodologies, in particular on the power implications resulting from transparency. It builds the argument on international political economy approaches to emphasise the link between technical specifications and power relations in contemporary capitalism.

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