About NAI / Our Story

Natural Assets Initiative - Making Nature Count

The Natural Assets Initiative (NAI) is changing the way municipalities deliver everyday services, increasing the quality and resilience of infrastructure at lower costs and reduced risk. The NAI team provides scientific, economic and municipal expertise to support and guide local governments in identifying, valuing and accounting for natural assets in their financial planning and asset management programs, and in developing leading-edge, sustainable and climate-resilient infrastructure.

Local governments across Canada are faced with significant asset management challenges. Many of the services they provide—including water and wastewater, waste removal, transportation, and environmental services—depend, in large part, on engineered infrastructure assets that are in need of renewal. Meanwhile, the effects of climate change are expected to put even more strain on these assets and on local government budgets.

To provide community services in a cost-effective and sustainable manner now and into the future, local governments are looking for ways to improve management of the critical assets that supply these services.

Asset management—the process of inventorying a community’s existing assets, determining the current state of those assets, and preparing and implementing a plan to maintain or replace those assets—allows municipalities to make informed decisions regarding a community’s assets and finances.

Unfortunately, local governments lack policies to measure and manage one class of assets: natural assets. Natural assets are ecosystem features that provide, or could be restored to provide, services just like the other engineered assets, but historically have not been considered on equal footing or included in asset management plans.

What is a natural asset?

The term Natural Assets refers to the stocks of natural resources or ecosystems that contribute to the provision of one or more services required for the health, well-being, and long-term sustainability of a community and its residents.