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Measures of equity for multi-capital accounting


Inequity is one of the primary economic and societal risks posed by the global food system, yet measures of inequity are missing from prominent corporate tools that aim to account for the impact of the economic activities associated with food production, manufacturing and retail. Here we suggest new metrics to measure socio-economic, gender, racial, generational and risk divides between the bearers of natural, social and human capital costs and those of benefits.

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Fig. 1: A common approach to valuation of impacts.
Fig. 2: Disaggregated natural capital and social and human capital costs and benefits.
Fig. 3: Comparison of hypothetical cocoa product value chains A and B.

Data availability

The datasets generated during the current study are available in the Oxford Research Archive at HDI and GII data are publicly available from the UNDP at

Code availability

The code generated during the current study to implement optimal transport and calculate SES and SES-G statistics is available in the Oxford Research Archive at and can be used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 (CC BY 2.0) license.


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Author information




S.L. conceived the article, performed the research and wrote the article. J.S.I.I. contributed to content, research and writing of the article.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Steven Lord.

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Competing interests

S.L. receives funding from the Food System Impact Valuation Initiative. The Food System Impact Valuation Initiative is funded by the Global Alliance for the Future of Food, Compassion in World Farming UK, World Business Council on Sustainable Development, the Sir Peter Elworthy Grant Programme, Nestle UK & Ireland, Danone and Yara International. The funders had no role in the conceptualization, design, analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. J.S.I.I. declares no competing interests.

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Peer review information Nature Food thanks Paul Winters, Valeria Pineiro and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Lord, S., Ingram, J.S.I. Measures of equity for multi-capital accounting. Nat Food 2, 646–654 (2021).

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