The restoration of natural capital, including sustainable living, is more achievable and also much more needed, than is commonly thought. Beatus, a company created by Prof James Blignaut, brings together theory and the concept of sustainable living with practical realities. Click here to view some of the projects that Beatus is involved in. 

Current projects

ASSET Research ( is doing this study in collaboration with SAEON ( and the Natural Resource Management programme of the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA:NRM) (

Completed projects
The full cost of the siltation of dams in South Africa

ASSET Research ( did this study in collaboration with SAEON ( and the Natural Resource Management programme of the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA:NRM) (

The siltation of dams is, by and large, the result of soil movement in the upper reaches of the catchment. The degree to which a dam is affected by siltation is influenced by, among others, the dam site, the surrounding geology and land cover, the land use and ensuing land management, and the dam type and size. The consequences, and hence societal costs, of siltation varies from dam to dam pending its location, the degree of siltation, and both the up and downstream economic and ecological activities impacted by the dam and its siltation. While siltation has been studied extensively, the full societal cost thereof has received precariously little attention.

This project aims to provide a thorough analysis of the economic cost of siltation across a number of dam sites in SA (controlling for geography, climate, land use, dam size, dam type, etc.). Determining the economic cost would include considering issues such as a loss in yield, carbon deposit, methane emissions, loss in land productivity as a result of the erosion, and the cost due to a lack of natural silt flows into estuaries, etc.

Sustainable farming as a viable option for enhanced food and nutritional security and a sustainable productive resource base

Funder: Green Fund - Development Bank of Southern Africa and the Department of Environment Affairs

The Government of South Africa recognises the vulnerability of a fifth of South African households to food insecurity. The roles of farmers and cooperatives as well as agro-processing businesses are recognised in addressing food security, job creation and economic development objectives. Policies and programmes are being targeted at accelerating a shift to agro-ecological agriculture (including conservation agriculture) and agriculture which can create large numbers of jobs and a sufficient and stable income for South Africans.

A transition to a green economy in South Africa is also underway, supported by several policies and plans. Integrated sustainable agricultural production is recognised as one of nine focus areas for green economy programmes. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) defines the green economy as one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental and ecological scarcities. Greening the Economy with Agriculture (GEA), according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), refers to ensuring the right to adequate food, as well as food and nutrition security in terms of food availability, access, stability and utilization and contributing to the quality of rural livelihoods, while efficiently managing natural resources and improving resilience and equity throughout the food supply chain, taking into account countries individual circumstances.

At this stage more research is needed on the parameters under which a green economy is feasible in several sectors, including the agricultural sector. Whilst international research in sustainable agriculture has been on-going for many years, agricultural research in South Africa has barely started to engage with these issues and there is a lack of supporting evidence, both quantitative and qualitative. This is hindering progressive policy development and investment.

Literature review - click here to download

Field report - click here to download

Booklets - click here to download booklet 1 and click here to download booklet 2

Final policy briefs as published by the DBSA, GreenFund:

Research Policy Brief No. 2, Implications for a Future Agrarian Structure in South Africa based on Conservation and Sustainable Agriculture: Alignment of a Multi-Institutional and Multi-Stakeholder Landscape, Asset Research

Research Policy Brief No. 3, Promoting and Advancing the Uptake of Sustainable, Regenerative, Conservation Agriculture in the Maize Production Sector, Asset Research

Research Policy Brief No. 4, An Application of Conservation Agriculture to Beef Production, Asset Research

The following are more projects completed by ASSET Research. Where available, a link to the final project report is provided.

  • The financing mechanisms associated with achieving green drop rating - download final report
  • Determining the economic risk/return parameters for developing a market for ecosystem goods and services following the restoration of natural capital: a system dynamics approach download final report
  • Environmental and Resource Economics Training


The following are some more examples of ASSET Research's projects:

  • An investigation into the effect of an electricity generation tax on the economy of South Africa (National Treasury, Development Network Africa)
  • In-Field Rainwater Harvesting and Water Conservation Techniques: Assessing the Impact of Ten Years of WRC-funded Research in Thaba Nchu (Water Research Commission)
  • Investigation of the positive and negative consequences associated with the introduction of low-P detergents (Institute of Natural Resources)
  • Develop a generic model to assess the cost associated with eutrophication in South Africa and apply it to the Vaal River (Institute of Natural Resources)

For a full description of the projects, download this pdf.



At the annual gala evening and awards ceremony of the WRC, which took place on 26 September 2013, ASSET Research won the prize for Human Capacity Building for its WRC RNC project.


(Download a summary of this project here)

As a research and capacity-building organisation, we combine and capitalise on the collective knowledge and experience from regional and international researchers and practitioners in the social and natural sciences to seek new solutions, new mindsets and new directions custom-made for the interlinked economic, environmental and social conditions of sub-Saharan Africa. New models of socio-economic development are sought and tested, based on the over-arching goals of restoration and rehabilitation of degraded and outmoded systems, and the restoration of healthy i.e. economically, culturally and ecologically sound-trajectories for development and growth. ASSET Research strives for excellence and originality in its work, and adopts an unwavering ethic of stewardship as evident through an emphasis on justice, care and prudent management.

ASSET Research is concerned not only with economic growth, and cold and dry socioeconomic statistics, but also pays attention to the quality of growth and development, and honours the dignity of all human beings. We seek justice in the face of corruption, rampant markets, irresponsibility and disrespect for human life and the environment. We are inspired by the resilience of the people living on the African continent and Madagascar. Through our research programmes, we seek to unleash these formidable forces in a way that will improve the well-being of the largest possible number of hungry, poor and deprived people.