As we all gear up for the end-of-year climate change discussions in Paris, I thought the recent release of the State of the Voluntary Carbon Market report showcased some important information that could be relevant to the negotiations. The first is that land-based projects, with REDD at the forefront, are playing an increasingly important role in addressing climate change. This highlights the fact that a wide range of stakeholders have been dedicating time, effort and resources to develop high-quality, land-based projects. The second trend that was reinforced by the report is that buyers are increasingly interested and willing to pay more for projects with compelling non-carbon benefits. Because of the broad set of benefits these projects deliver, and the evidence that the market highly values the combination, I think it is safe to say that land-based projects, and REDD in particular, have turned a corner, and are ready to play a key role in a global agreement.
In this newsletter you will find a number of updates on important work we are doing here at VCS, both in respect of the VCS Program and the Climate, Community & Biodiversity (CCB) Standards which we now manage.

CCB Standards Projects Break New Ground
We are thrilled to announce two milestones related to the third edition of the CCB Standards. In May we saw the first project, the MJUMITA Community Forestry Project (Lindi), achieve verification to the third edition of the CCB Standards, which incorporated very useful feedback received from current users and other stakeholders. One of the innovations included in the third edition involved facilitating access of smallholder and community-led projects to carbon finance, accomplished through the addition of the programmatic approach, similar to the way that grouped projects work under the VCS Program. The Planting for the Future project in the Peruvian Amazon is the first project to be validated using the new programmatic approach.

Grant from Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) Continues to Spur Innovation 
With support from Norad, VCS hosted a workshop on the current state of REDD+ and its linkages with the broader concept of sustainable landscapes. This workshop, held in March in Costa Rica, brought together representatives of six REDD+ country governments, organizations supporting many more REDD+ countries, and funders. Participants shared their experiences and learnings regarding implementation of REDD+ projects and programs, and how these relate to sustainable agricultural production.

Later this fall, VCS will be organizing a workshop to engage key demand-side actors, including consumer goods companies, lenders, investors and donors. This workshop will feature the efforts of REDD+ jurisdictions to promote integrated sustainable landscape models and explore potential financing and incentive models to support sustainable landscape efforts.

Soliciting of Public Comments
You might have seen these already, but I did want to remind you that there are a number of items that are currently open for public comment. As always, we appreciate your informed input on any or all of these items.

  •  The first Jurisdictional and Nested REDD+ (JNR) Program, located in the State of Acre, Brazil, has begun the validation process. As the first step of its validation, the JNR Program Description (JPD) has been posted on the VCS website for a 60-day public comment period from 2 June 2015 to 1 August 2015.
  • There are two VCS methodologies open for public comment: a methodology for implementing REDD activities in landscapes affected by mosaic deforestation and degradation in South Asia; and a revision to VM0010 that adds a mechanism to quantify the emissions resulting from establishing forestry infrastructure.
  • Finally, there are three CCB Standards projects open for public comment. To see specifics of these projects please take a look at the Open for Comment tab on the CCB Standards website.

I also wanted to mention that later this week we will be releasing a call for public input on projects that have long planning periods and/or negative environmental or social impacts. Your input on these crucial issues is important to us, so keep an eye on your inbox for that.

Reminder: New Project Registration Fee Effective 1 July
I also wanted to remind you that the new project registration fee, which we announced in January, will become effective 1 July of this year. This means that projects requesting registration on or after 1 July will be subject to this fee. Further details about the registration fee are available on the VCS website in the Program Fee Schedule.

As a final note, a heartfelt thank you to all of you who voted for VCS as the “Best Voluntary Carbon Standard” in the Environmental Finance carbon market rankings. This is the fourth year we have earned the distinction as best Voluntary Carbon Standard and we continue to be humbled by the support we received to earn this title so many years in a row. It’s a great honor to know that all of our hard work is recognized and that it is helping you develop the ground-breaking projects we continue to see.

As always, please feel free to reach out to us on any of the above or if you have any questions about the VCS Program or the CCB Standards.