Verra is moving toward a new era of scaling our impact, engaging more actively with our stakeholders, and achieving operational excellence to effectively advance climate action and sustainable development.
We have an enormous responsibility in the marketplace, and we take it seriously.
New research from Trove finds that investment levels in the voluntary carbon market (VCM) have peaked during the past three years, reaching $18 billion — half of the funds invested over the entire previous decade. This is indicative of an industry planning for significant future growth. The same study finds that a further $90 billion in capital will be needed by 2030 to achieve the volume of credits required under the 1.5°C scenario. To get there, the market needs quality standards, like those that Verra develops and manages, to ensure investments deliver impact.
Before we formalized our roadmap to enable this scaling and transformation, we wanted a clear understanding of the collective perspectives of our stakeholders. Verra leadership recently conducted a listening tour with 30+ organizations, paired with a stakeholder survey that had 500+ respondents across the VCM ecosystem. We received candid, constructive feedback that highlighted the need for Verra to be a successful leader in the market — and identified ways to facilitate that process.
Based on that feedback, we identified three thematic areas we must focus on to guarantee the most impact. Below are our commitments to our stakeholders as they relate to these three areas.
We are in this together. We look forward to working with you in this ecosystem of action to achieve our shared mission.
Goal: To invest in developing the capabilities and infrastructure needed to deliver excellence.
- Verra commits to a multiyear digitalization initiative to invest in the technology needed to significantly increase transparency and efficiency and scale up our operations. In Q3 2023, we delivered the Project Tracker, the first phase of Verra’s Project Hub. Next month, we are launching the digital version of our updated AFOLU Non-Permanence Risk Tool. In Q4 2023, we will add a digital project submission tool (and supporting digitalized methodologies) for all Verra standards programs, and we will also introduce the Project Location Review Tool.
- We have begun defining and executing a service-level agreement (SLA) lifecycle process to provide better service, consistency, and transparency to our stakeholders in the project review process. By Q1 2024, we will publish SLA targets for Verra’s project review processes, including targets for the response and resolution of stakeholder queries. In short, this means project proponents will know how long a project review will take from the outset.
- In Q4 2023, Verra will establish a new Stakeholder Service Team, responsible for quickly responding to stakeholder queries and providing a higher quality of service.
- In January 2024, we will launch a validation/verification body (VVB) performance management program to ensure that projects seeking registration and/or issuance with Verra undergo high-quality audits. The program will include more training and support for VVBs and enhanced criteria for tracking the quality of VVB audits.
Goal: To leverage the latest science and best practices to enhance Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) Program integrity and scale up climate action and impact.
- Verra has published the process, timelines, and sequencing for periodic review of existing methodologies. In December 2022, we announced our commitment to reviewing all eligible and approved methodologies every five years. This review process will ensure that all methodologies in the VCS Program remain usable and consistent with program requirements, market best practices (including the ICVCM’s Core Carbon Principles), and the latest scientific evidence.
- In the coming weeks, we will relaunch our VCS Advisory Group. This updated group of independent experts represents a cross section of VCM stakeholders and will support continual improvements to the VCS Program, including the release of VCS Program, v5.0. The advisory group will add another layer of rigor and stakeholder insight to Verra’s program development process, in addition to the transparent public consultations Verra holds on all program updates, as well as new methodologies and changes to existing methodologies.
- Verra’s new consolidated REDD methodology for avoiding unplanned deforestation (AUD) is nearly complete and will be released before COP28. The new methodology takes a top-down approach to baseline setting, which includes ensuring that all activities in a jurisdiction “add up,” removing potential for conflict of interest, and better aligning with national REDD+ programs. The consolidated methodology, which will incorporate five separate methodologies for AUD, is now under its second review by an independent auditor.
- In Q4 2023, we will launch an independent research initiative, which is a landmark measure to shape the direction of the VCM and assess its climate, biodiversity, and social impacts. This initiative will bring together respected and independent experts across regions and sectors to collaborate on a suite of research projects that add data, analysis, and perspectives to ongoing discussions in this critical climate action space. We look forward to forming productive research collaboratives to advance dialogue in this area.
Goal: To acknowledge and uphold our responsibility to others – stakeholders, the market, people, and the planet.
- We commit to enhancing our work with governments. Carbon crediting programs are already succeeding in channeling – and have the potential to considerably scale up – the flows of finance, technology, and capacity that are needed to help countries set and meet increasingly ambitious climate goals. Verra currently has eight MOUs with governmental entities (Argentina, Benin, Cambodia, Chile, Mexico, Pakistan, Panama, and Singapore), and we are in the process of concluding several more. These MOUs support capacity building and discussions around technical matters, including registry development and linkages.
- We will extend our registry services to responsible, high-integrity partners to support the building of a large, impactful, global carbon market.
- As an accredited observer to the United Nations Environment Programme, Verra is participating actively in the negotiating sessions for a legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution (Global Plastic Treaty). Our particular focus is to educate governments and other stakeholders about how high-integrity plastic crediting programs can channel finance to plastic waste collection and/or recycling activities and help achieve the goals of the Global Plastic Treaty.
- In partnership with one of our global NGO partners, we are holding a consultation process focused on learning from and engaging with Indigenous Peoples and local communities to inform Verra’s Nature Framework and its safeguards. We will use the learnings from this consultation to further update the social and environmental safeguards across all Verra programs. In 2024, we plan to develop a tool to facilitate the identification of social and environmental risks in Verra projects, supported by guidance for implementing and assessing safeguards and other core requirements such as stakeholder engagement, benefit sharing, and Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC). This tool will also help projects identify and align their sustainable development outcomes with the Sustainable Development Goals.