I returned from COP22 in Marrakech with renewed hope and determination. The energy on the ground was positive and focused on implementation and continuing the momentum of events preceding the COP, such as the Paris Agreement entering into force and the passing of ICAO’s Global Market Based Measure. At VCS, we share this determination to continue to tackle climate change and to promote sustainability and are encouraged by international public-private initiatives like the Commodities/Jurisdiction Approach, which will promote forest-friendly supply chains and which recognizes adherence by jurisdictions to VCS’s JNR framework as one way of doing that. We are also excited about new streams of green finance, like the IFC REDD Bond. And we are proud to be working with countries and jurisdictions around the world that are creating vehicles for reducing and offsetting emissions, like South Africa, Colombia and the state of California. There will always be challenges to climate action, but we recognize past successes and keep working towards the future.
Spotlight Story: GuateCarbon
In Uaxatún, some residents earn their living harvesting xate palm for the florist trade. In the past, buyers would pay by the pound, which incentivised broad-scale and unsustainable harvest of these leaves. GuateCarbon Project developers have worked with buyers to change incentives. Now, buyers pay by leaf quality rather than volume. It’s a subtle change, but one that allows harvesters to get the same earnings picking fewer leaves and that incentivizes picking only the best and leaving the rest to grow. Read the full story.
We had the opportunity to visit the GuateCarbon Project in Guatemala’s Maya Biosphere Reserve this September. From sustainable harvesting of timber and non-timber products, to monitoring the reserve and fire prevention, to investing in local economies and education, the GuateCarbon Project is a true multiple social and environmental benefit project. And oh yes, they produce carbon credits. Read all about our visit and the project on our blog.
VCS and CCB Program Updates
We work hard to ensure that our programs continually evolve to incorporate current best practice and respond to stakeholder needs. As a part of that, this month we are announcing updates to two of our major certification programs.
VCS Program Documents Updated
On 19 October we announced an update of several VCS Version 3 program documents which includes clarification of key programmatic concepts and some new requirements that more fully address project impacts and stakeholder engagement. Full announcement. List of all updates.
CCB Program Documents Updated and Open for Public Comment
The CCB Program has designed two new templates to support and standardize project reporting, making it easier for project proponents to report their results and convey their project achievements. Minor revisions have also been made to the CCB Standards in order to harmonize CCB Program requirements and procedures with those of the VCS Program. All updated and new documents are open for public comment through January 6th. See the new documents and submit your comments.
For those interested, CCB Program staff will host an informational webinar on 15 December to present these updates and the rationale behind them. Register for the webinar.
JNR Recognized by New Commodity Sourcing Initiative
This November, our pioneering Jurisdictional and Nested REDD (JNR) framework was recognized by an exciting new initiative working to facilitate sourcing of reduced-deforestation commodities.
Developed in partnership between the United States Government and experts from across the public and private sectors, the Commodities/Jurisdiction Approach facilitates sourcing for companies that have made deforestation-free or reduction commitments by identifying jurisdictions implementing strong forest policies.
After a rigorous assessment, scenarios 2 and 3 under the VCS JNR framework have been recognized and approved by the initiative, allowing companies sourcing commodities to look to jurisdictions applying JNR as sources of reduced-deforestation products. More on JNR and the Commodities/Jurisdiction Approach.
IFC REDD Bond Features Kasigau REDD+ Project
On 8 November, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) listed a first-of-its-kind Forest Bond to help with global efforts to prevent deforestation. Investors in the $152 million bond can choose whether they want to be paid in cash and/or an equivalent amount of carbon credits issued by the VCS and CCB certified Kasigau Corridor REDD Project. To qualify for the bond, a project had to be verified to both the VCS and CCB Standards, to ensure both quality credits and positive social and environmental impacts. With its excellent track record of producing high-quality carbon credits and supporting community livelihoods, the Kasigau project fit the bill. The bond represents a big step for mainstreaming forest finance and for protecting forest ecosystems vital to slowing climate change.
Forest Carbon Market Leaders
Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace State of Forest Carbon Finance reports that in 2015, VCS’ standards lead the voluntary forest carbon market in credits transacted and issued. VCS credits accounted for almost half of all voluntary forest carbon offsets transacted last year. More than half of those offsets were labeled to demonstrate verification to the Climate, Community & Biodiversity (CCB) Standards. Forest carbon offset issuances also reached a record high in 2015, with VCS projects leading the way. Read the full report.
Open for Public Comment
The Chyulu Hills REDD+ Project works to halt deforestation across three counties in Kenya. The project has hired and trained forest rangers to protect threatened wildlife, including the critically endangered black rhino, and works with local farmers to reduce over-grazing and improve agricultural practices. The Project Implementation Report is available for public comment.
The Amazon Rio REDD+ IFM project reduced emissions through avoided degradation, while protecting local species and promoting regional health and women’s empowerment outcomes. The Project Design Document is available for public comment.
The Restoration of Degraded Areas and Reforestation in Cáceres and Cravo Norte, Colombia Project reforests land once used for mining and cattle ranching and creates habitat corridors. The Project Implementation Report is available for public comment.
VCS is hiring for two new positions that reflect the growing scope of our work. We are looking for a dedicated Program Officer to support two of our newest initiatives and for a seasoned Grants Manager. These positions are great opportunities for people looking to support climate and sustainable development through innovative standards programs. Please see our Opportunitiespage for details and to apply.