Pardon Our Dust: How Verra Is Meeting the Demands of Tomorrow’s Carbon Market
The current unprecedented demand for climate action has strained the capacity of organizations working to deliver high-quality carbon credits at scale, including Verra and its Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) Program. This has led to prolonged processing times for project listings, project registrations, and credit issuances. We appreciate that this has caused frustration amongst some of you, and we want to share what we are doing to continue to provide the support you have grown to expect from Verra.
In order to accelerate these processes without sacrificing environmental integrity, Verra is implementing several changes that fall broadly into three interrelated categories: those that promote consistency among validation/verification bodies (VVBs), those that reallocate processes within Verra, and those that systematize and automate key procedures.
Supporting and strengthening the capacity of VVBs
Significant delays arise when documents are passed back and forth between VVBs and Verra staff who review requests for listing, registration, and issuance. These delays often arise from inconsistent approaches among VVBs in their interpretation of the VCS rules.
In order to promote consistency and capacity, and to reduce the need for Verra staff to send documentation back to the VVBs, Verra is undertaking two major initiatives:
- We are building out a dedicated auditing and accreditation team that will directly oversee the work of VVBs. While this work has previously been done by Verra staff, this new team will be charged with systematically reviewing VVB performances and sanctioning them when necessary. Now that travel restrictions are easing, this team will also ensure that Verra staff accompany VVBs on site visits to assess their performance.
- We plan to provide direct and structured support to VVBs through formalized and targeted VVB training as well as ongoing support. To avoid any conflicts of interest, these activities will be undertaken by a new team that is operationally independent from the team responsible for reviewing requests for listing, registration, and issuance. It will be led by senior staff in Verra who have already conducted numerous VCS training programs.
Streamlining the work of staff members responsible for processing listings, registrations, and issuances
Verra staff currently spend considerable time fielding general inquiries from stakeholders, many of whom are new to carbon finance and require significant shepherding through the project development process. These queries add a considerable burden to the staff responsible for reviewing requests for listing, registration, and issuance. To address this bottleneck, we have undertaken the following two actions:
- We have shifted responsibility for handling such inquiries away from the team that oversees requests for listing, registration, and issuance, thereby freeing up that team to focus exclusively on reviewing project-specific requests.
- The team that will now be in charge of responding to general enquiries is developing standard operating procedures for reviewing inquiries and providing more guidance online. This will provide structured onboarding for new developers and ensure consistency across projects, thus accelerating later processes such as validation, verification, and issuance.
Implementing new tools for tracking project review requests
Verra is implementing several procedural and technological changes to the ways it processes requests for listing, registration, and issuance. Specifically, Verra:
- Has revised its project review checklists and templates to provide a standardized process for reviewing and managing project requests;
- Has put in place a new system for tracking all projects from listing through to validation, verification, and issuance processes. This system will enhance how we track project requests, including providing us clear information regarding timelines so that we can avoid unnecessary delays;
- Is building out a new stakeholder portal where proponents will be able to check the status of their projects as they go through Verra reviews. The stakeholder portal is currently under construction, and we expect to launch it by the end of July.
We anticipate that these changes will streamline the project review process and thereby help support the growing needs of this market. As always, we welcome feedback on our operations and, in the meantime, will provide additional updates as these changes are implemented in the coming months.
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