Verra is continuing to advance the development of its Sustainable Development Verified Impact Standard (SD VISta) Nature Framework (Nature Framework) by publishing comprehensive stakeholder feedback on the framework’s first draft (v0.1) (PDF). Integrating this feedback will contribute to the framework’s clarity, practicality, local appropriateness, scalability, and ease of use.

This feedback comes from the following sources:

Verra will incorporate this feedback into version 1.0 of the Nature Framework, which is expected to launch in late 2024. Please see below for more details on the Nature Framework, key takeaways from the feedback-gathering process, and summaries of the public consultation comments and Verra’s responses.

About the Nature Framework

The Nature Framework is an asset methodology under Verra’s SD VISta Program. It aims to certify and incentivize widespread investment in measurable positive biodiversity outcomes benefiting nature and people.

The Nature Framework outlines how projects can generate Nature Credits, which represent one quality hectare equivalent of biodiversity uplift from a baseline as a result of the project intervention. Purchasing Nature Credits constitutes an investment in nature that enables interested buyers to demonstrate their contributions to a nature-positive future.

Consultation Takeaways and Next Steps

During the late 2023 consultation, Verra sought feedback on the draft Nature Framework, including its proposed concepts and core principles; the safeguards for Indigenous Peoples and local communities, including customary rights holders and other stakeholders; and the quantification process for issuing standardized units.

After gathering and analyzing feedback on version 0.1 of the Nature Framework, Verra had two key takeaways.

First, the feedback showed strong support for developing the Nature Framework. Respondents shared constructive thoughts on improving key design elements (e.g., Nature Credits’ additionality, value proposition, and demand use cases) and technical aspects of quantifying Nature Credits (e.g., crediting baselines, reference values). Verra will continue to develop these elements in the next draft, building on the input and learnings from this round of feedback.

Second, respondents also strongly supported Verra’s initial proposal to explore nature stewardship credits or certificates. This proposed unit type, which is distinct from Nature Credits, would increase the financial viability of historically well-managed areas by rewarding successful, verified nature conservation and management outcomes based on the stability and resilience of ecosystems. Respondents highlighted that the development of these units must effectively involve Indigenous Peoples. Verra will pursue and test nature stewardship credits or certificates as a mechanism to reward Indigenous Peoples and local communities for conserving essential, intact biodiversity. Verra will begin exploring partnerships and approaching key stakeholders who could support the technical development of a pathway for nature stewardship.

Verra is thankful for all respondents who took the time to share their comprehensive feedback. Verra’s priority is to support the integrity of the nascent biodiversity credit market, the Nature Framework, and Nature Credits. All participant opinions hold equal merit in informing the next steps. Verra will continue to listen to all voices while incorporating feedback and participating in discussions in an effort to align the Nature Framework with the broader biodiversity credit market development.

Verra is also grateful for the pilot project proponents, who have committed to participating in an extended process that is helping to make the Nature Framework more practical, rigorous, and scalable.

Verra held a public consultation to gather input on key concepts (e.g., quantification, additionality, and safeguards) in the draft Nature Framework. Over a 60-day period, stakeholders submitted responses to 62 questions covering the Nature Framework’s 21 sections.

The comments fell into two categories:

  1. Comments from stakeholders. In total, 42 individual respondents from the general public contributed 994 comments. These respondents provided a range of perspectives and included academics, project developers, prospective Nature Credit buyers, and others.
  2. Comments from pilot project proponents. In total, the proponents of 10 pilot projects provided 366 responses, offering practical insight into their hands-on experience applying the draft Nature Framework.

Feedback from both groups has been consolidated in the Nature Framework 2023 Public Consultation: Summary of Comments and Verra Responses (PDF). The individual comments from the general public and pilot project proponents are included in the Nature Framework 2023 Public Consultation: Full List of Comments (PDF).

Verra, in partnership with Conservation International, initiated a dialogue where Indigenous Peoples and members of local communities could (1) voice their concerns on the biodiversity credit market and how it might affect them and (2) provide input on the Nature Framework’s first draft. The consultation consisted of interactive sessions and written feedback.

To accommodate different languages and support cross-cultural engagement, Verra and Conservation International provided participants with the Nature Framework, its summary, and the presentations in English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish.

In total, Verra held eight live sessions. Five were virtual, while an additional three sessions took place at the following events: the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)’s Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical, and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) 2023; the 2023 National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) Annual Convention; and the 28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP28) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In addition to the live sessions, there was one on-demand virtual session.

Verra also offered the option to provide feedback through an online form and received 17 comments from three individual respondents this way.

Verra has published its learnings from this feedback in the Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Consultation: Summary of Input (PDF).

Verra also collected practical feedback from a cohort of 31 pilot projects. The two-phased pilot project process aims to test the clarity, scalability, reasonableness, usability, and local appropriateness of the Nature Framework with real-life biodiversity projects.

Verra ran a desktop exercise where pilot project proponents applied the draft Nature Framework rules and requirements to their project and completed a project description template. Through collaborative one-on-one interactions, Verra solicited constructive feedback about pilot projects’ responses to the Nature Framework’s proposed rules and requirements.

Verra has published learnings from this exercise in Nature Framework Pilot Projects – Phase I: Summary of Learnings (PDF).