Voluntary compensation


Tumpor Cloud Forest; Photo: Jeremy Holden / SNV REDD

In this report, the German Environment Ministry (BMUB) and the environmental and development organisation Germanwatch present new recommendations and criteria for climate protection projects in the forest sector that plan to generate emission certificates for the voluntary carbon market. It aims to provide clear guidance for the application of one or more REDD+ standards to be used under the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of BMUB and others. This will provide better orientation for anyone looking for meaningful and sustainable voluntary greenhouse gas compensation projects that meet ambitious environmental and social standards.

The various certification standards used on the voluntary carbon market have different emphases and in some cases, the quality of the social and environmental provisions varies considerably. Together with Germanwatch, BMUB has therefore developed guidelines for project managers that clearly indicate the minimum requirements for such certification standards.

A joint study by BMUB and Germanwatch provides the basis for these guidelines. It focuses on four criteria: climate integrity, biodiversity conservation, human and community rights, stakeholder participation and sustainable community development, and sustainability. Based on these criteria, eight existing certification standards were assessed in the study.

As a result, BMUB and Germanwatch recommend a combination of existing standards, which certify emission reductions as well as provisions related to biodiversity and social issues. These are the existing certification standards:

  • Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) or American Carbon Registry Forest Carbon Project Standard (ACR) to assess emission reductions
  • Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard (CCBS) to assess compliance with biodiversity and social provisions

VCS and CCBS are both standards that have been practically tested and that are already frequently applied in combination. The guidelines that are now being presented go one step further and include additional requirements: taking greater consideration of human rights and aligning the projects with the objectives of national forest policies. Moreover, the success of the guidelines will depend on their practical implementation by certifying organisations, civil society and governments.