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Choosing a Carbon Standard

The Blue Forests Project has leveraged two methods of carbon financing to quantify carbon stocks: Plan Vivo and Verified Carbon Standard. Plan Vivo is a charity that works with small land holders and communities on sustainable land use management projects. They have developed a framework for Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES). Eligible activities (for generating Plan Vivo Certificates) are afforestation and agroforestry, forest conservation, restoration and avoided deforestation. 

 

In Kenya, the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) has one certified Plan Vivo program Mikoko Pamoja in Gazi Bay, Kenya and is in the process of developing a second Vanga Blue Forest in Vanga Bay. Blue Forests has developed a Plan Vivo project in Tahiry Honko in southwestern Madagascar

 

The VCS program (developed and administered by Verra) is the most widely used GHG program in the world, including for nature-based (agriculture, forestry and other land-use or “AFOLU”) projects. Blue Ventures is developing a blue carbon (mangrove) conservation and restoration project at its northwest site in Madagascar, to be validated under the VCS. The steps of project development and a comparison between the two standards from the project experiences of the Madagascar and Kenyan blue forests projects are presented here. 

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Benefits and challenges identified within each
VCM carbon standard

Advantages – Both Standards

Advantages – Verra (Verified Carbon Standard)

  • Performance based; incentivizes conservation/restoration and ensures all parties get something for their investment. Supports evidence-based, robust marine conservation which in turn supports resilient coastlines and communities.

  • Availability of the scientific data gathered to estimate carbon emission reductions/removals can fill in critical data gaps

  • In areas with a high rate of mangrove deforestation the  avoided emissions reduction with a project can be high.

  • Project can facilitate and establish management transfer contract giving legal right to communities.

  • Project activities can create potential change on the national policy by both filling data gaps, identifying needs and creating awareness and education about these ecosystems; i.e. mangrove/REDD+ legal framework, NDC’s etc.

  • World’s leading voluntary GHG program: most robust and respected voluntary standard in the world

  • Can be associated with additional standard: CCBA (Climate, Community, & Biodiversity Alliance) or Social Carbon certification to demonstrate social impact benefits beyond GHG emission reductions or removals (VCUs-labelled)

  • Existence of Wetlands Technical Working Group, Verra Blue Carbon Working Group to scale blue carbon and wetland restoration and conservation activities

Advantages – Both Standards

Advantages – Plan Vivo Standard

Advantages – Verra 

  • Potential change on the national policy; mangrove/REDD+ legal framework, NDC’s etc.

  • Charcoal issue/mangrove illegal harvest; uncertainties for the community commitments respect (strict conservation, sustainable use)

  • Takes time to develop

  • Due to validation and reporting requirements, very hard for community organisations to apply for and manage themselves.

  • Long- term financing for locally led management and community development/livelihood/welfare projects that can be hard to find from traditional philanthropic donors.

  • Charcoal issue/mangrove illegal harvest; uncertainties for the community commitments respect (strict conservation, sustainable use)

  • Clear/Methodology guidance for emission reduction estimation not available: approval of the technical specification depends on Plan Vivo Technical Advisory Committee

  • High cost for the certification of the Standard (tab cost). Project needs to be at a full scale immediately to make financially viable

  • Due to validation and reporting requirements, very hard for community organizations to apply for and manage themselves.

Challenges – Both Standards

Challenges – Plan Vivo Standard

Challenges – Verra (Verified Carbon Standard)

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Step 1

Plan Vivo:

  • Conduct community consultations (village level)

  • Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) - approx. 50 consultations of villages concerned

Verra: 

  • Verification/approval of Methodology to assess GHG emission reduction (validation/verification of body)

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Step 2

Plan Vivo:

  • Conduct community consultations (village level)

  • Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) - approx. 50 consultations of villages concerned

Verra: 

  • Verification/approval of Methodology to assess GHG emission reduction (validation/verification of body)

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Step 3

Plan Vivo:

  • Conduct community consultations (village level)

  • Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) - approx. 50 consultations of villages concerned

Verra: 

  • Verification/approval of Methodology to assess GHG emission reduction (validation/verification of body)

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Step 4

Plan Vivo:

  • Conduct community consultations (village level)

  • Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) - approx. 50 consultations of villages concerned

Verra: 

  • Verification/approval of Methodology to assess GHG emission reduction (validation/verification of body)