"This initiative complements a wider shift in focus towards social and governance policy issues surrounding land based mitigation activities, based on an increasing realization that social sustainability is key to carbon sustainability, and concerns about the potential negative social impacts of REDD+."
Authors: Forest Trends' Michael Richards and Steve Panfil with key inputs by Nigel Pitman, Steven Price, Natasha Calderwood and Julie Fischer.
Partners: Forest Trends and CCBA, with Rainforest Alliance and Fauna & Flora International (FFI).
Sponsors: PROFOR, Morgan Stanley, USAID-TransLinks, GEF-UNDP, Rockfeller Foundation and NORAD provided financial support.
Are land-based carbon projects good for local people?
Many rural communities are keen to embark on carbon projects as a way of generating income, jobs, and other social benefits. Offset buyers are also attracted to the idea of reducing emissions and simultaneously helping local people. Others are wary that these projects may do more harm than good. However, until recently, there was no clear methodological guidance for carbon project developers to track social and biodiversity impacts. The combination of robust standards for assessing the social performance of projects, and the use of credible methods of social impact assessment could help ensure positive outcomes for local people.
The emphasis in the early years of the carbon markets has been mainly on assuring the integrity of project emission reductions; co-benefits have received much less attention. But the balance is changing, and there are justifiable concerns that co-benefits must, like carbon, be real, ‘additional’ and, as far as possible, measurable. This is partly necessary for market confidence as offset buyers increasingly seek evidence that they are getting what they pay for, including co-benefits. On ethical or equity grounds, carbon projects must at the very least ‘do no harm’ (See related IIED conclusions on REDD+ in the miombo drylands.)
A cost-effective and credible impact assessment toolbox would help carbon project developers meet the verification requirements of the Climate, Community & Biodiversity (CCB) Standards and contribute to building more robust, sustainable projects.
In response to such issues, Forest Trends has formed an alliance with three other NGOs – the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA), Rainforest Alliance, and Fauna & Flora International (FFI) – to produce a user-friendly Manual for project proponents on how to conduct cost-effective and credible social impact assessment. Support for this project comes from PROFOR, Morgan Stanley, NORAD, GEF-UNDP, and USAID-Translinks.
The manual is intended for carbon offset project designers and implementers who are not specialists in monitoring and evaluation (M&E).
The Manual was field-tested in 2010 i