Community and Biodiversity Standards

The Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standards (CCBS) is a project design standard and offers rules and guidance for project design and development. It is intended to be applied early on during a project’s design phase to ensure robust project design and local community and biodiversity benefits. It does not verify quantified carbon offsets nor does it provide a registry. The CCBS focus exclusively on land-based biosequestration and mitigation projects and require social and environmental benefits from such projects.

History of Standard
The CCBS was developed by the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) with feedback and suggestions from independent experts. CCBA is a
partnership of non-governmental organizations, corporations and research institutes, such as Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, CARE, Sustainable Forestry Management, BP and CATIE. The first edition was released in May 2005.

Administrative Bodies
CCB Alliance is formed by representatives from each member organisation. The alliance currently has 13 members and makes decisions about changes to the standards. It also works closely with the auditors, advising them on interpretation and application of the standards.

Working groups are comprised of alliance members and external advisors and are appointed when needed to address specific issues. Working groups proposals for
changes must be approved by the Alliance.

Third-party auditors are certified DOEs under the CDM for afforestation and reforestation – organizations that are approved to evaluate CDM projects – or evaluatorswho are certified under the Forest Stewardship Council . Validation and verification can be done by the same auditor.

Financing of the S Standard Organisation
The Community and Biodiversity Standards are managed by the CCBA which is supported by contributions from alliance member organizations and by foundation grants.

Recognition of Other Standards
Because Community and Biodiversity Standards is a project design standard only, and not a full fledged carbon offset standard, project developers who want to sell certified or verified emissions have to apply another standard to get certification and registration of their offsets. About 30% of the projects are developed as CDM projects that will generate CERs. 70% of the projects are looking to sell their offsets in the voluntary market. Projects may combine the use of several different standards (e.g. CCBS to ensure validity of design to generate carbon credits with social and environmentalbenefits, FSC for certification of timber products, and the VCS for verification and registration of carbon credits). Using different standards might potentially help projects attract different funders and product buyers at different stages in the project cycle.

Number of Projects
As of September 2007, two projects have been validated against CCBS, a further five projects are undergoing validation and at least 20 more projects plan for CCBS
validation in the coming few months. Over 70 projects are under development using the CCB Standards. The pool is growing by a few projects every month.

Comments on CCBS
Project Design Standard - The Community and Biodiversity Standards is intended to be used as a design tool to ensure robust multiple-benefits will be delivered. Project design standards for forestry projects are especially valuable and important, since carbon verification standards typically do not come into play until many years after the project has been designed and after upfront investment has been secured.

Co-Benefits - CCBS emphasizes the social and environmental benefits of projects and has developed a set of useful tools and guidelines to ensure and measure these co-benefits. Some of their criteria are quite specific (e.g. biodiversity rules) while others are defined in very general terms (e.g. stakeholder and capacity building rules). Using general language to define requirements gives the project developer the flexibility to address the issue in a way that fits the project best yet it also places more onus on the auditor’s judgment when making the assessment. Quality of projects can therefore only be assured if auditors are truly independent and adhere to high standards in their work.

No Separation of Verification and Approval of Projects - Under the Community and Biodiversity Standards it is the auditors themselves that approve the projects. Given the pressures on auditors and conflict of interest discussed earlier, we see the lack of an accrediting board as a potential weakness of the CCBS. The CCBA is currently working fairly actively with auditors, because the validation procedures haveonly recently been defined and some initial guidance was needed. Also, the CCBA has been soliciting auditor feedback to help inform the development of the 2nd edition of the CCBS (to be developed in 2008). However, CCBA expects less and less engagement with projects and auditors. This separation of CCBA, auditors and project developers is needed since it helps minimize a potential conflict of interest between the project developer and the CCBS.

Source: WWF Germany, March 2008, Making Sense of the Voluntary Carbon Market: A Comparison of Carbon Offset Standards, Anja Kollmuss (SEI-US), Helge Zink (Tricorona), Clifford Polycarp (SEI-US). Full report is available as a PDF here.