Plan Vivo

Plan Vivo (PV) is an Offset Project Method for small scale LULUCF projects with a focus on promoting sustainable development and improving rural livelihoods and ecosystems. PV works very closely with rural communities, emphasizes participatory design, ongoing stakeholder consultation, and the use of native species. The PV Foundation certifies and issues only exante credits, called Plan Vivo Certificates, and therefore does not verify ex-post offsets.

History of Standard
The PV System was initiated in 1994 for a research project in southern Mexico. The system was developed by the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Management
(ECCM,, a consulting company that focuses on climate change mitigation strategies and policies, in partnership with El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR), the University of Edinburgh and other local organisations with funding from the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

Administrative Bodies
PV is currently managed by the Plan Vivo Foundation (formerly BioClimate Research and Development), a non-profit focused on promoting actions to reconcile human development and environmental change. The Foundation reviews and registers projects according to the PV System, issues PV Certificates annually following the submission and approval of each project’s annual report, and acts as overall ‘keeper’ of the PVSystem which is periodically reviewed in consultation with projects and other stakeholders. It also approves third-party verifiers and registers resellers of PVCertificates.

Consultants are hired by PV to review certain aspects of their projects. Because of the small number of projects, there is no established procedure for this. The PV Foundation also conducts frequent field visits to projects in order to monitor their progress and see that evaluations are done as needed.

Project Developers: Plan Vivo works with local NGOs who function as project developers (‘project coordinators’). They coordinate sales with the offset purchasers and administer payments to local farmers based on the achievement of ‘monitoring targets’.

Financing of the Standard Organisation
The financing of the PV Foundation is sourced primarily from a levy imposed on the issuance of PV Certificates. They currently take USD 0.30 per tonne of carbon dioxide sold. Other sources of income come from project and resellers’ registration fees.

Recognition of Other Standards
PV does not currently work in conjunction with other standards.

Number of Projects
Plan Vivo currently has three projects (in Mexico, Uganda and Mozambique) and a few more are currently being reviewed.

Comments on Plan Vivo
Grass-Roots Approach - PV is a small standard organisation that works closely with rural communities. Because of the grass-roots approach of PV, conservation and community benefits are very high, yet standards of this type usually remain small because they are very costly compared to cheap carbon options available on a globally traded carbon market. It is likely that PV will stay small and not grow its portfolio beyond a handful of projects.

Ex-Ante Offsets - Farmers who participate in PV are paid in regular installments over 10-15 years, yet they are expected to keep their trees standing for many decades. PV’s offset calculations are based on the trees remaining standing for decades after payments have ceased. Once all payments have been made to the farmers, there are no repercussions for farmers who decide to cut their trees down. PV argues that the threat of noncompliance is largely mitigated through their project design: all Plan Vivo projects strive to improve the livelihoods of farmers and it is therefore in their own (economic) interest to keep the trees standing even after offset payments have ceased.The authors welcome PV’s multi-benefit, grassroots approach that aims to help thevery poorest, something that many larger offset projects and the CDM as a whole have so far failed to do (Schneider, 2007). Yet ex-ante credits cannot guarantee that actual emissions reductions will be realized. This should be clearly communicated to prospective buyers: PV projects have high co-benefits but the carbon offsets are less secure than with ex-post credits.

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.