Frequently Asked Questions

Transitioning existing projects to Gold Standard for the Global Goals

What are the transition requirements for existing projects?


We intend that all projects will transition to Gold Standard for the Global Goals from earlier versions, with grace periods to accommodate timing. Typically, a project will transition at its next Performance Certification (verification) or Project Certification Renewal (crediting period renewal) after 1st March 2018, though earlier is available at developer discretion. Projects approaching the end of their fixed crediting period (i.e. less than 24 months) will not be required to transition.

Although the transition requires some additional attention from project developers, the process will be kept simple. By having all active projects ultimately transition to one single standard, Gold Standard will be able to focus all its efforts on greater support to developers, faster speed of decision making, and efficiency improvements that benefit everyone. We will also offer additional support for a limited number of projects who wish to be among the first to transition to Gold Standard for the Global Goals. Please contact owen.hewlett@goldstandard.org if you would like to be considered.

Is it correct that all projects must transition to Gold Standard for the Global Goals starting on 1st March 2018 at the latest?

Yes, in this case, transition must occur at the next verification/Performance Certification or next renewal of crediting period/Certification Renewal (whichever is earliest) after this date. Special rules apply to inclusions in POAs, please check the Transition Requirements.

Are there any projects that are exempt from transitioning to Gold Standard for the Global Goals?

 

All Gold Standard Projects are required to transition to Gold Standard for the Global Goals except for projects with a 10-year fixed crediting cycle with less than 24 months remaining on 14th August 2017.

What support does Gold Standard offer to 'early-stage' projects that transition to Gold Standard for the Global Goals?

We can offer active support for early-stage transition projects by clarifying transition requirements over one-to-one calls and provide prompt support during the entire transition process.

Does additionality have to be demonstrated for projects to transition to Gold Standard for the Global Goals

Additionality is not required to be demonstrated for transition as only registered projects will transition (and their additionality will not be retroactively assessed).

With respect to Gold Standard for the Global Goals transition deadlines, which milestone is used to define the term 'submission' for projects and VPAs?

Submission is defines as the date of submission of the LSC report for a regular cycle project or the date of submission of documents for the Pre-Feasibility Assessment for retroactive projects.

What is the last date a project must be submitted by to continue registration under GSV2.2, A/R 0.9 or Agriculture 0.9?

Any new project submitted to Gold Standard by 1st November 2017 can still use GSV2.2, A/R 0.9 or Agriculture 0.9 to register the project, but shall transition to Gold Standard for the Global Goals with first verification/Performance Certification.

How does the standard 5-year renewable crediting period apply to a 10-year fixed crediting period project that transitions to Gold Standard for the Global Goals?

If the project has less than 24 months left in the crediting period on 14th August 2017, the project is not  required to transition to Gold Standard for Global Goals. If the project has more than 24 months left in the crediting period on 14th August 2017, it can complete the remaining part of the 10-year crediting period as per Gold Standard for the Global Goals requirements but it cannot be renewed after the end of the 10-year crediting period.

How does the standard 5-year renewable crediting period apply to a 7-year renewable crediting period project that transitions to Gold Standard for the Global Goals?

If the project has less than 24 months left in the crediting renewal period on 14th August 2017, the project can transition to Gold Standard for the Global Goals at next crediting period renewal. If the project has more than 24 months remaining on the current 7-year cycle on 14th August 2017, it must transition to Gold Standard for the Global Goals at the next Performance Certification submitted after 1st March 2018.

Are Validation/Verification Bodies (VVBs) involved in reviewing the transition annex?

No, they are not. The process is handled entirely by the Gold Standard Secretariat.  VVB opinion is however required for transitions at crediting period renewal/Certification Renewal.

Do you charge a fee for the transition to Gold Standard for the Global Goals?

No, we do not charge fees for transition to Gold Standard for the Global Goals.

What procedures do i need to follow to become a transition pilot project?

Please submit your intent to transition as soon as possible by providing information on the project that you want to transition. The documents for transition can follow later.

Do registered and verified CDM projects labelled under Gold Standard also have to transition to Gold Standard for the Global Goals?

Yes, this must happen at your next verification/Performance Certification or crediting period renewal/Certification Renewal - that will start after 1st March 2018.

How is the start date of verification defined with respect to the deadline for transition (1st March 2018)?

It is defined as the date of the contract signed between the project developer and the VVB.

Will previously registered VER projects be required to monitor and report on their Millennium Development Goal (MDG) based sustainable development indicators in addition to those required to demonstrate SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) contributions?

A project must show how their original sustainable development indicators can be linked to at least two separate Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in addition to SDG 13 which is demonstrating an approved greenhouse gas accounting methodology. If the justification is adequate, then no changes or additional monitoring will be required. Note that it will not be a requirement to monitor and report on MDG impacts after transition.

General

Why did Gold Standard develop Gold Standard for the Global Goals?

The move from three separate standards to one integrated standard was both a practical necessity and an important opportunity.

Why a necessity? First, the unification of our Energy, Land Use & Forests, and Water standards enables Gold Standard to improve the management of standard and certification services. We can focus our efforts on updates that apply to all projects, which will lead to improvements in governance and processes by way of greater efficiency, consistency and clarity. This will also lead to greater flexibility as project developers will be able to access all methodologies and select the pathways and the certification options that work best for their project.

Secondly, sustainable development was a niche when Gold Standard was born. Now it’s mainstream. To maintain our benchmark standard in carbon markets, we need to invest to ensure Gold Standard projects benefit from the latest innovations and stand out from competitors.

At the same time, carbon markets are fundamentally changing and we believe this creates new opportunities. Gold Standard for the Global Goals will position your projects for success in an uncertain policy environment. (See more details below.)

The biggest opportunity lies in the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals and its clear integration with the Paris Agreement. This places Gold Standard projects at the epicenter of the international agenda. Development agencies are speaking the SDG language. Investors are looking for strong, low-risk projects that can quantify positive environmental and social impact. Corporates are increasingly aligning their sustainability strategies to the Global Goals and are looking for credible ways to report on their contributions. The possibility to credibly quantify and certify SDG impacts is intended to position Gold Standard projects for a wide range of funders, including buyers of carbon credits.

What is the added value of Gold Standard for the Global Goals for project developers?

The new features of Gold Standard for the Global Goals supports project developers in two fundamental ways:

  1. Ensuring projects remain best-in-class and relevant amidst changing policy dynamics. With the Paris Agreement bringing about fundamental changes in carbon markets, the evolution of the standard positions projects for success in an uncertain policy environment. By allowing you to select from a range of products to represent the climate outcomes of your projects – renewable energy certificates, certified emission reduction statements, or carbon credits – your projects will be resilient in all sectors and geographies in the face of emerging risks around double counting. Gold Standard for the Global Goals also empowers you to take advantage of new opportunities in sustainable development. Enhancements to safeguarding principles in Gold Standard for the Global Goals are designed to ensure our standard and your projects remain the benchmark for years to come. Certified SDG Impact Statements can make your projects more attractive to a wide range of funders that are increasingly demanding verified metrics.
  2. Supporting healthy market dynamics. New elements of Gold Standard for the Global Goals and its rules seek to improve market conditions by better balancing supply and demand of credits, ensuring the highest levels of environmental integrity, trust and credibility in carbon markets, and helping carbon finance to go where it’s most needed. Specific examples of this include:
  1. New Gold Standard Renewable Energy Label: This new instrument is expected to trigger a shift of large scale renewable energy projects out of carbon markets into renewable energy markets, reducing the supply of carbon credits.
  2. New 5-year certification period and Ongoing Financial Need: Gold Standard for the Global Goals features 5-year certification periods with a new requirement to demonstrate ongoing financial need at the point of renewal. This is aimed at maintaining the highest levels of market integrity by ensuring that carbon finance goes only to projects that require it to be financially viable, reflecting maturing technologies and markets. 
  3. Coming soon: A consultation on changes to additionality: In September 2017, you will have the opportunity to provide your input into proposed changes to additionality, which will be geared at ensuring the carbon market continues to support only projects that go beyond business-as-usual in driving the transition to a low-carbon future. (A public consultation to begin September 2017)

We are also working to streamline the certification process in the future through a new IT infrastructure, beginning with this online interface. We are also seeking new technologies with an aim to shorten review periods, automate monitoring where possible, and enhance reporting capabilities.

How can Gold Standard CDM projects be converted into Gold Standard VER projects?

Apart from converting issued Gold Standard CERs into Gold Standard VERs, guidelines for transitioning from CDM/Gold Standard CDM to Gold Standard VER projects are also available within the "Emissions Reduction and Sequestration Product Requirements.

Is there a Gold Standard Toolkit supplied for Gold Standard for the Global Goals?

No, the information contained in the Gold Standard V2.2 Toolkit is now included in 'Principles and Requirements' (SDG assessment, safeguards assessment, LSC requirements, crediting, additionality, project cycle, etc.) and with supplementary information in 'Activity Requirements.'

Will it be possible for operational projects from other standards to be retroactively validated under Gold Standard for the Global Goals?

Yes. Projects from other standards are eligible, provided they meet stringent Gold Standard requirements including stakeholder inclusivity at the design stage, safeguarding principles, holistic contributions to sustainable development, and a robust monitoring plan. There may also be additional criteria that will be specific per project type and methodology.

Can a Gold Standard project be located in an Annex I (developed) country?

Yes, a Gold Standard VER project can be located in any host country. However, project activities in countries with caps on GHG emissions must retire the equivalent number of AAUs to claim Gold Standard VERs.

Project Start Date and Crediting

Why is the certification/ crediting renewal period reduced to 5 years under GS4GG?

The Gold Standard Technical Governance Committee discussed this issue at length and came to the decision to shift to a 5-year renewal period based on the 5-year review period adopted for the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement. This is also aimed at maintaining the highest levels of market integrity by ensuring that carbon finance goes only to projects that require it to be financially viable, reflecting maturing technologies and markets. Note that this does not mean that projects have to overlap their crediting period with NDC cycles. It does mean that our projects will have to renew baseline more frequently to take into account any baseline updates that may happen due to updates in NDSs. Activity guidelines specify which activities will be renewed automatically.

When should a project apply for the renewal of the crediting period?

To maintain continuity between the crediting periods, the project developer should submit a request for renewal prior to the end of the first crediting period along with VVB opinion and updated PDD. Delay in submission of request for renewal beyond the end date of the first crediting period will lead to a gap between the first and second crediting periods.

How do GS4GG crediting/labeling cycles align with those in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which are different?

GS CER projects shall follow the CDM Certification Renewal/crediting cycle (i.e. 7 years), except for Ongoing Financial Need, which shall follow the GS4GG crediting cycle and be renewed every 5 years up to the maximum number of years allowable under the Activity Guidance (in the absence of specific guidance, this is typically 10 years, or 1 renewal). Issuance of GS labels may cease part way through CDM crediting period.

Does GS4GG allow retroactive crediting?

Yes, the rules are broadly the same as under GSv2.2 in which retroactivity is defines by the date of the Stakeholder Consultation. If this is before the Project Start Date, it is deemed 'regular cycle' otherwise it is deemed 'retroactive.' Note that the report of the Stakeholder Consultation shall be submitted to Gold Standard within three months of the event (even if the date is after the Project Start Date).

How is the Project Project Start Date defined in GS4GG?

The Project Start Date is the earliest date on which the Project Developer had committed to expenditures related to the implementation of the project. Note that the Project start date definition and requirements may differ under certain Activity or Product Requirements (see A/R projects, AGR projects).

Additionality and Ongoing Financial Need (OFN)

Does Gold Standard check the additionality of CDM registered projects

Gold Standard relies on CDM governance to verify additionality and does not check the additionality of CDM-registered projects.

Can projects still demonstrate additionality using UNFCCC tools for automatic additionality?

Yes.

Does additionality have to be demonstrated at renewal of the crediting period?

No, additionality is demonstrated only once at the design certification stage, however, Ongoing Financial Need must be demonstrated at crediting period renewal where required in Activity Requirements.

Do all projects have to demonstrate Ongoing Financial Need?

Yes - unless otherwise stated in the Activity Requirements (for example Land Use and Forestry) - all Gold Standard Projects that need to demonstrate Financial Additionality for a particular mechanism (e.g. VERs) need to demonstrate Ongoing Financial Need for this mechanism at the time of the crediting renewal period.

Do projects that rely on UNFCCC automatic additionality tools have to demonstrate Ongoing Financial Need?

 

Yes - unless otherwise stated in the Activity Requirements (for example Land Use and Forestry) - Ongoing Financial Need must be demonstrated for mechanisms reliant on a test of Finance Additionality.

What types of evidence and procedures will be used to demonstrate Ongoing Financial Need?

We will be putting this out for public consultation later this year but our aim is to make the test straightforward so that project developers and investors can commit to long-term investments with confidence.

What is the ODA declaration?

All project owners need to declare that the project has not received Official Development Assistance (ODA) under the condition that the credits by the project will be transferred, either directly or indirectly, to the donor country providing ODA support.

Claims and Double Counting

What will be the name/form of the credits from this standard?

As before, certified projects can still generate Gold Standard Emission Reductions (VERs and GS-CERs), which encompass certified climate impacts and associated Certified SDG impacts (formerly referred to as co-benefits).

Additionally, projects can apply a Gold Standard approved quantification methodology to issue and separately monetise certain Gold Standard Certified SDG impacts. The term 'credit' will not be used to describe Certified SDG impacts. Whenever possible, we will seek to use existing accepted metrics, such as ADALYs, and ensure that these meet the needs and expectations of funders, Existing Gold Standard Certified products will continue to be featured in GS4GG, including Emissions Reductions (VERs and GS-CERs) and Water Benefit Certificates, as well as Certified SDG Impact Statements that capture the climate impact of reductions in black carbon/Short Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs).

Will a single activity be able to issue multiple products (like VERs) or statement (like black carbon or ADALYs)? Can these be bought or funded by different buyers and sponsors?

Yes - activities will be able to issue multiple products and statements of outcome in order to seek funding from multiple (and new) sources. Rules on additionality, claims management, co-issuance, causal linkages, and registry function are clarified in the full requirements.

Can multiple donors support a single project? If so, how do donors claim their SDG certified impact if they are co-financing (with different portions) a specific impact?

Yes - there can be multiple donors or funders to one project. Funders or sponsors must disclose the exact impacts funded or sponsored in their communications. These will also be disclosed in Gold Standard's public registry. Claims will have to follow the requirements listed for Gold Standard Certified Projects and the claims guidelines of the relevant Gold Standard Certified SDG Impacts (e.g. VER). A sponsor or funder of Certified SDG Impacts must not make claims for other Certified SDG Impacts that they have not directly funded. They can, however, include a description of all of the benefits of a project as part of a project narrative, but must indicate clearly and precisely what their funds supported.

How will Gold Standard monitor and manage claims, particularly if there are multiple funders?

Claims will be transparently recorded and assigned to funders or sponsors within a public registry, 'Policing' of claims as a technical development will be further defined during piloting and in discussions with stakeholders to ensure that we play the role that the market(s) require of us and in line with transparent, best practice. In addition, Gold Standard is currently pursuing ISEAL membership and accordingly will create the necessary protocols to comply with its various codes and guidelines, including claims for best practice.

How will Gold Standard deal with impact claims beyond carbon of projects that are not transitioning to GS4GG?

Only projects that transition to GS4GG will be able to issue Gold Standard Certified SDG Impacts™. For projects which do not transition to GS4GG, the Emission Reduction (VER or CER) buyer will be able to communicate Certified SDG Impacts (formerly known as 'co-benefits') as part of their claim narrative as well as highlighting the key principles of inclusivity, strong safeguards and robust monitoring.

Can you clarify who can claim what in projects issuing multiple certified impacts?

Any funder who provides financial support to a Gold Standard project or its individual or collective impacts can describe the full impact of that project. They must, however, disclaim precisely and clearly what their individual funding supported. For example, if a project issues both verified emission reductions (VERs) and Averted Disability-Adjusted Life Years (ADALYs), the VER buyer should claim to have funded the greenhouse gas emissions reductions from a project that also improved health and created new local jobs. The funder of ADALYs should claim to have funded the health impacts from a project that also reduced greenhouse gas emissions and created new local jobs. Guiding principals for funder claims should be in clarity and full discourse.

Can a project still claim co-benefits?

We are repositioning 'co-benefits' to 'Certified SDG Impacts' in an effort to elevate these to an appropriate level rather than describing development benefits like jobs created, gender empowerment and reduced deforestation as side effects of carbon reductions. Project developers who wish to monetise additional impacts will need to demonstrate Ongoing Financial Need and apply a Gold Standard-approved methodology to issue tradeable or assignable products like ADALYs.

For how many years can a project claim pre-CDM VERs?

The Project Developer can claim Gold Standard pre-CDM VERs for a maximum of two years prior to the start of the CDM or JI crediting period (date registration/determination under UNFCCC) provided they enter into an agreement with The Gold Standard Foundation. This agreement states that the PP will commit to surrender to The Gold Standard Foundation, for immediate retirement, CERs or ERUs that will be issued in respect of GHG Reductions generated by the project during the CDM or JI crediting period in an amount equal to the pre-CDM VERs or pre-JI VERs. In all cases, credits cannot be claimed for more than a period of two years prior to the Gold Standard registration date.

Many countries host multiple projects of similar types (e.g. cookstoves in Kenya) meaning there is an overlap of project areas using similar technologies. Does this mean that new projects with overlapping project areas would be ineligible where this potential for double counting exists?

Provided an acceptable double counting procedure is in place, project areas may overlap.

SDG Outcomes and Safeguarding Principles

What approaches are used by Gold Standard to quantify contributions to SDGs?

 

Project Developers have three options to demonstrate contributions to SDGs as shown below:

Option 1 - for any SDG Impact the Project Developer shall review the UN SDG Targets and Indicators from the relevant National SDG Indicators, or in their absence, the latest internationally adopted version 'under consideration' where indicators are not yet fully adopted. Select the three most relevant to the chosen SDG Impacts. Propose an Output indicator, Quality Indicator and Justification information that, combined, demonstrate how the project positively impacts the chosen Sustainable Development Goal Indicator.

Option 2 - Follow a Gold Standard Approved SDG Tool for the demonstration of SDG impact(s).

Option 3 - Follow a Gold Standard Approved Methodology, published or referenced via the Gold Standard website. These are typically used by Project Developers to achieve issuance of Gold Standard Certified SDG Impact Statements or Products.

Are options 1, 2, and 3 mutually exclusive?

A developer may use any combination of the options to demonstrate a minimum of 3 SDG contributions.

Where can Gold Standard approved SDG Tools be found?

None are available as of yer, we plan to build on these over the coming months, they will be published here: https://globalgoals.goldstandard.org/tools 

When proposing a way to demonstrate SDG outcomes, where can National SDG indicators be found?

No definitive list currently exists; however you are encouraged to check the UN website and any relevant host country publications. For further information, please see the below:

https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/memberstates

http://www.sdgindex.org/ 

Does a project have to quantify all the SDG impacts from the start or can it add some later?

New Certified SDG impacts can be added during a project's life cycle but require all monitoring information inclduing baseline data per the methodology. A key principle of claims management is clear attribution and disclosure of funding sources. Therefore, projects will not be able to issue impacts retroactively if other assets (e.g. carbon credits) were sold during that period, as this would not have been clear to those funders from the earlier years.

Will Gold Standard require prescriptive rules around measurement and reporting of sustainable development impacts that are nto individually monetised?

Gold Standard will develop and provide a user-friendly, efficient online SDG tool that project developers have the option of using to demonstrate the SDG contributions of their project. Project developers are free to use their own tools or methods if they prefer. However, in order to be a Gold Standard sanctioned claim, these SDG contributions must be audited by a Gold Standard approved third-party Validation and Verification Body and certified by Gold Standard. This will apply to claims associated with the Gold Standard SDG tool.

Some of the Safeguarding Principles and Requirements do not have an assessment question. Does this mean they are not included in the assessment?

No, the Safeguarding Principles and Requirements shall apply to all projects - certain requirements are mandatory for all projects and may not be accompanied by an Assessment Question.

Are project developers responsible for providing a gap analysis between Do No Harm Assessment of older versions and the Safeguarding Principles of GS4GG and if so, is there a template for this?

Yes, that is correct. We do not intend to prepare a checklist for this as pre-registered projects need to focus on new safeguarding principles that we not covered in the Do No Harm Assessment.

Stakeholder Consultation

Do I need to invite all the Gold Standard NGO Supporters to the Stakeholders Consultation?

No, for the stakeholder consultation, only the International Gold Standard NGO Supporters (WWF, REEEP, SouthSouthNorth, Mercy corps, Helio International, Greenpeace, Care International) and those Gold Standard NGO Supporters located in the same host country as the project need to be invited.

Can the LSC meeting be conducted after the project activity has started?

All projects undertaking a regular certification cycle shall conduct the stakeholder consultation before the start date of the project. The consultation report should be submitted within three months of the consultation. Projects that do not conduct the consultation prior to the start date shall be considered as retroactive projects.

How should a retroactive project conduct a Stakeholder Feedback Round?

Retroactive projects are recommended to conduct a face-to-face meeting as a part of the Stakeholder Feedback Round. Also, they should use the outcomes of the preliminary review to plan the SFR accordingly.

Can a LSC be conducted for a group of activities?

Yes, however, there needs to be prior approval at the time of ‘Listing’ the activity.

For retroactive projects, does a stakeholder consultation need to be conducted before a project can be listed with the Gold Standard?

No, the rules are broadly the same as under GSv2.2 in which a Pre-Feasibility Assessment must be submitted to Gold Standard as part of the Preliminary Review before a stakeholder consultation may be deemed to be necessary as a result of the PFA review.  Note that the submission must be within 1 year of the project start date for the project to be eligible for retroactive crediting.

Is an Expert Stakeholder consultation ever a mandatory requirement?

Yes, in some cases and this is indicated by the term ‘shall’ in the documentation.  Examples include if project is hosted in a site of cultural and historical heritage or if endangered species are present in the project area.

Are all projects required to submit environment and social assessment reports?

All projects must fulfill host country requirements on environmental and social impact assessments at local, regional and national levels. A declaration must be submitted, as part of the Cover Letter, warranting that the project complies with local environmental and social regulations.

Auditor/VVB

Which auditors are eligible to assess Gold Standard projects?

Up to the 1st November 2017 you can continue to use the VVBs that are currently eligible. After the 1st November a list of approved VVBs by scope will be published, this will reflect those VVBs that are signed up to the new framework. You can learn more about VVB requirements here.

Is a VVB site visit mandatory for submitting a request for renewing the crediting period?


Yes, a site visit is mandatory.

Can the same VVB validate the crediting period renewal and carry out the verification?

Yes, this is allowed. However, the VVB that carries out the validation for renewing the crediting period cannot carry out the verification of the renewed crediting period.

What is the difference between a Gold Standard VVB and an Objective Observer?

A Gold Standard approved VVB may be contracted directly by the project developer for design certification and performance certification, whereas an Objective Observer is contracted by Gold Standard directly, usually for microscale projects, or to investigate a specific issue. 

Project funders and demand

Where does the potential demand for certified SDG impacts comes from? Are those buyers the same as VER buyers or other types of buyers? Do they come from the public sector or the private sector?


Our market assessment suggest that the sources of funding vary quite widely. Private sector funding among corporates shows the preference for impacts that have close relevance to core business operations and supply chain activities, which broadens the potential scope far beyond today's VER buyers. This audience is showing signs of interest in the quantification and certification of SDG impacts of their sustainability initiatives – sometimes but not always through results based payment mechanisms. Impacts that not only deliver social benefits but also demonstrate reduced costs of government spending – including ADALYs, which clearly lower the burden of disease – resonate more with public funders. Key conclusions of the market assessment will be shared in due course and will inform a market development strategy as a next phase.

What are the main incentives for potential purchasers of Gold Standard Certified ImpactsTM?


Gold Standard for the Global Goals will provide the platform to blend different types of financing and may therefore be attractive to a broad range of investors. Compliance buyers may be interested to report on the SDG contributions of their climate investments; or they may be interested to know that their investment was matched by public finance targeting non-carbon impacts such as health or women’s empowerment, for example.
Private investors may opt for the ‘activity only’ certification pathway. This will serve as a tool to de-risk their investment as well as a tool to assess ex-ante and ex-post impacts of the investment.
Public funders have an interest in financing specific Gold Standard Certified SDG Impacts in line with their priorities, especially in cases where there is a clear financial incentive, that is, when their investment yields significant economic and social benefits that can be quantified.
Businesses will find that Gold Standard for the Global Goals provides a flexible platform to quantify multiple impacts across climate and sustainable development. Gold Standard for the Global Goals will enable corporates to report on the actual SDG impacts of their strategies and their contributions to local development priorities, therefore unlocking civil society recognition (from, e.g., WWF, CDP, local authorities, etc.), which will create the incentive for corporates to raise their ambition over time.

If SDG Impacts can be sold separately to Emissions Reductions, how will the prices for these individual impacts be set?


Gold Standard is seeking input and opinions on valuation techniques for additional Certified SDG Impacts, but it is not clear that Gold Standard will take a position on the pricing of these impacts, beyond advocating for transparency.

What SDG Impacts will be tradeable financial assets?

As we develop new mechanisms, we will continue to be open minded about which are tradeable and market-based, like carbon credits and renewable energy certificates (RECs) function today, and which will be funded using more non-market approaches to results-based finance. It is important to note that there remains a critical role for consultants and retailers in matching investors with projects and being compensated for this important service.

Does the concept of 'retirement' apply to Gold Standard Certified SDG ImpactsTM?


The concept of ‘retirement’ is usually associated with ‘carbon neutrality’ which is not a relevant concept for Gold Standard Certified SDG Impacts. However, to ensure that each Certified SDG Impact is monetised only once, all Gold Standard Certified SDG Impacts will be tracked in a public registry where they can be assigned to specific funders.

If SDG Impacts can be sold separately to Emissions Reductions, how will the prices for these individual impacts be set?


Gold Standard is seeking input and opinions on valuation techniques for additional Certified SDG Impacts, but it is not clear that Gold Standard will take a position on the pricing of these impacts, beyond advocating for transparency.

What SDG Impacts will be tradeable financial assets?


As we develop new mechanisms, we will continue to be open minded about which are tradeable and market-based, like carbon credits and renewable energy certificates (RECs) function today, and which will be funded using more non-market approaches to results-based finance. It is important to note that there remains a critical role for consultants and retailers in matching investors with projects and being compensated for this important service.

Is it possible that the new ADALYs methodology may depress current VER prices for improved cookstoves, as projects that do not apply the ADALYs methodology will no longer be able to claim health impacts?

Cookstove projects can still make health-related claims if they provide expert stakeholder input and clear academic justification for health impacts. In addition, any cookstove project may still claim that 'Many improved cookstoves are associated with reduced smoke, which can lessen exposure to dangerous indoor air pollution.' This proposed specification is designed to protect projects and funders against accusations of overclaiming or 'SDG washing' and to work toward compliance with ISEAL requirements.

Regarding VER prices, we are acutely aware that prices for carbon credits are depressed and do not reflect the value of carbon reductions, even less the real value of the additional project benefits. Market information indicates that while health related claims are important for buyers, the main motivation to buy a VER from a cookstove project remains for offsetting purposes. And while cookstove projects remain attractive to buyers, prices have significantly decreased as supply of credits from cookstove projects has steadily increased over the years. It is reasonable to conclude that the key driver of prices remains supply and demand dynamics. Further, as the research around cookstoves and their impacts matures, the exposure of a project or funder to overclaiming could be a greater downside risk than an upside opportunity to overcome the pricing trends driven by the supply/demand dynamic. Clarity on the future of carbon markets and progress on the demand side are therefore of utmost importance.

Impact Methodologies

Are projects required to apply new SDG methodologies, like the ADALYs methodology?


No. Quantifying and issuing ADALYs and other new products will be optional. The goal of Gold Standard for the Global Goals is to provide flexibility and options for both project developers and funders to quantify, certify and maximise the impacts they prioritise – and to allow the monetisation of those impacts if they wish. These products can be certified separately and sold separately from VERs or bundled with VERs as appropriate for the project and the funder.

What approaches are used by Gold Standard to quantify contributions to SDGs?


There are two approaches under Gold Standard for the Global Goals to quantify SDG impacts:
It is possible to use the SD matrix with self-proposed indicators supported by clear rationale, justification and in some cases expert opinion as to how these will positively contribute to an SDG. These correspond to what are currently referred to as ‘co-benefits’ and can be used as part of the project narrative and for reporting purposes. These SDG Impacts still come packaged with the VER and cannot be sold separately. In order to monetise impacts separately, that is, seek multiple revenue streams for different SDG impacts, project must complete a Financial Needs Assessment and must use Gold Standard-approved methodologies. These will be assignable to specific funders on the Gold Standard public registry. Gold Standard Certified SDG ImpactsTM currently include VERs, ADALYs and Water Benefit Certificates, as well as Gold Standard Certified Impact Statements for Black Carbon/SLCPs.

Will Gold Standard require prescriptive rules around measurement and reporting of sustainable development impacts that are not individually monetised?


Gold Standard will develop and provide a user-friendly, efficient online SDG tool that project developers have the option of using to demonstrate the SDG contributions of their project.

Project developers are free to use their own tools or methods if they prefer. However, in order to be a Gold Standard sanctioned claim, these SDG contributions must be audited by a Gold Standard-approved third party Validation and Verification Body and certified by Gold Standard. This will also apply to claims associated with the Gold Standard SDG tool.

How will Additionality be applied to these new SDG methodologies?


Financial ‘Additionality’ - the need for additional finance in order for a project to be implemented – must be demonstrated for each and every monetised Gold Standard Certified SDG Impact. SDG Impacts included in the project narrative do not need to demonstrate this financial need or ‘additionality’ as they are not monetised.

How will you ensure that requirements and methodologies are simple and practical to use?


Our objective is to create best in class tools that allow credible quantification of development outcomes and climate action. Doing this robustly across a number of project sectors inevitably results in a number of different project types and therefore a degree of complexity. To counter this, our standard documents are hosted on a mini-website, which allows for rapid searching and cross-referencing/hyperlinking of information so that the user can quickly understand all the requirements they need to follow to develop a project.

We recognise the great importance of information technology in making things simple and practical for users and we are currently seeking funding to to develop tailored IT packages, like Cookstove IQ, that standardize and simplify quantification of emission reductions and other SDG impacts.

How and where do I submit a new methodology? What is the procedure and cost involved?


A methodology concept note needs to be submitted to Gold Standard for initial feedback. Upon positive feedback the developer should use the UNFCCC template to write-up the full version of the methodology. Once complete the developer needs to re-submit to Gold Standard for review and pay the applicable fees. The Gold Standard will identify two independent external experts to review the proposed methodology. The cost of this review will be paid for by the developer. The Gold Standard will review the methodology taking into consideration the outcomes of the external review. Gold Standard may either approve the methodology or ask for clarifications and request changes.

Will there be an impact methodology for SDG 6 – clean water and sanitation?

Yes, we do have a methodology to quantify clean water supply and hygiene outcomes developed under the Water Benefit Certificate Scheme (WBC).  However, it does need updating for use under Gold Standard for the Global Goals for both use as an SDG contribution tool and for monetization of clean water and hygiene outcomes, so it is not currently available on our website.

Technology Specific

What are the six main critical issues hydro-projects need to discuss?


1) Competing use of water resources
2) Minimum ecological flow
3) Impact on groundwater level
4) Design and effectiveness of fish passage(s)
5) Sediment management plan
6) Mitigation measures for reducing soil erosion
For more details, please refer to Annex C

Are all hydro projects required to discuss the six critical issues listed above?

Yes, all hydro projects (including micro-scale hydro projects) are required to discuss the six critical issues in the project documentation.

Under which scenario is an external expert report required for hydro projects?

Unless already addressed satisfactorily as a part of the existing ESIA report, the opinion of an independent external expert(s) should be provided. Based on relevant CVs submitted by the PP, Gold Standard will select an external expert. It is the Project Developer’s responsibility to pay for this expert. Before any work can start on the study a MoU needs to be signed by all parties (e.g. Gold Standard, the Project Developer and the expert(s)). The MoU will outline the scope of the work and what needs to be assessed by the expert(s).

What is the biomass availability rule for small-scale and large-scale projects?


Project Participants must demonstrate that their project makes use of surplus biomass for each type of biomass resources used.  For small-scale activities, they can do this once, ex-ante on time for validation. For large-scale activities, they must do this once in time for validation and then every time they conduct verifications (e.g. as part of the Sustainability Monitoring Plan). For more information please see the Activity Guidance applicable to your project.

Which projects are required to demonstrate a clear transfer of carbon credit rights?

Activities involving the distribution of large amounts of small domestic interventions, such as heating, cooking, water filters, efficient lighting (CFL, LED, etc.) or electricity generation devices using renewable energy sources, are required to demonstrate a clear transfer of carbon credit rights. The project needs to provide Gold Standard with a clear description of the transfer of credit ownership throughout the entire investment chain and proof that end-users are aware of and willing to give up their rights on emission reductions.

Community Services Activities

Which projects are required to demonstrate a clear transfer of carbon credit rights?


Activities involving the distribution of large amounts of small domestic interventions, such as heating, cooking, water filters, efficient lighting (CFL, LED, etc.) or electricity generation devices using renewable energy sources, are required to demonstrate a clear transfer of carbon credit rights. The project needs to provide Gold Standard with a clear description of the transfer of credit ownership throughout the entire investment chain and proof that end-users are aware of and willing to give up their rights on emission reductions.

Land-Use and Forestry Activities

What are validated certificates/PERs?

‘Emissions Reductions’ represent the reduction or sequestration of one metric tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e). This 'basket' of gases within the ‘carbon dioxide equivalence’ includes Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4) and/or Nitrous Oxide (N2O).

Under Gold Standard for the Global Goals, a limited number of Planned Emission Reductions (PERs) may also be issued for certain project types. A Planned Emission Reduction represents the expected (i.e future) sequestration of 1 tonne of CO2e.

The characteristics of Planned Emission Reductions are:

  • Planned Emissions Reductions shall be issued only from project areas that have scientifically robust carbon modelling as required by the relevant GS-Approved Methodology.
    • Planned Emissions Reductions shall be issued only from project areas where the auditor confirms, by certification, that trees have been planted or activity has taken place.
    • Planned Emissions Reductions shall be issued only after a successful Design Certification or subsequent Performance Certification.
    • 80% of the Planned Emissions Reductions shall be issued into the projects registry account according to their expected vintage years (years of delivery). The remaining 20% shall be issued into The Gold Standard Compliance Buffer.
    • All transfers and assignments of Planned Emissions Reductions shall be recorded in The Gold Standard Registry.
  • After Performance Certification, where the effective emission reductions are verified, the Planned Emissions Reductions are converted into Verified Emissions Reductions (PERs converted to VERs), which are issued into The Gold Standard Registry.

A/R Projects may issue PERs for maximum 5 years ahead of successful Initial Certification or subsequent Performance Certification. Agriculture Projects may issue PERs up to 3 years in the future.

Renewable Energy Activities

What is a Gold Standard Renewable Energy Label?

The Gold Standard Renewable Energy Label is a new label for Renewable Energy Attribute Certificates*.  REACs are used to independently certify that a given amount of energy has been generated from a renewable source.  Indivuduals and organizations buy this certified energy so that they can have independent assurance that the energy is indeed renewable and they can make a credible public claim to this fact.

In a similar manner, the Gold Standard Renewable Energy Label provides additional assurance that the certified renewable energy contributes to at least three of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals and meets the highest standards of environmental integrity, safeguards and third-party monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV).  The label also guarantees an ongoing engagement with local stakeholders and therefore ensures that all local concerns, risks and opportunities are considered.

Why did Gold Standard develop a Renewable Energy Label?

The Gold Standard Renewable Energy Label was developed to address a need in the market for a high-quality label for renewable energy market instruments that ensures environmental integrity and assures purchasers that their investment supports the transition to a renewable energy future by adding new renewable capacity to the grid. We also seek to bring greater confidence and trust to renewable energy markets – providing environmental integrity, ensuring adherence to rigourous safeguards, and driving finance to projects that deliver impact toward multiple sustainable development goals.

The new product was also developed to give Gold Standard renewable energy project developers the flexibility to choose whether to issue Gold Standard carbon credits, renewable energy labels, or a combination of both, so that they can respond to market dynamics.

What is a renewable energy attribute certificate (or renewable energy market instrument)?

Renewable energy attribute certificates are tradeable, non-tangible energy commodities that represent proof that one megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity was generated and fed in to the electricity grid by an eligible renewable energy source. They are used to support consumer claims about the type of energy used and its related attributes, such as greenhouse gas emissions, produced at the point of generation. These market instruments are commonly known as Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) in the United States, a Guarantee of Origin (GO) in Europe and International RECs (I-RECs) in a number of countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa.

Renewable energy attribute certificates give consumers the option to purchase the rights to renewable electricity when they are not fed directly by a renewable energy source. They are commonly purchased by organisations that want to lower their carbon footprint and support the transition to a low-carbon economy, but which are unable to generate renewable electricity onsite or negotiate a contract (Power Purchase Agreement) directly with a renewable energy power station.

 What is the age limit on projects under the new Renewable Energy Label?

The new Gold Standard Renewable Energy Label seeks to support the transition to a low-carbon economy through catalysing the expansion of renewable energy capacity globally. As such, projects may receive Issuance of Gold Standard Renewable Energy Labels for a maximum of two GS4GG Certification Renewals, amounting to a total of 15 years Issuance.

What projects are eligible to receive certification under the Gold Standard Renewable Energy Label?

To be eligible, projects must:

  • Be an eligible Project type as per the Gold Standard for the Global Goals and the Gold Standard Renewable Energy Activity Requirements AND
  • The Project shall have successfully completed Gold Standard for the Global Goals Design Certification and achieved Gold Standard Certified Project status by completing Performance Certification. These Certification steps shall include conformity to the Requirements set out in this Document AND
  • The Project shall be certified under an eligible Renewable Energy Product Standard, such as the I-RECs Standard. A list of such eligible products is included in the Requirements.

In addition, for those Projects seeking to be able to issue both Renewable Energy Labels and VERs the following documents must also be met:

  • Gold Standard Approved Methodologies for Emissions Reductions AND
  • Gold Standard Emissions Reduction and Sequestration Product Requirements

For more information, see Renewable Energy Label Product Requirements.

Does the Gold Standard Renewable Energy Label apply to all Renewable Energy Attribute Certificates?

Initially, the Gold Standard Renewable Energy Label is limited to International RECs (I-RECs), which applies to projects outside of Europe and the United States. Gold Standard is open, however, to labelling other products where there is demand and scope for Gold Standard involvement. Gold Standard is interested to hear from stakeholders interested in labelling other renewable energy products.

As a project developer, how do I choose between Gold Standard VERs and I-REC labels for my renewable energy project?

Projects that follow a Gold Standard approved Emissions Reduction methodology and verified emission reduction (VER) Product Requirements, in addition to the Renewable Energy Activity Requirements and Renewable Energy Labelling Product Requirements, will be able to choose between I-RECs labels and Gold Standard VERs at Issuance.  Which to choose is entirely at the discretion of the project developer, based on the demand they see from buyers.  Project developers have the flexibility to issue a combination of VERs and I-RECs from the same project – deciding which label to attribute to each MWh.

Can I change my mind on issuance and replace I-RECs with VERs, or vice versa?

Yes.

Can I transfer existing VERs to I-RECs under Gold Standard for the Global Goals?

Existing projects that transition to Gold Standard for the Global Goals can also choose to cancel their issued VERs for an eligible time-period and issue Renewable Energy Labels instead.

These projects will have to be Registered with I-RECs and capable of issuing the certificates for us to label. We recommend that you check any I-REC restrictions on issuance, for example regarding I-REC lifecycles and maximum vintages they accept.

Can I issue both VERs and I-RECs for the same MWh?

No. To avoid double counting you cannot issue RECs and VERs for the same MWh.

Does my project need to demonstrate Ongoing Financial Need, or additionality, for I-RECs to be issued?

In line with RECs market practice, projects issuing I-RECs Labels are not required to demonstrate Ongoing Financial Need, or ‘Additionality’. However, if a project wishes to also be able to issue Gold Standard VERs, it would need to demonstrate Ongoing Financial Need and Additionality, as per the Product Requirements for issuance of Gold Standard VERs.

How will the I-RECs be monitored?

Gold Standard and the International REC Standard (I-REC) will jointly monitor the MWh generated by each project to ensure no over-issuance takes place.

Will Gold Standard and I-RECs track Gold Standard labelled I-RECs in their registries?

I-RECs will include a notice/label on Gold Standard labelled I-RECs within its registry. In addition, Gold Standard intends to track overall issuance of both I-RECs and VERs, and document both on our Markit Registry.

Is there a fee for transitioning existing VERs to I-RECs?

There is a conversion fee at the project label and an issuance fee for the renewable energy label itself. See our fee schedule.

Microscale

Will the micro scale scheme be available under Gold Standard for the Global Goals?


Yes, micro scale is still available but the scheme has been revised to address challenges in the previous version.

For the Gold Standard micro-PoA inclusion review - how many VPAs can be submitted at one time?

Four VPAs can be submitted at a time for a Gold Standard inclusion review, which commences only after the payment of Inclusion Review Fees (USD 2500/VPA).

Is an Objective Observer (OO) visit mandatory for micro-PoA validation?

Yes, in the case of micro-PoAs, OO visits are mandatory at the time of internal validation of the POA.

How is an Objective Observer identified?

An “Objective Observer” (OO) is an independent expert (e.g. academics from local universities, staff from local NGOs or local consultancies, representatives of development organisations, etc.) that is contracted to appraise the project. For appointing an OO, the CVs of three potential candidates should be submitted by the CME. Gold Standard will assess the submitted CVs and the suitability of candidates from its Roster of Experts and sign an agreement with the selected candidate.

Is it mandatory to submit a real case activity for each country/technology/methodology combination at the time of Gold Standard micro-POA registration review?


Yes, however, case-by-case deviation may be granted after TAC approval. Please refer to the guidelines.

Programmes of Activities

Does a separate Transition Annex need to be prepared for a PoA and each respective VPA, or may one Annex be prepared for the entire PoA that is applicable to all VPAs?

Our intention is to make the process straightforward, so a single Annex can be prepared for the POA, provided all differences across VPAs and their impact on Safeguarding and SDG assessment is captured in the document.  However, if this leads to an update in the monitoring plan then this shall be captured for each VPA separately.  Note that the length of crediting period shall also be updated for each VPA separately.

If a 7-year renewable crediting period project or POA has less than 24 months remaining on its current 7-year cycle on 14th August 2017, can it complete the first 7-year cycle in full and then renew it for a further three times under Gold Standard for the Global Goals?

No, the maximum number of renewals defined in the Activity Requirements applies.  In this example (assuming a standard maximum of 3 renewals is permitted), the project can complete the remainder of the 7-year cycle, then it should transition to 5-year cycle for the remaining available renewals (in this case 2).

How is the date of PoA submission defined?


Date of PoA submission is the date on which the PoA Design Consultation Report is submitted to Gold Standard for review.

How is a PoA Design Consultation different from the stakeholder consultation conducted at the PoA/activity level?

The PoA Design Consultation is a mandatory step of stakeholder consultation that must take place in all PoAs. This consultation needs to be carried out in addition to a PoA/activity level consultation. The objective of this consultation is to collect feedback from relevant stakeholders on the overall design and expected impacts of the programme, in order to ensure it is in line with the national or regional sustainable development goals and priorities. This consultation can be conducted electronically.

Stakeholder consultation at a PoA/activity level involves a physical meeting with stakeholders including local people, communities impacted, local NGOs, government officials etc. This meeting should be complemented with other feedback gained via bilateral discussions, call for inputs via emails, letters of support, etc. The aim of this consultation process is to inform stakeholders in detail about the activities to be implemented within the programme and give them the opportunity to discuss the impact of the activities on them and on the environment.

Who is the target audience for PoA Design Consultation? E.g. who should be invited for this consultation?

    1. Host country DNA(s)
    2. Gold Standard Secretariat
    3. Gold Standard International and Gold Standard local NGO Supporters
    4. Local NGOs 5) Research organizations Institutes
    5. Agency(ies) which have the mandate to set the quality criteria for that technology in the host country
    6. Implementing agencies/CME(s) of the earlier PoAs in the region/country
    7. Technology suppliers
    8. Renewable energy development agencies, etc.

Is the PoA Design Consultation also mandatory for Gold Standard CDM PoAs?

Yes, the PoA Design Consultation is mandatory for all PoAs submitted for Gold Standard certification, including CDM PoAs and micro-PoAs.

In a PoA Design Consultation, what are the various issues that a CME needs to seek feedback on?

 

    1. Overall sustainable development aspects of a PoA
    2. Geographical spread or location of a PoA
    3. Technology employed under the PoA
    4. Other organizations/agencies who can provide feedback on the design of the PoA
    5. Implementation plan of the programme, i.e. commercial terms and conditions should be transparently shared by the CMEs on the basis of which interested activities will be allowed to join a PoA, etc.

Fairtrade

Which types of projects can be Fairtrade certified?


The Fairtrade Climate Standard can be applied to the following project types:

  • Renewable energy: solar thermal heating/electricity, solar photovoltaic, wind energy, hydropower, biogas heating/electricity
  • Energy efficiency: improved cookstoves, water filtration/purification systems, energy saving lamps/ fluorescent lamps
  • Afforestation/Reforestation

The Fairtrade Climate Standard features further eligibility criteria in which projects must be owned by small producers in developing countries.

Who is eligible to develop Fairtrade Carbon Credits projects?

Producer organisations, who are the project owners, must meet specific criteria based on:

    • Geography: Located in countries within Fairtrade’s geographical scope of producer certification.
    • Size: Small-scale carbon credit producers (annual maximum output of 15 megawatts for Renewable Energy projects; 60 gigawatt hours for Energy Efficiency; for A/R projects at least 50% of the work is carried out by family members, cooperative members or neighbours).
    • Organisation: Producers of Fairtrade Carbon Credits must be organized into an Association, Community Based Organisation, Small Producer Organisation as defined by Fairtrade, or any other form of structure where individual members are able to make democratic and transparent decisions about Fairtrade issues, including the use of the Fairtrade Premium: 1.) Where Representatives are democratically elected to represent all individual producers; 2.) That has an established communication and feedback system in place between the representatives and the producers to communicate about (FCC project investments and developments, especially investments of overheads; Climate Change Adaptation; Fairtrade sales and income); 3.) That has clear written project participation membership rules and records, including contact names, dates and details of project implementation.

What is the role of the Project Developer (Project Facilitator)?

Producer organisations can develop projects themselves if they have the required knowledge or resources. In most cases, a Project Developer will support the producer organisation. In the Fairtrade Climate Standard model, they are called Project Facilitators. Project Facilitators might be an NGO, a consultant, company, buyer, technology provider who supports the producers and transfers skills. Project facilitators must comply with the Fairtrade Climate Standard to be certified.

Who certifies groups and audits against the Fairtrade Climate Standard?

Gold Standard approved validation and verification bodies (VVBs) certify against Gold Standard requirements, and the certification of projects and issuance of carbon credits will proceed as usual under our standard. The single certifier of the Fairtrade add-on certification will be FLOCERT. FLOCERT certifies the organisations involved in Fairtrade carbon projects and the trade of Fairtrade Carbon Credits and check that the payments of price and premium follow the requirements of the Fairtrade Climate Standard.

What are the rules for selling and buying Fairtrade Climate Credits?

The Fairtrade Climate Standard includes important rules for both retailers and buyers of Fairtrade Carbon Credits to help ensure these climate protection projects are making the greatest impact toward the global transition to a low-carbon sustainable future. Retailers selling credits must be Fairtrade certified and companies purchasing more than 1,000 carbon credits a year must first measure then reduce their own carbon emissions. In addition, guidelines issued to corporate buyers of Fairtrade Carbon Credits strictly manage communications and claims about their purchase and its impact.