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Sustainable Development

As the population grows and ecosystems become more stressed, we have to think bigger. Consensus is building that to improve environmental conditions and deliver sustainable development globally, interventions must address the nexus of food, water, energy and climate security. This is complicated work. But by joining our expertise in climate and development with that of our partners, we are moving towards an approach that integrates energy, water, land use and agriculture projects on a broad landscape scale. Read more about Gold Standard for the Global Goals >>

Please note that our pioneering new framework was previously known as Gold Standard 3.0 >> We have changed the name to reflect our commitment to the Global Goals in delivering sustainable development impacts in tandem with climate action.

For an expanded FAQ on Gold Standard for the Global Goals, click here>>

Energy

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Climate change is one of the greatest threats to our planet

Global warming needs to be limited to below 2C

$1 trillion in low carbon energy technologies required by 2030

Indoor air pollution from cooking kills over 4 million people every year

Black carbon is responsible for 20% of the planet’s warming

clean energy future

    Energy is everywhere. It embodies every object we produce, consume or use. Currently, fossil fuels supply the vast majority of our energy needs, releasing greenhouse gases into our atmosphere that significantly contribute to climate change. We need to rectify this, but in a way that delivers both climate security and sustainable development. 

    Gold Standard Energy focuses on both people and the planet. Whilst mitigating climate change is a core component of our standard, providing access to basic services and improving health, income and gender equality are just as critical. That’s why, unlike other standards where contributions to sustainable development are optional, for us, this is non-negotiable. Both greenhouse gas emission reductions and sustainable development indicators are monitored, reported and verified. As a result our projects protect the climate and empower vulnerable communities. 

    By investing in our projects you can make a direct contribution in the transition to a clean energy future. 

    Renewable Energy

    Utilising sources that are not depleted when used, such as wind, solar, biomass, biogas, geothermal and hydro activities, this scope represents the tremendous progress towards a future free of fossil fuels. Projects range from small-scale domestic programmes that improve local livelihoods through to large-scale initiatives that are helping countries economically and politically by reducing their dependency on energy imports.

    Energy Efficiency

    This scope includes cookstoves, water filter projects and the distribution of energy saving lamps. The majority of these projects are domestically based delivering a multitude of benefits from reductions in greenhouse gas emissions through to helping vulnerable households gain access to the most basic of human rights, such as safe water to drink and clean air to breath. This scope also includes increasing efficiencies within high polluting industries, such as the shipping industry.

    Waste Management

    These projects help regions and cities manage the huge amounts of solid waste that heavily burden the municipal infrastructures and local environment. They create value from waste, enhancing livelihoods and empowering communities. The scope includes all waste handling activities that deliver an energy service or a usable product that has sustainable development benefits (e.g. composting).

    Black Carbon

    Studies show that black carbon may be responsible for close to 20% of the planet’s warming, making it the second highest contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide. In March 2015, we launched a pioneering methodology for quantifying and monitoring emissions from black carbon and other short lived climate pollutants, from projects focused on improved cookstove technologies or clean burning fuels. This first-of-its-kind methodology provides a verified outcome that can be used in a ‘results based finance’ funding scheme to drive investment into these initiatives. Read more about Black Carbon>>

    Gold Standard Cities

    With support from WWF, the World Bank and UNDP we launched the Gold Standard Cities Programme, a framework to develop, audit and verify the outcomes of urban development programmes to scale up investment for low-carbon cities. Read more about our Cities Programme>>

    For more information about how to develop a Gold Standard energy project>> 
    View our energy project portfolio>>

    Land Use & Forests

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    12-15 million hectares of forest are lost each year

    Deforestation is responsible for up to 20% of all carbon emissions globally

    805 million people are chronically undernourished

    Agriculture contributes 10-12% of global anthropogenic emissions

    Agriculture expansion is responsible for 80% of deforestation

    land and forests

    The way land and forests are managed plays an enormous role in regulating the climate. As trees grow they absorb and hold carbon, stopping it from being released into the atmosphere where it contributes to climate change. Forests also contain more than half of the world’s biodiversity and provide livelihoods for the billions of people who depend on the land.

    Our work aims to ensure resources are used sustainably—empowering people to produce more with less—and improve their livelihoods as well as their ability to adapt to a changing climate. This important work also contributes to conserving biodiversity.

    We focus on the ecosystem services generated by an activity. Gold Standard certification is NOT a quality label for commodities such as timber, cotton, or cacao. To also help improve the sustainability of these commodities, we partner with other best-in-class standards such as FSC, Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and RSB. We streamline our terms, requirements and procedures to the greatest possible extent to create the most cost-efficient way to earn certification for both commodities and ecosystem services at the same time—a tremendous multiplier effect for the planet and its people.

    Please note that we are currently reviewing our approach to Land Use, Water and Agriculture as part of the development of Gold Standard for the Global Goals. Our newest programmes, Agriculture and Water, will remain in a road-testing phase until Gold Standard for the Global Goals is fully operational; therefore we are limiting certification to those already identified as pilot projects.

    Afforestation/Reforestation

    In the simplest terms, a key benefit of Afforestation and Reforestation projects lies in trees—more tress, larger trees, a diversity of trees. As they grow, the trees absorb and hold CO2—contributing to global carbon reduction—in addition to providing other ecological and social benefits for the local ecosystem.

    Afforestation is the establishment of a forest in an area that previously was not forested.
    Reforestation is the re-establishment of forest, either naturally or by direct seeding or planting.

    We are currently in the process of reviewing our approach to A/R, for more information>> 
    View our A/R project portfolio>>

    Agriculture

    It is expected that climate change, water scarcity, land degradation and additional damage to the environment will result in agricultural losses of 25% globally. When combined with the need to produce 50% more food to feed an expected 9.1 billion people in 2050, global food production must increase in real terms by 75% to provide enough food for human survival.

    Ensuring food security requires major shifts in agricultural practices, focused on:

    1. Increasing agricultural productivity and the incomes of smallholders;
    2. Adapting and building resilience to climate change;
    3. Reducing and/or removing greenhouse gases emissions and sequestering carbon

    In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, our Agriculture standard focuses on the drivers of deforestation for the management of farms, crops, and livestock. In simple terms, if a given plot of farmland is more productive, less land is required for agriculture and more can be allocated to preserving forests. It’s making good better.

    Gold Standard Agriculture is about producing more with less - empowering smallholder farmers to increase the amount of food they produce and the money they earn for their families.

    Agriculture will remain in a road-testing phase until Gold Standard 3.0 is fully operational; therefore we are limiting certification to those already identified as pilot projects. For more information>> 
    View our agriculture project portfolio>>

    Improved Forest Management

    Improved Forest Management efforts aim to protect existing forests that are used for sourcing timber. By improving these practices, we can maintain and increase carbon storage in forests. This reduces carbon emissions and allows forests to grow as sustainably and productively as possible. These forests protect wildlife habitats, thus preserving biodiversity, improve water quality and can contribute to sustainable economic development in the region.

    Water

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    #1 greatest risk facing the world

    1 in 10 people worldwide don’t have access to clean drinking water

    ‘Business as usual’ water use will expose 4.8 billion people to severe water scarcity by 2050

    Less than 1% of WASH projects have any long-term monitoring

    Agriculture consumes 70% of the world’s fresh water

    Tackling the #1 global risk

    Water is necessary for food and energy security. It’s vital for human health and functioning eco-systems. Water is also a tremendous contributor to economic growth, and shortages pose great threats to many companies’ supply chains. But many of the world’s water systems are dangerously stressed. Rivers, lakes, wetlands and aquifers are drying up or becoming too polluted to use. There are many efforts to manage water security around the globe. But because of insufficient governance, they are in desperate need of finance.

    Challenges in water projects

    The World Water Council and Global Water Partnership cite that ‘water, above all, is a problem of governance’. WWF says laws, policies and institutions meant to protect and manage water aren’t strong enough. Resources aren’t managed well with an often shortfall in necessary investment and technologies. Sustainable WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) for example, estimates that of 800,000 hand pumps installed in Sub-Saharan Africa over the past 20 years, some 30% are known to fail prematurely, representing a total failed investment of at least $1.2 billion. Less than 1% of projects have any long-term monitoring.

    The Water Benefit Standard is the first globally consistent standard that certifies the positive water and socio-economic impacts of water projects. It provides robust design and governance that will ensure long-term outcomes and drive funding to water projects. Read more about the Water Benefit Standard>>

    Fairtrade Carbon Credits

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    500 million smallholder farms produce around four-fifths of food supplies in developing countries, yet very few can access climate finance

    Value of livelihood and food security benefits of climate protection projects for smallholders can be as high as 50 times the carbon revenue

    An FAO study of 13 agriculture and forestry projects shows that investments in smallholder adaptation also deliver benefits in mitigation

    Women in many developing countries spend from 1 to 4 hours a day collecting biomass for fuel

    Fairtrade International has made an impact on 1.5 million farmers and workers

    in their fight against climate change

    The Fairtrade Climate Standard aims to enable producers—generally smallholder farmers and workers—to access climate finance through carbon markets while supporting their capacity building for climate adaptation.

    The Fairtrade Climate Standard is an add-on to the Gold Standard certification standard that features additional criteria for project eligibility as well as minimum prices for credits. Minimum prices ensure project costs are covered, and an additional Fairtrade premium creates revenue that can be used to finance activities that help communities improve adaptation and resilience to a changing climate.

    Fairtrade Carbon Credits are, at their essence, Gold Standard Verified Emissions Reductions (VERs) that have been generated by producer organizations that meet Fairtrade criteria and achieve a Faitrade minimum price and premium in the market.

    Our partnership with Fairtrade supports Gold Standard’s efforts to increase fairness, transparency, and integrity in carbon market by ensuring climate finance benefits those who need it most.

    Read more in the press release announcing the Fairtrade Climate Standard>>